Senior studio art majors reflected personal experiences through their work in Fawick exhibition

At the Fawick Gallery, the senior studio art majors showcased ihe individual works they were proud of while collectively sharing in the theme of “inner portrait” in which they revealed their individuality and personal growth.


Ursula Saadeh

A selection of work by Aliyah Beechuk.

The 2023 Studio Art Senior Exhibition, which debuted on Feb. 27 and ran through March 24 in Fawick Art Gallery at the Kleist Center for Arts and Drama, showcased the work of senior studio art majors. 

The art exhibition served as a capstone for the artists, Nicole Ballachino, Aliyah Beechuk, Carissa Ferguson, Adrienne Jurick and Julie Wetzel, who worked rigorously over the last semester to compile their showcase. 

Each artist chose pieces they are proud to display, featuring several mediums such as ceramics, oil painting and woodblock print. Collectively, the artists shared a concept of “internal portraits,” in which they showcased their individuality and personal growth. 

“The most rewarding part of [the experience] was realizing that we all had a very similar theme within our work even though we’re all focusing on different aspects,” Jurick said.   

Ferguson said that their ceramic sculpture titled “Shrill Pain,” inspired by their experience going through difficult times last year, was a good demonstration of the artist’s displaying their personal growth.  

“My work deals a lot with shame and our defense systems — and I kind of derive that from the natural world,” Ferguson said. “[Shrill Pain] is what feels like an internal portrait of me going through that time. It’s really special to me to be able to look back on it.”   

Jurick’s work utilized natural elements, focusing specifically on caterpillars and their significance in the artist’s life. Jurick said her favorite piece was the large caterpillar sculpture she titled “My Buddy, Fear” due to a childhood experience.  

“One of the first memories I have is looking at this giant green caterpillar in a tree and not knowing what to do with myself,” Jurick said. “So, I kind of turned caterpillars into a way of characterizing my emotions and showing how my anxiety affects me.”   

Ballachino, whose display was largely composed of oil paintings, emphasized aspects of mundane life and personal objects.   

A selection of work by Aliyah Beechuk and Julie Wetzel. Photo credit to Ursula Saadeh

“My whole show is basically a self-portrait, but through my items instead of paintings of myself,” Ballachino said. “I feel like you can learn a lot about someone by the items they have.”   

Wetzel took yet another unique route in choosing to focus on radioactivity within her work by mixing fantasy with reality. Her favorite piece, “Thyroid Butterflies on Radioactive Flower,” was inspired by a radioactive iodine treatment she recently underwent for thyroid cancer.   

“My thinking with this piece was to do these thyroid butterflies, which are attracted to that huge radioactive flower,” Wetzel said. “Kind of like how, when I took that pill, it needed to grasp onto [the cancerous tissue].”   

Wetzel said she was proud of both her ambition in making this large complex sculpture and her ability to stay positive throughout her struggles.   

“Honestly, even though what I went through wasn’t cool, … going through personal experiences has led me to where I’m at right now,” Wetzel said. “I’m just proud of myself for being able to come up with something creative and make something good of the situation.”