Junior Kaelie Mae Seatter‘s painting hung large and colorful against the white walls of WAC. A bird’s head, blocks of colors, jagged designs and uneven edges are only some aspects of her large-scale painting that was shown during the Open Studio. The Studio Art and Education double major was thrilled by the response that she received after the show.
“People were asking about the work, which was really cool. People seemed to care about my work, which is always exciting,” Seatter said, smiling.
The Open Studio was an exciting experience for all the artists involved and took a lot of detailed planning to ensure that all the pieces would work well together.
“Since it was a group show, we were trying to think about ways that our work has influenced each other,” she said. “And we kind of balanced how we set it up based on that. So not all of our stuff was together in the same space, it was all shifted and that was pretty interesting.”
Seatter’s art has been a work-in-progress since starting her art major at Knox.
“I think it’s become a bit more concise. Like, freshman year I didn’t really know what I was doing and everything I made was all over the place; lots of different ideas stylistically. And then sophomore year I started to realize what I was interested in, which is very flat spaces and plain forms,” Seatter said.
“[My art is] very ambiguous so it’s hard to talk about. Most of it is about some type of memory or something that I’m working through. I use painting to work through feelings a lot, to process thought and feeling so it follows this narrative that is often very ambiguous,” she said.
Ambiguous as her art may be, she still has plans for the direction that she wants to see her work go in during her final year at Knox.
“I’ve been really interested in making books recently. I’ve been making big paintings, so maybe go in that direction for a while. Focus on smaller things. I also am interested in street art and murals, which I think would lend itself well to the style I’m interested in. Either really big or really small,” she said.
Junior Olivia Peterson hung her abstract pieces on the walls of WAC and waited for the reviews from peers and faculty to start coming in. Once the show started to get rolling, Peterson’s excitement built.
“I thought that it went really well, it was an exciting thing to see my friends and classmates come see what I am working on. I got mostly responses that were positive. Like, people saying that they liked my artwork. Some saying that they didn’t like certain pieces which is also good to hear. Any feedback is good,” Peterson said.
Much like the other artists showcased, Peterson felt as though her work has made major strides since she began her major.
“I am working with bigger ideas that I think are very relevant and important,” she said. “I want my work to ask a lot of questions, not just provide answers. The direction I have moved in has been towards painting landscapes and places that I feel rooted in. However, I want to push my art to become something that is bigger than just me. This is the idea that I am working with now.”
Peterson’s biggest inspiration is Hans Hofmann, an abstract expressionist painter whose colorful blocked paintings can be seen in subtle qualities in Peterson’s abstract work.
“I’m interested in [Hofmann’s] work and he makes me think a lot about formal problems and how I will handle form and color,” she said. “I’m very inspired by place and landscape and my experience and memories in these places. I tried to explore what different environments mean to people. I really tried to focus on specific spaces.”
Peterson doesn’t have a specific plan as to where her art will go within the next year Ñ the ideas are all abstract, just like her art.
“I am just really excited to get to spend a lot of time working on my art in open studio. I will finally have time to focus,” she said. “And I think the exciting thing is that I have no idea where my art will go within the next year. I just know that I will be able to produce a higher quantity and quality of artwork.”
For junior David Petrak, painting wasn’t always his dream. In fact, he didn’t even take his first painting class until his sophomore year at Knox. But once he did, he was hooked.
“After that first painting class I was like, ‘I could see myself doing this for the rest of my time at Knox,’ and it’s been really great,” Petrak said. His canvases were covered with colorful depictions of figures in all kinds of positions on the night of the Open Studio show on April 6.
“The series of paintings that were in the show were all paintings that envisioned different pathways that I could have seen my life taking from when I was a child until now,” he said. “So, they show me in different occupations or different lifestyles. It was all about different things I’ve envisioned myself doing. Even things I could see myself doing, even though I wouldn’t like doing it, I still painted it. It was fun.”
Petrak’s style is loose and fun, focusing on the passion and emotion behind painting as opposed to thinking too hard about his work.
“I wanted to paint it really quickly so I could get a really quick feeling to the painting, almost a casualness. I really like that, I think it’s really raw,” he said. “My process usually is very quick. I will try to complete a painting within one sitting. A lot of times I’ll go back to it after it’s dried and work back into it but with a lot of these paintings I did really detailed colored pencil drawings first so I could understand the layout of the painting and experiment with colors.”
“Learning and studying images and painting has been really helpful,” Petrak said. “But there’s definitely been times where I’ve been super lost and I don’t know what I’m doing, but those are sometimes the most fun times because you can try anything to get yourself out of it.”
Petrak still has a year until he graduates, giving him a lot of time to focus on his painting and experiment with style. All he knows so far is that in the future, he wants to create large pieces.