Across Beacon Street and out of sight from a campus teeming with kids in scrubs and presentation-day suits, Boston College senior studio art majors presented their first semester theses in the Murray Carriage House. It seemed symbolic—crossing the street to arrive at the university property-turned-gallery and shedding the pre-professional focus that dominates life at BC.
Often, the arts at BC seem like an afterthought. We have wonderful performance groups, but studio art in particular is not emphasized. It is, of course, only one major out of many across four different schools, but it remains under the radar. This year, in fact, there were only nine seniors presenting their work. However, it only took a few minutes of walking through the gallery's rooms to forget the anomalous nature of the event.
Lining the walls were masterful paintings, drawings, collages, and videos in a variety of media. The works were explorations of identity and culture, carefully crafted over the course of the semester. Reading the artists’ statements, however, it was apparent that their theses were the culminations of lessons learned in many different classes and through many different experiences, incorporating philosophy, communications, and history.
Also featured at the exhibit was a table covered in painted rocks and purple bumper stickers, emblazoned with the words “The Good Collective.” The Good Collective is a Boston College endowment that aims to provide art students with materials and studio time without the student debt that so often accompanies these resources. There is currently no grant support in place at BC, so this endowment aims to aid students in their creative pursuits, eliminating the restrictions that money can so often place. At this particular event, visitors could purchase stickers for $1 or rocks for a donation anywhere between $5 and $30, however much the consumer felt was appropriate.
The Good Collective emphasized the sense of camaraderie and community in the room. Each artist had such an appreciation for everyone who came to see the show, as well as of all the other artists in the room. When asked about her favorite piece in the show, Brielle Mariucci, MCAS '17, gushed over a peer’s piece instead of one of her own. The said piece was a video installation by Jessica Lu, MCAS '17, about a Chinese Smoking School.
Brielle’s own work couldn’t have been more different. She created a series of black-and-white portraits, overlaid with collaged images of technology. These portraits attempted to “explore how tangled, web-like layers of technology interact with words and images, which both define and negate my peers’ unique attributes,” elaborated the artist.
This conflict of identity is something we can all relate to, proving the cultural relevance of these pieces. Brielle, however, was not the only senior who used her work as social commentary. Caroline Connolly, MCAS '17, created large black-and-white drawings, capitalizing on our nation’s obsession with “food porn.” Tori Fisher, CSOM '17, created collages of wires and sheet metal made out of deconstructed phones and computers, exploring the way communication breaks down by literally breaking down modes of communication.
The show boasted everything from oil paintings to drawings to collages to videos. It was a breath of fresh air, and an escape from the ever-referenced “BC bubble.”