Every year the Blackfish Gallery, located in Portland’s Pearl District, asks art faculty from Oregon’s four-year colleges and universities to each submit the names of two graduating students for the gallery’s Recent Graduates Exhibition.
Pacific University’s chosen seniors this year are studio art major Emily Miller and studio art and journalism double major Janae Sargent.
According to art professor Doug Anderson, when considering which students’ work to submit, the art faculty at Pacific considers things such as artistic merit, craftsmanship, uniqueness of ideas, techniques and availability when selecting the two candidates for the exhibition.
Miller’s project, “The Wanderers”, is an interactive instillation.
The display involves electronics that make the environment respond to people as they interact with their surroundings, which includes Miller’s studio work, such as ceramics.
“It’s about curiosity and delight when you’re in an unknown environment, rather than being sort of cautious and afraid,” Miller said.
Sargent’s project, “Invisible People”, combines street art stencil paintings with objects she found in abandoned places.
Sargent said her project deals with mental health, suicide, domestic violence and poverty, with the goal of addressing the preconceived ideas some people have about these topics.
with mental health, suicide, domestic violence and poverty, with the goal of addressing the preconceived ideas some people have about these topics.
“It’s kind of amid at breaking down the stereotypes and stigmas around certain groups and people,” Sargent said.
Both Miller and Sargent spent about eight months working on their projects. They said they don’t think people realize how much time and work art majors put into their senior projects.
“(As artists) We’re trying to teach ourselves as we go and I think the majority of my time was spent just trying to learn how to do stuff,” Sargent said.
According to Anderson, the show at Blackfish Gallery offers students a first step into the Portland art scene and a chance to display their art in a more professional setting. Both seniors said they are excited to get the experience of showing in a professional gallery that has a serious reputation.
“The experience to be in a gallery is just a really wonderful confidence boost as we’re entering the workforce,” Sargent said.
They are also looking forward to seeing the work of other graduates that will be shown at the gallery.
Miller and Sargent’s work will be on display at the Blackfish Gallery in the Recent Graduates Exhibition in July. Until then, both projects will be can be found, along with free food and the other senior art work, in the Cawein Gallery from noon to one on Senior Projects Day, April 27. The projects will stay up through commencement.