What’s a masterpiece? Ask the artists who make them

Risa Fukaya – Horizon News & Features Editor

Students in all art classes from this academic year have an opportunity to show their work April 23-30 at the Regier Friesen Gallery in Friesen Center.  The students will show their masterpieces at this exhibition.

One student featured will be  sophomore Brenna Peters, a graphic design major Peters’s masterpiece is a poster based on a work of a famous artist, Michael Schwab. She said this is her masterpiece because she could make her poster looked pretty similar to Schwab’s original, which was the purpose of the assignment.

Brenna Peters with her masterpiece based on a work of Michael Schwab.

“Graphic design is fulfilling,” Peters said. “You are proud of it when you are done.”

Peters says her favorite pieces give her energy and excitement. She doesn’t even notice hours passing while she works on them, and even then, she wants to do more. On the other hand, it is hard for her to start working and be motivated when she working on themes that are not her favorite. She thinks that taking a break, doing some other things, and coming back later is a way to get motivated and be able to get more ideas.

“You have a bunch of random thing going on in your life and they don’t connect,” Peters said. “In graphic design, you have to find the order and the organization.”

Peters says she wants to make both her life and graphic design be in order and organized.

Sophomore Jaelyn Rufenacht is taking Ceramics II this semester. Her work will also be featured in the exhibition.

“The under gray turned out really well on it,” Rufenacht said, referring to a portion of her piece. “This is one of the first bowls that is actually usable.”

Jaelyn Rufenacht with her masterpiece.

She learns skills for her life in the Ceramics class.

“I think it’s a real good test of your patience,” Rufenacht said. “If you are willing to see the stuff through to the end, there are a lot of steps.”

Hanna Eastin, professor of art, is one of the instructors helping students like Rufenacht see those projects to the end. But imparting knowledge is just part of the process for Eastin. Watching everybody figure out how their hands work and watching things getting better and better is her favorite part.

As she gets to know the students, they open up.

“It starts out with clay, but it turns into talking about all different things,” Eastin said.

Eastin says she can tell the difference between a masterpiece and other work that’s not her favorite.

“When I make a mug, the handle feels really nice, and your lips where you drink from also feels nice,” Eastin said. “When those two things come together, it’s really exciting.”

But beyond the physical attributes is the beauty of the process, according to Eastin.  She said Ceramics class gives the students some skills that are important to their real lives.

“Sometimes the students struggle to be patient as they wait for something to click in them,” Eastin said. “Even if it’s a struggle, they are still in the creative mindset, and its different mindset to typing words on laptops.”

Eastin said the Ceramics class can be an opportunities for meditation.

“Stop worrying about other things and focus on doing something,” Eastin said. “Eventually, the struggle becomes less or ends.”

She wants students to find fun in the class, learn about clay and themselves.

Sophomore Chloe McNiel is taking photography this semester. Her masterpiece is a photo of her friend, Mariah Trible. Since she is a people person when she photographs, her favorite pieces are mostly of people. She likes photography that gives those people a voice.

Chloe McNiel with her masterpiece: a photograph of her friend, Mariah Trible

McNiel says she tries to use the skills from the class even when she takes photos by her phone. She especially pays attention to the three rules of photography, distance to the objects, beautiful light, and background.

“I’m definitely very aware of the rules now whenever I look at photos,” McNiel said.

The definitions of masterpieces depend on every single person.

“The work that has a unique perspective, point of view, and present something in a manner so that subject of photograph speaks to some point.” Bruce Plank, art professor, said.

Plank said that knowing if a work of art is your masterpieces takes time.

“The really good work is timeless,” Plank said. “Time is the best measure [to know] when you get something really worthwhile.”

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