Sophmore Patrick Steppan (left) and sophmore Alyssa Stetkevych (middle) speak to sophmore Zuri Peterson (right) about her work during the Al Young art show. The show will be hosted from May 4-12 at the Center of Fine Arts from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
While visiting Galesburg to judge the 2018 Al Young Art Show, New York critic and painter John Zinsser shared his impression that art is a core value to Knox College.
“I’m really impressed with Knox College, it seems like this could really be a place where art is central to an ideal of liberal arts education,” Zinsser said.
Before the awards ceremony, students and faculty gathered in the round room of CFA lobby on Friday, May 4 to observe Zinsser’s lecture titled “Becoming and Belonging” where he discussed the start of his artistic career. From studying art history at Yale University to moving to New York City, Zinsser discovered the importance of allowing his artwork to carry autonomy.
“Each time I make a painting, it is not the painting that I saw in my mind before I started to make the painting. It is a painting that has taken itself somewhere else … I want it to come into being on its own terms,” Zinsser said.
Much of Zinsser’s art is classified as minimalism, post-minimalism and monochrome painting, often working with cobalt blue and cadmium red. While these simplistic styles are often met with criticism concerning the value of an artwork that is seemingly easy to create, Zinsser discussed how his works function in terms of intention.
“I meant to put this brushstroke here, there’s no re-working the thing … All of these things that I’ve invested myself into, which had to do with the 1970s and these changes and definitions of art, which are both philosophical and visual, are compressed into my intentions and what I want [spectators] to say is: ‘That’s a direct statement, he’s doing that for a reason.’”
He also discussed how his art reflects his personal identity and past experiences.
“Why is this a painting about personal identity if it’s just abstract. two colors and lines going here and there? Because of the quality of the line and something about who I am in the same way that you do [with] any kind of art where you bring the language of personal drawing into painting … When you bring some very essential part of your childhood experience into the expressions you make as an adult, those kinds of things are present here.”
Senior Elise Goitia, who received an honorable mention in painting for her piece “Old Main through Watery Eyes,” shared her ideas on the value of studying a professional artist’s personal and career history.
“It’s very important to learn about artist’s professional lives and personal lives when also looking at how your own life influences your artwork. It gives you a bit of a more humanistic understanding as to where inspiration and influences for art actually come from.”
Any Knox student who was enrolled in an art course during the same year of the Al Young Art Show is able to submit their work. Goitia believes that the Al Young Art Show is a celebration of Knox’s art scene rather than a harsh competition.
“Anybody walking on the Knox campus will probably get the vibe that we are a very welcoming, kind community and I feel like that’s really reflected in the attitudes of the Al Young Art Show … This inclusivity of ‘anybody can be a part of this’ is also supported by ‘anybody can win’ … Even if you don’t win, it doesn’t mean that your stuff isn’t phenomenal,” Goitia said.
She also appreciates how the show helps to prepare students who wish to pursue art as a career:
“It’s very cool because we have the opportunity to win cash prizes. You can put down that you won a prize in an art show! To have that to showcase in the future is a really great thing, especially for anyone who wants to pursue art post-knox.”
While seated in the CFA lobby, students received prizes and recognition in multiple art mediums. While the Round Room only displayed some of the show’s paintings, drawings and prints; as photography, ceramic, and mixed-media works were displayed in WAC, those who attended the art show were surrounded by a fraction of Knox’s talent. Sophomore Zoe Pearce commented on the effect that the Round Room had on her viewing experience.
“I was noticing that I was just being pulled along … [The works] are very vibrant and full of color. You could almost just keep going and using what you’ve seen to reflect on what you’re seeing now, everything builds on itself. They emulate the feeling [of Knox],” said Pearce.