Senior studio art 2007
Fuse: a noun and a verb, an object and action.
A fuse can safely interrupt excessive electrical current or set off an
explosive charge. To fuse is to blend or melt, mix or combine.
That's just what happens every year in the capstone course for senior
studio art majors at the University of Maine.
The senior studio seminar is like a circuit breaker, challenging
students on multiple levels to step out of their comfort zones and
prepare to participate in the professional art world. The semester-long
course each fall also ignites practical plans for how to realistically
pursue their artistic passions.
"They get a sense of what it's like to be professional artists, segueing
from the student level," says Assistant Professor of Art and painter Ed
Nadeau, who teaches the course.
The class is designed to take students from the conceptualization of
their individual pieces of art to the installation of a public
exhibition of their works. Their art is critiqued twice. They must write
theses and artist statements, compile resumes and curriculum vitae. And
they must plan and carry out an exhibition — from installation to
publicity — that opens every December.
This year, that senior art exhibition was titled Fuse.
A focus of the capstone course is on critical thinking and the
communication of ideas. Nadeau helps the student artists home in on
where their ideas come from and what makes them unique. That
introspective exploration becomes theses, which are then distilled to
artist statements for the exhibition.
"That's the thread that's difficult," says Nadeau. "They're expected to
come up with artwork that they generate. They also have to be able to
talk about it formally and conceptually, communicating to their
audiences. They have to be able to articulate their ideas and go beyond
In the course, Nadeau also works to dispel what he says is the
romanticized myth of the artist as poor, starving, even half-crazed in
solitary pursuit of creativity.
"We talk about what is reality, separating fact from fiction," says
Nadeau. "Because the students have so many things to juggle in this
class, it becomes a metaphor for how they'll have to juggle art in their
lives. If they want to be artists, they have to balance their lives —
paying the mortgage, feeding the kids, creating.
"Being an artist is about how one lives one's life rather than about
just a job. It has to do with how you see life and relate to things. The
students walk away with a sense of continuity in how their work fits
into the art world."
by Margaret Nagle
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