Fort Lewis College art students ready to go pro

Courtesy of Hillary Raab/Fort Lewis College Art Department

Works by Janine Gibbons and Jackie Beavers occupy a wall of the Fort Lewis College graduating art majors’ exhibit, “Balancing the Continuum.”

By Margaret Hedderman
Special to the Herald

For many of us, leaving college and entering “the real world” came as a bit of a shock, with the introduction of issues such as utility bills and student loans into our insular lives.

But for graduating art majors, “the real world” means finding a balance between staying true to artistic values and making a living. This year’s Fort Lewis College senior art students will show that balance in their final exhibit “Balancing the Continuum.”

The show, which opens Monday, features a mix of fine art and professional work from the nine graduating seniors. The art department, which has developed a strong focus on graphic design in recent years, has sought to develop students’ technical and professional skills. Seven of the nine students in the show are graphic design majors.

“As thriving artists, we all had very rough and beginning artwork and as we are stepping out of college and into the world of art we have to balance that continuum,” said senior Rebecca Young. “We’re trying to balance professional and personal.”

“They want to try to show their client-based graphic design work,” said Chad Colby, the senior class instructor. “But also some of the work that they’ve done on their own.”

With seven pieces on display, graphic design student Alex Mcintosh is hoping to demonstrate his professional design skill set as well as his personal artistic work.

“I’ve been in school for six years and now I’m getting paid internships and job offers,” Mcintosh said. “For me, (the show) is a time to look back on the last couple years and what I’ve done.”

“Balancing the Continuum” is as much an exhibition of the students’ unique skill sets as it is a representation of their artistic growth.

“One thing that I have learned over the years is that art is so freeing,” Young said. “I’ve gone from this controlled environment of needing to know every little detail to being able to express myself and have variety and freedom.”

Young is one of the two nongraphic designers featured in the show. As a Humanities major, Young has melded her interest in psychology and nature with textiles, creating an interactive mixed-media piece.

“It’s a connection between artwork and a psychological response,” Young said. “It was a way to manipulate and incorporate all three ideas: Artwork, human psychological response, and the actual material used.”

“Balancing the Continuum” will offer viewers an eclectic collection of artwork as well as an insight into the FLC art program.

“It is a beautiful gallery space and there’s no charge,” Colby said. “You can come up and see what the future of art looks like.”

“For me, I want people to be there and recognize that ‘hey, we’re not just students any more. We’re artists,’” Mcintosh said. Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango.

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