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Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

Review: “Summer Salon” is a promising glimpse at what's to come from senior art students

A corner of the Summer Salon art show featuring Gabrielle Miller's and Faith Reagin's artwork.
A corner of the Summer Salon art show featuring Gabrielle Miller's and Faith Reagin's artwork.

Hardman Hall's Plunkett Gallery opened with its first exhibition of the year, titled “Summer Salon,” Sept. 17.

“Salon” comes from French, meaning “a large mixed exhibition,” fitting for a gallery hosting 10 of the senior art and graphic design majors: Olivia Cleveland, Ali Dupree, Savannah Duringer, Kennedy Fravel, Amanda Herrold, McKenna Johnson, Ellie Miller, Landon Miller, Sam Nelson and Faith Reagin. 

The “Summer” component gives context to the pieces, as they were all created over the summer of 2021. That time period — as well as the visible passion of each of these artists — is what ties together this eclectic show of styles and subjects. 

“This art show, honestly — it’s interesting because it’s what we do when we’re not told what to do, and so we all kind of did what we wanted to do, what we want to paint and how we want to create,” Ellie Miller said. 

Two of Miller’s pieces currently hang in the Plunkett Gallery. They are both detail shots, mere prints of the much more massive paintings she’s been working on over the past few months. 

One is a painting of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture, “The Rape of Proserpina.” The work is famous for the way Bernini manipulated a hard material like marble to look as soft as flesh. 

Miller observes the piece in an entirely different medium — oil paints, not sculpture — yet it is every bit as passionate and tender as the original. 

Front and center of the gallery, Amanda Herrold took a different approach to the time she was given to create this summer. Her pieces are not studies of tangible objects, but rather studies on the abstract act of creation. Colorful, bold strokes fill Herrold’s canvases, simultaneously contrasting dark and light colors as well as harsh lines with soft blending.  

My personal favorite piece is placed at the bottom left of Herrold’s collection. Something about the neon yellow streaked and dripped over the purple and black background of brushstrokes calls to the viewer. Upon closer inspection, I found it was the little bits of glitter half-buried in the paint that were winking me over. 

At a cross between Miller and Herrold exists Faith Reagin, who employs both observational and abstract work in her summer oeuvre. 

“My art in this show was very experimental because that’s just sort of where I went in my studio this summer,” Reagin said. “I played around with texture and different colors and how they lay on top of each other, as well as still lives. I was really interested in the shadows and the colors of those and how to transfer light as it sits on objects into paint.”

Reagin handles both representational and non-representational styles with an expertly trained hand. Though there is a fluorescent pink self-portrait hanging in the top left of her collection, the study of her key ring right below it could also be considered a self-portrait with all the clear, meticulous care she put into capturing its details. 

Moreover, the wiggly, drippy, bubbly abstract pieces to the right of Reagin’s collection are simply motivating viewers to be loose and fun with their own creative work. 

These three artists are only a peek at all the skill contained in this senior class of creatives. As they practice more throughout this year, there is no doubt that the annual end-of-year senior art show at the downtown McEachern Art Center on Bear Day 2022 will be truly incredible. 

“It’s the beginning of something,” Herrold said about "Summer Salon." “There’s something very personal about it and very connective about it.”

"Summer Salon" is a temporary installation and is currently planned to run until mid-October. Stop by Hardman Hall and check out these artists’ work while you still can.


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