Art in Small Bites: MFA student exhibit brings up perspective

Senior Bachelor of Fine Arts students show off their final senior projects at the Art Space in Willimantic. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The final Art in Small Bites lecture at the William Benton Museum of Art covered the Masters of Fine Arts student exhibitions. Given the nature of the pieces, this gave Benton Docent Nancy Silander an opportunity to discuss perspective, both in the context of where someone physically stands in relation to a piece, but also how the biases of the artist and the audience can influence the meaning of a piece of artwork.

“Perspective is very important in art,” Silander said in relation to Erin Koch Smiths’ piece, “Necklace.” An installation created with tulle and terracotta, the piece more closely resembled a necklace from far away while up close, the terracotta pieces more closely and perhaps intentionally resembled roadkill, according to Silander.

Other pieces by students Jelena Prljević and Kelsey Miller also revealed different things based on where you were standing.

One of Preljevic’s pieces was off in an alcove, rounded images of buildings lit with a projection to show changing light sources. Just waiting as the lights changed revealed a different image, but according to Silander stepping closer to look at the architecture in the image gave a very different impression than enjoying the theatrical light show from further back.

As for Miller, a political piece used nails and string to spell out “NOT NOW” in large letters across one wall, but when moving in closer, you saw that each nail was numbered and related to a political statement.

Silander also discussed how the perspective of the artists was important.

“Claire Stankus is a woman who likes to look at things from the top down,” Silander said, commenting on art student Stankus’s oil on panel paintings.

Subjectivity comes out in photography well.

“With the photography it’s not objective,” fourth semester mechanical engineering student Matthew Stojanov said as a tour member. “The photographer brings their biases and preconceptions with them.”

Art student Kaleigh Rusgrove’s featured photographs related to environmentalism, however Silander shared Rusgrove’s outlook on photography.

“What you choose to see, you’ve chosen not to see something else,” Silander said.

Beyond just what an artist brings to the table, Silander also touched upon what the audience brings. Smith had several abstract oil on canvas paintings with names like “Dragon” and “Turtle.” Silander explained how the audience understands these pieces based on what they imagine they can see within them.

Stojanov also explained how for him, Prljevic’s pieces meant more because he had experience with the kind of buildings she depicted in her work, giving him a connection that allowed him to see the work in another light.

Although this was the last lecture of the Art in Small Bites lecture series, the Benton will pick up hosting lunchtime events in April in the form of outdoor walks to take a closer look at sculptures on campus.

“I love art,” UConn Foundation employee Deborah Romaniw said as a member of the tour. “I’m so happy they have a museum on campus but I hardly ever get here.”

The sculpture series will continue to provide shorter snippets of art, hopefully making it easier for students and community members to attend.


Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.