By Ainsley Feeney
The Kittredge Gallery tucked away near the Welcome Center, goes relatively unnoticed by students outside of the Art and Art History Departments. However, the 2022 Art Student Annual proves Kittredge as a hidden gem on campus. The innovative work of students transforms the space from a mundane campus building into a modern art exhibit. The paintings, drawings, sculptures, and video art from the Picassos and Van Goghs of The University add color and life to the space.
The Art Student Annual highlights the best and brightest art students at The University. Pieces from the previous year’s art classes are submitted to be judged and curated for the exhibit by a community juror. This year, Silong Chhun served as the selected juror. Chhun is a Digital Communications Manager at Pacific Lutheran University and a local art advocate. After the selection process, the student art is displayed in Kittredge Gallery for five weeks for students, faculty, and the local community to admire.
Claire Gustafson, senior, is one of these talented students featured in the exhibit. She showed me a sculpture work she created in her Metalworking class. She took inspiration from the Poliforum, a mural-covered building in Mexico City, Mexico. The piece has a solid silver metal base, but is otherwise covered in bright red yarn. Furthermore, blue, black, and white yarn pom-poms hang off the ends, creating a youthful and fun feel. “I really wanted to take inspiration from, like, the playfulness of the colors, but also integrate my childhood experience into the creative process,” Gustafson said. As a Spanish minor, Gustafson incorporated her personal passions into an awe-inspiring work of art.
I imagined that each piece had a similar story behind it as I walked through the exhibit. The art evoked a feeling of sonder: the realization that everyone has a life and story just as complex as my own. I wondered how the works I was looking at could mean something deeply important to each artist. One work, called Safe Space, showed everyday scenes from a person’s bedroom, giving a small glimpse into a stranger’s life. Another, titled Protagonist, depicted a young person of color showing off their top surgery scars. A piece called Tiny Pots! featuring, of course, tiny ceramic pots, speaks for itself. In fact, the artist was so excited about their pots that they couldn’t help but add an exclamation point. In a strange way, through artwork I felt connected with my fellow students, even though I had never met them.
Come visit these amazing works of art, and more, which are on display in Kittredge Gallery until Feb. 26.