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Collage by Yeshi Parks

Senior studio art 2007


The senior studio art exhibition, Fuse, included the works of 24 students. Works by 11 of those student artists can be seen here.

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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 creating."

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
March-April, 2007

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