After multiple grueling years of hard work and effort, students in their final year at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are applying everything they have learned at ASU in an exhibition project.
Titled "Configuration," the four-day exhibition will see various pieces of artwork across multiple mediums — ranging from painting to photography — created and organized by a group of seven students.
Despite coming from various backgrounds and specializing in different art forms, the students spent the majority of their final semester collaborating together on the development of "Configuration."
The students were allowed to cover a wide array of topics in their works. Mikey Estes, a fine arts specialist overseeing the exhibition, said that this was to allow the students to be more explorative, a crucial skill for professional artists.
"Giving students the opportunity to be creatively fulfilled is important," Estes said. "Most artists have to be self-sufficient and make their own shows instead of being told what to do. By doing the exhibition like this, it won’t be a mystery for students when they graduate."
Estes said that he and other professors act merely as a guide for students, rather than a creative force in their work, to help them achieve their goals.
"You learn by doing," Estes said. "I mostly encourage them to use this exhibition as an opportunity to express themselves and display work that they’re proud of."
Such sentiment has been shared by the students involved. This includes Chele Pacheco, a senior majoring in painting and drawing. Pacheco, whose artistic background is in art therapy, explained how much of her work for the exhibition is inspired by a major life-changing injury she endured.
"This exhibition gave me the chance to be able to express certain thoughts and feelings I had but I didn’t have the words for," Pacheco said. "I hope that’s something that those who attend the exhibition can understand from my art pieces."
For Alija Luna, a senior majoring in painting, the exhibit's creative freedom was a strong learning experience.
"I wanted to have a whole variety of works from different mediums," Luna said. "It’s a great way to differentiate us to allow for a greater variety for attendees to enjoy."
Despite the independence provided to students in the exhibition, Estes still underscored the importance of the group aspect of "Configuration."
"I think that (the) collaborative element of the exhibition is a major skill I want the students to understand," Estes said. "It’s an important challenge to overcome, especially when working with people from different artistic backgrounds and who have different creative visions."
This is something that Elizabeth Batronis, a senior studying drawing, discussed in detail as a fundamental component of the exhibition.
"We individually don’t have a connection to each piece," she said. "But they are all cohesively connected because of how we worked with each other. I think that goes a long way in elevating the exhibition overall."
This collaboration, however, was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Some of my group members I’ve only met once," Pacheco said. "So it was initially hard to get a grasp of who I connected with creatively, personally and professionally when communication is tight."
However, Luna explained that having a common desire was something that kept the group tightly connected.
"We all had the same end goal," Luna said. "So in the end, everything came in together. We all knew who was doing what and when."
For example, Pacheco was responsible for writing the press releases and relaying them to the group, while others such as Batronis aided in the development of the title of the exhibition.
This synergy allowed the students to still be able to cooperate despite limited communication.
Estes hopes the biggest takeaway for the audience attending is to recognize the talent and hard work of the students.
"I want this to be an opportunity for the attendees to see how talented these students are," Estes said. "More importantly, realize how despite the students’ different perspectives, they were able to come together and develop something so incredible."
"Configuration" will be open until April 14 at Gallery 100 from 5 to 7 p.m., located in Mirabella at ASU.