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W&L’s Staniar Gallery Presents “Transformations” The senior thesis exhibition will be on view April 1-12.

staniar-senior-2-e1711390144901-600x400 W&L’s Staniar Gallery Presents “Transformations”

Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery is pleased to present “Transformations,” the 2024 Senior Thesis Exhibition, on view in the Lenfest Center for the Arts from April 1 through April 12, with artist talks and a reception slated for 5:30 p.m. on April 1.

The exhibition and opening reception events are free and open to the public.

“Transformations” will feature the work of graduating studio art majors Arden Floyd, Jed Heald, Lynda Moran, Molly Pennisi and Langley Steuart. The title of the exhibition was chosen by the students to represent the thematic intersection of their works, which explore various instances of transforming an image or perspective.

The senior thesis exhibit is a requirement of the studio art major at W&L and builds upon the work started during the students’ junior seminar. Over the past year, this group of student artists has worked alongside each other in the gallery’s senior studio, exchanging ideas and fine-tuning their own work in a place of collaboration. The students are also responsible for installing their pieces in the gallery, which encourages them to think about space and how they want their work to be received by audiences.

The opportunity to present in a gallery that has housed well-known artists over the years marks an important milestone for the students, as they join an artistic lineage with prominent artists such as Mary Mattingly and Nestor Armando Gil. The studio art seniors also met with the Staniar Gallery’s visiting artists during their time at W&L, getting the unique opportunity to have renowned artists view their work and offer suggestions.

For Steuart, the exhibition feels like the culmination of her art career at W&L. Her series, “Imperfect Reflections,” explores notions of beauty through distorted photographic prints, mixed media canvases and collage elements. By challenging societal beauty standards, the work aims to promote self-acceptance and critique media influence on self-image, culminating in a cohesive self-representation across multiple canvases.

“To be able to go through the process of creating a work of art and then displaying it in a gallery not only gives you real-life experience, but it is also exciting to have the opportunity to show the work you have been working on all year with the W&L community,” Steuart said. “With this experience, I see art in a new light, recognizing all the steps that go into a gallery show that one might not think about when they look at my paintings on the wall.”

Moran’s work also challenges societal expectations for perfection. Her mixed media series, “Imperfect,” reflects a journey from perfectionism to embracing imperfection as she undertakes an iterative process to transform a selfie. Moran experiments with creating without preconceived notions to produce imperfect images that symbolize self-acceptance and embracing flaws.

Heald’s series reflects on the need for introspection, agency and escape from the modern world’s noise. He constructed a 6-foot-by-8-foot room to allow viewers to temporarily isolate themselves from reality, which emphasizes finding an authentic reality amid societal projections, seeking refuge and replacing outdated patterns of thought with healthier perspectives and practices.

Floyd’s creative process intertwines storytelling and artwork, where narratives inspire visuals and vice versa. Her exhibit, “Prologue,” utilizes grayscale paintings and digital art, drawing inspiration from fantasy illustrators to create a series exploring heroism, villainy and personal struggles in a fictional world.

Pennisi’s series, “Tension on the Water,” is influenced by her time on the W&L women’s swimming team and reflects her deep connection with water, symbolizing refuge and release from life’s uncertainties. Her photographs portray this bond by capturing the swimmer’s immersion, depicting the unpredictable nature of life versus the calm beneath the surface.

“Being able to create a project that centers around my passion for the water and to have it come together is so rewarding,” Pennisi said. “It was incredible to mix art and swimming and to push those boundaries with much encouragement and guidance from my professors.”

“Transformations” will be accompanied by the work of students currently taking the studio art junior seminar, which is on view in Lykes Atrium for the duration of the senior thesis exhibition.

For more information about the 2023-24 exhibition and programming schedule, visit Staniar Gallery’s website.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. When the campus is open to the public, gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.