The Gorham Art Gallery was packed on Friday night as graduating studio art majors gathered for the art program’s annual BFA exhibition in a both a celebration and a culmination of their undergraduate careers
The exhibition is part of a senior seminar class taught by Distinguished Professor of Art Rose Marasco, and represents the culminating work of 15 bachelor of fine arts candidates with work in various media including ceramics, digital art, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture.
The students, like the art, are varied, coming from different walks of life.
“Our program is very similar to USM as a whole,” said Marasco. “Every person and every piece of art here has its own story.”
Senior studio art major Alexander Jones came to USM to get his degree after serving abroad in the united States Marine Corps. Jones’ exhibition consisted of three paintings of men he went to school with. They were all killed overseas while serving in the military.
“They’ve got me through some rough times,” said Jones.
Jones’ work has been exhibited in Florence, Italy, Brooklyn, New York and more recently, the South Portland Community Center.
Friends and family are what brought Jones back to his hometown of South Portland. His love for those close to him shines through in his art.
The program has also brought together unlikely duos.
Senior studio art majors Lydia Brown and Sarah McCullough started collaborating in the fall semester during an experimental drawing class. McCullough described herself as shy and a planner, whereas Brown is more open and organic.
“I took this experimental drawing class. There was no structure to it. We could do whatever we wanted, and it was difficult for me to get started,” said McCullough. “About a month into the course the professor called me out for not really doing anything, so I knew I had to get to work.”
This was when McCullough and Brown came together.
“I had been in a few classes with Lydia and I absolutely loved her art,” said McCullough. “I knew I wanted to do something big and collaborating always gets the creative juices flowing, so we started working together.”
The duo have created a massive piece for this exhibition. They started with a drawing of a pregnant mermaid and then let their piece evolve from there.
“It’s very organic,” said McCullough, “very fluid.”
“We basically just f–k around and watch what happens,” added Brown.
The artists went back and forth on the piece, crisscrossing and going over each other’s drawing with only black sharpies. The work is truly a group effort.
Just a few weeks ago the piece was removed from the New Science Building’s Ci2 lab where the students were working on it due to complaints about the mermaid’s exposed breast. While some in the New Science Building found it offensive, the piece was constantly surrounded by excited visitors at the exhibit.
They had to work in this lab due to the size of the project. The walls in the art studio weren’t tall enough to house their art.
“I want all my students to leave the BFA program with a sense of direction, knowing their strengths and what they’re capable of,” said Marasco.