By Douglas M. Campbell
In Bliss Hall, behind the glass walls of the Judith Rae Solomon Gallery, 16 paintings with vibrant colors and pieces of the artists’ perspectives greet visitors who enter the premises.
Dragana Crnjak, a professor of art, organized the exhibition. Since March 1, the artwork of 10 students currently enrolled in either intermediate and advanced painting classes has been on display.
“It is based on the idea of recognizing and giving credit toward featuring and sharing works that usually are not shared. These are works in the exhibition featuring preparatory paintings and these are small studies by students who are first testing the materials, surfaces and ideas that might work and might not work,” Crnjak said.
The work in the exhibition reflects the students’ explorations of color, surface, composition and the synthesis between the formal and conceptual aspects of painting.
According to Crnjak, the term “small but mighty” refers to an invisible and unassuming work that is an essential foundation of future works. The students’ works will be painted on a larger scale later in the semester.
Crnjak met with every student involved in the exhibition to discuss their progress in creating their works.
“Every student is different — they have different sensibilities so there is more of a mentoring. I would say most of my colleagues in art are mentorists. Really working with a student centered approach where you have to understand and listen and there is a lot of give and take in the progress,” Crnjak said.
Patrick Savage, a senior fine arts major, is 70 years old and attended YSU for the past 10 years part-time. He describes his work in the exhibition as eclectic, following no particular style.
“The concept that I began the semester with was the idea of two separate realities being able to exist at the same time in the same place,” Savage said.
The goal of his work this semester is to cause people to view different interpretations of his painting.
“In my lifetime, there are a lot of circumstances where people can actually be looking at the same exact image or information and somehow or another come up with a completely opposite interpretation,” Savage said. “So I’m trying to exaggerate that tendency with the paintings I’m doing this semester.”
Rachel Hritz, a junior fine arts major, has two paintings on display at the exhibition. She normally works on larger paintings and had to adjust to painting on a smaller scale. Her work focuses on the loss of innocence using a misfit toy from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh.”
“My pieces that are up there tend to deal with intimacy with the two that are being shown, with just the composition of one of them are cropped in and zoomed in. You are extremely close to the subject. The other one is not as close, but is painted on the smaller surface that allows the intimacy between the viewer and the piece itself,” Hritz said.
Hritz said the intimacy between the viewer and painting occurs because the size of the painting forces the viewer to get close to the painting, interact with it and form a bond.
Crnjak reflects on the students’ work on display in the Judith Rae Solomon Gallery.
“I really never know what to expect with the work until it’s up on the wall. I really enjoyed seeing it all together on the wall. The relationships and this work really reflects students’ sensibilities,” Crnjak said. “How they like to paint and — I don’t want to say concerns — but things that matter to them.”
The Small But Mighty exhibition will be on display in Bliss Hall until March 26.