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“Figuratively Speaking…”

"Layers of My Life" mixed media by Donni Later

Donni Later’s mixed media installation, “Layers of My Life,” is among works on display in Nightingale Gallery April 22-May 6. Other EOU senior artists exhibiting are Victoria Davis, Erica Hitzman, Sheyenne Johnson and Madeline Royce.

Senior exhibition “Figuratively Speaking…” opens April 22

News contact: Laura Hancock | University Advancement | 541-962-3585 or lhancock@eou.edu
Source contact: Cory Peeke | Nightingale Gallery | 541-962-3584 or cpeeke@eou.edu

LA GRANDE, Ore. April 8, 2016 Nightingale Gallery at Eastern Oregon University presents the second exhibition of senior capstone work by graduating art majors opening Friday, April 22 with a reception from 6-8 p.m.

Victoria Davis, of Southern California, Erica Hitzman, of Pendleton, and Sheyenne Johnson, Donni Later and Madeline Royce, all of La Grande, are showing work in the exhibit “Figuratively Speaking…”

As the name suggests, each of these artists works figuratively using personal relationships, inner turmoil, forced stereotypes and the journey of life itself as inspiration for their bodies of work.

Through a variety of mediums, perspectives and experiences, “Figuratively Speaking…” is an exhibit that delves into the experiences of being human through sculpture, photography, painting and mixed media.

Davis’ work plays with the concept of making invisible concepts visible. By taking black and white photographs, adding different mediums on top of the photo and then re-photographing the piece, she makes the photos look as if the marks have always been there. These marks are representative of the psychological perspectives people have constantly going through their minds.

A double major in art and psychology, Davis marries these two passions in her current work. Getting to know people and how they function scientifically, and how this internal activity affects personal interactions, intrigues her. She pairs that with her interest in photography and abstract mark-making to create a visual of how she perceives other people. Each portrait is given a unique ambiguous art representation based on what she believes is going on in the subject’s mind.

Hitzman’s work is a combination of decadence and decay. By painting hyper-realistic images on rotting but beautiful backdrops, she endeavors to give the pieces a sense of faded beauty, commenting on fleeting youth and the unexpected splendor age can bring. Having spent many years in the advertising industry, Hitzman has felt the negative effects the media can have, especially on women. Her work is her own exploration of what it feels like to be treated as an object, and the wear and tear such experiences can have on an individual.

Johnson’s work investigates the self, and the psychological idea of connectivity and disconnect through figures, objects and textures. Her work explores both the cognitive inner feelings of disconnect, as well as the outer possibilities of interaction with others and the world as a whole.

W.E.B. Du Bois talked about a ”two-ness” – an in-between existence as “an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals….” This concept and liminal experience are constants for Johnson, while she explores this dichotomy in her art. Materiality, gravity, form, gender, race and internal turmoil are all considered when she is developing a new work.

Like Davis, Johnson is double majoring in art and psychology and has always been intrigued by the inner workings of the mind. She is constantly looking for new ways to artistically express her daily struggles.

Exploring the ideas of what relationships, family and identity mean to her is fundamental to Later’s work. She stitches together faded memories of her ancestors, tying her recollections of them to moments from her life now. The physical ties help her to remember and honor those important relationships, while at the same time connecting her and her children with their lineage.

Later is also interested in the layers that make up relationships. Using screen-printing, she melds images of couples onto translucent cloth, allowing the two individuals to become one. She further explores these relationships by exposing the sensitive and private thoughts and feelings of these couples through handwritten text stitched into the fabric. These explorations are helping her to better understand her identity and connections, as well as others’ relationships.

Royce’s work is about growth and decay and the delicate course of life. She creates figures out of live flowers and then photographs them to preserve them in their flourishing state. She is fascinated by the delicate course of life, be it of a person or a flower. Through her work, she is able to study the degeneration of flowers and how they reflect the atrophy of human life.

See the engaging work of these five seniors through May 6 in Nightingale Gallery in Loso Hall. Gallery hours are 12 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more about the exhibition call 541-962-3667, visit www.eou.edu/art or connect with the gallery on Facebook.