Fine arts students show hard work

By Rebekah Frank

Senior James Barrett attempted a hamster wheel, but none of his supplies wanted to cooperate, so he changed it to reflect the process of building. Photo by Sam Sargeant
Senior James Barrett attempted a hamster wheel, but none of his supplies wanted to cooperate, so he changed it to reflect the process of building. Photo by Sam Sargeant

EWU seniors James Barrett and Kiyomi Chadwell used wood, bricks and glue in preparation for the final showdown for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program.

During fall and winter quarters, students in the B.F.A. program must complete works of art to showcase to professors in the art department for critique. If the professors feel the student has not put forth enough effort, or if the work of art does not meet department standards, the student will be cut from the program.

Chadwell said this program is a lot of hard work to stay in and to get through; two students have already been cut.

“The B.F.A. program is for our more advanced students, and so we put them through almost an M.F.A. type of program to prepare our students,” said EWU associate professor of art Greg duMonthier.

Students in the B.F.A. program must produce these bodies of art throughout the year on top of their regular class work. Chadwell said it is difficult to focus on both tasks at the same time. “It’s kind of this pressure to make work and just not think about the classes,” she said.

Barrett explained that students apply for the B.F.A. program their junior year and submit their portfolio for the faculty to decide whether they will be admitted or not. If a student is admitted, they must create their works of art throughout the year, showcase them in the B.F.A. show and defend their choices to the faculty at the end of the year.

The B.F.A. program, although rigorous, helps challenge the students to flourish, which many of them do. The goal is to encourage students to improve and grow as artists, duMonthier said.

Barrett had that experience first hand when his current installation did not turn out the way he had hoped. Barrett said his piece was originally going to be a big hamster wheel, but he could not make the wood he was using work the way he wanted.

Now his piece is focusing more on the process of building art rather than the artwork itself. He is using the piece as it is to demonstrate failure and the process of facing an insurmountable challenge.

“There is always some amount of change, pressures and failures and adapting to what you get and taking it and using it as it is,” said Barrett.

Chadwell’s piece serves as a representation and release of her frustration. When researching female artists and their artwork, Chadwell noticed many of the pieces had to do with yarn and string and was irritated by it.

“I was frustrated with seeing all that and so I compacted [the yarn] into these concrete bricks,” said Chadwell.

Chadwell also said her piece focuses on masculinity and femininity. Her work of art makes use of bricks and yarn, which are two different home building materials. The bricks build the home itself and the yarn can be used to make clothes for the people living in the home.

Both Chadwell and Barrett are awaiting their chance to showcase their artwork in the B.F.A. show. However, before they are able to do so, the art faculty must critique their works in hopes of helping them build up their skills as artists, so they will be stronger when they leave EWU.

“It just better prepares our students for life as an artist,” said duMonthier.