More than meets the eye
Recently the Senior Seminar Class of UVU Art and Visual Communications (AVC) Professor Alex Bigney coordinated a mentoring program through the Boys & Girls Club associated with Child and Family Services.
“Alex always says ‘this is what you are going to do when you graduate – you show’ and so he helps us with that. It’s what the whole class is based on and he wants us to make it something interesting,” said photography major Rebecca Harbaugh.
Having brainstormed the concept of getting involved in the local community, the class went on to fill out applications and go through background checks in order to be accepted as volunteers. They then went through a “speed dating” process in which they spent a few minutes with each potential mentee. Afterwards, each UVU student mentor and each high school student mentee made a list of their top choices and they were paired accordingly.
The class was made up of a full range of art students from potters to painters to photographers, and though many of the mentees were not previously familiar with the the medium in which they were working, they we able to learn a new skill and develop appreciation for various art forms.
The mentorship culminated in a recent exhibition at F Stop Cafe, wherein mentors and mentees were able to display the fruits of their creative labor.
Paired with UVU photo major Teagan Alex, Mariah Miller was able to experiment with the cyanotype photographic process, which, as she explained, includes mixing and painting chemicals onto paper, placing negative photographs on top and exposing them to UV rays for approximately 20 minutes, transferring them to water and then hydrogen peroxide and then letting them dry, a process the leaves an image on the paper.
“It was my first time ever doing something like this, but it was really fun. I’ve always seen it on TV so I thought it was really cool that we were actually doing it,” Miller said. “I wasn’t too into photography; I was more into graphic design, so working together was kind of fun because I learned more about photography and I am a little more interested in it. I loved doing cyanotypes and that’s just one process of like a million. It was cool that Teagan was there to help me. She knows what she’s doing.”
Alex’s pieces were on display right next to those of her mentee. Using the gum print photographic process, she mixed potassium dichromate and gum arabic together, painted it onto her paper, which then becomes light sensitive, and exposed the paper and her negatives to the sun, thereby developing the images.
“I was kind of insecure with myself and I was putting myself out there, but I was being broken so I wanted them to feel really fragile and faint, so that’s why they are white on white,” Alex said. “It has been a really fun experience. We’ve been matched since February so we’ve been working on this for a couple months, and we will probably still do stuff after this show is over; I am sure we will stay in touch.”
Another photographer, Rebecca Harbaugh, was mentoring Sariah Owen in the photographic medium.
“She does painting and sculpting, so I was actually surprised she picked me to be her mentor because she knew that I did photography. But she still wanted me to mentor her, so that was interesting. I had a great relationship with Sariah even though she wasn’t interested in my medium. We just seemed like we fit well together,” Harbaugh said.
Inspired by commonly-felt yet profound emotions, Owen captured bliss, emptiness, anger, depression and insanity in five separate photographs. Incorporating aspects of her medium of preference, she used paint, natural elements, wax and glass to enhance each emotive piece.
“We talked about developing a concept and I let her borrow an older camera that I had … I was impressed because she found a model that was able to convey each emotion. Her project was about a series of emotions that we have inside of us and just sorting through these emotions in different situations. She thought of all the poses and all the makeup and she totally pulled it off,” Harbaugh said.
A set of Harbaugh’s own pieces were created with a historic photographic process used during the 1800s. Depicting trees in late fall once they have entirely lost their leaves, she plans to re-photograph the same images once their leaves return. Another photograph she exhibited, meant to embody different life perspectives, was transferred onto a sheet of metal over which she had poured acid, giving it varied gray and yellow tones.
“I like to do alternative stuff within my work, so recently I almost don’t do any just straight photographs; I am always trying to do something different,” Harbaugh said. “
Julianne Jensen, an art major getting her BFA in painting and drawing, mentored newbie painter Krystal Davidson.
“My mentee had never painted before so I helped her get used to the medium and get a feel for how acrylic paint works. Her paintings are acrylic and she did one on her own and we worked on one together where she learned how to do pours and color mixture and stuff that I had done in mine,” Jensen explained.
Jensen’s piece, a blend of vibrant colors, was composed of acrylic and oil paints as well as fabric and string.
“My goal was to create and experience with light and color, not specifically having anything in mind while creating it but more just enhancing the color. Those were the things I had in mind, mixture of color and having it originate from some form of light,” Jensen said.
The beautiful artwork exhibited at the gallery was made that much more impressive by the fact that their was a collaborative effort between the established student-artists and their up-and-coming counterparts.