Someone will change my title anyway

Guy Schuil

It’s widely received that the culmination of all our experiences, good and bad, molds us; the result of this culmination, when paired with initiative, breeds beautiful ends.

The Senior Waves Exhibit celebrates the individual transformation of each senior graduating from the NMU art and design program. Nerves echoed through the museum as graduates from every discipline gathered to participate in an installation workshop hosted by museum director, Melissa Matuscak, and exhibitions manager, Chris Moore.

The workshop informed students where and how their work would be displayed. For many, like Zane Paquet, this was their first time installing any work. Human centered design major Paquet said, “people were nervous for the hang [of the installations],” but that “it’s been pretty relaxed and everything has been going really smoothly.”

A rhythm of solidarity and collaboration swayed through different areas of the exhibit as some graduates were more confident with power tools than     others.

“I was on the computer all the time as a graphic design major,” Matuscak, an NMU alumna, said. “I wasn’t regularly using power tools so I have a lot of empathy for those students that, too, are less versed.”

Senior art education and painting major Alison Taras shared that, “using a drill is something slightly out of my comfort zone so it helps having artists in a different concentration next to you as we’re working with such a vast array of media and means of install; it’s important to work together.”

To mirror this support system are the compositional qualities found throughout the exhibit.

“The piece to the left flows really well into mine,” Taras said. “My work is broad and comprehends all aspects of the universe and all forms of education. The artist to my left, Jennifer Mitchell, is a graphic designer but she focused on the importance of art education and the role of creativity in learning so our pieces are really able to have                       that conversation.”

While those works, through proximity, were able to have a conversation, exhibitions manager, Chris Moore said this wasn’t intentional. For the last three years, Moore has been in charge of organizing the exhibition space. He utilizes a spreadsheet system that seniors fill out with information regarding their installation needs: wall space versus floor space, electricity, weight and more.

From there, he filled out a digital map of the exhibit to explore what might, or can, go where. While some of the exhibit’s compositional qualities come as happenstance, the compositional qualities of individual work is everything but.

Every student that passes through NMU’s art and design program must go through a variety of cognate courses respectively named visual, physical and social structures and concepts.

These courses provide foundations of art that enable artists to transform their personality and life experiences into work that effectively communicates their intentions.

Julian Gaines’ drawing and painting piece articulates this transformation as an individual and an artist.

“All of my work is freehand and permanent — no pencil,” Gaines said. “My father taught me at an early age that pencil teaches you to make mistakes and erase them.”

Just as the layers of good intention build on the canvas to create Gaines’ work, so do the artists themselves, to inspire their own transformations.

Imagine the sheer number of experiences you have gone through to get where you are — to become who you are.

As you walk through the Senior Waves Exhibit, showing through May 1, I urge you to take with you a spirit of curiosity. Consider the transformation of the artist — the individual —that is staring back at you with the cultivation of their current being.

Allow it to remind us that we are all a work in progress and with initiative, you will breed a      beautiful end.