By Erin Brody, Staff Writer
The Verostko Center for the Arts recently greeted the SVC community and visitors with a blue sign displaying seven names from the class of 2022. Those names are art education majors Alexis Chittum and Lauren Hartner, studio art majors Andrew Deaton and Robbie Kollar, digital art and media and studio art double majors Maddy Montefour and Matis Stephens, and studio art and English double major Clair Sirofchuck.
Each artist displayed a different focus in their work, ranging from paintings to clay creations. Some even present more than one medium of art, but the most fascinating part of the exhibit is how each artist was able to convey what art means to them.
Alexis Chittum had four items to display that specialize in “earthenware clay, stained glass, wire, and knife painting.” In her artist biography, Chittim said she uses art as a means of understanding the world around her along with herself.
“Through the colors of the heart, my work displays the delicacy, gravity, intensity, challenge, and all shades found in between the highs and lows of life,” Chittum said.
Beyond graduation, Chittum plans to teach middle school art and hopes to show how art can be a physical expression of emotions.
Fellow art education major Lauren Hartner also uses art to “[explore] vulnerability and raw emotion,” especially in order to show her passion for social issues. Hartner minors in disability studies and hopes her teaching career will show those she teaches that, as an educator, she is an advocate “for our youth and environment.” Hartner’s works each strongly display emotions, typically ones many are reluctant to talk about.
“Through my body of work, I aim to increase vigilance about the significance of vulnerability and its relation to a deeper understanding of others,” Hartner said.
Andrew Deaton concentrates on stained glass and acrylic surrealism “to communicate peace and equality.” Deaton specifically uses anatomy to show the “shared out-of-body experience” each person has encountered.
Post-graduation, Deaton hopes to utilize his artwork in movie sets and parade floats.
“It is my aim to fight injustice with art, open minds, and to share an idea of egalitarianism that shows our shared commonalities,” Deaton said.
Alternative photographer and printmaker Robbie Kollar draws inspiration from his childhood in Latrobe. His work in the Verostko Center “document[s] relationships over the past year” and unique experiences that will never occur again. Kollar’s work is inspired by queer artists who “hold space” for those outside of the LGBTQ+ community in hopes of creating inclusivity.
“My work records moments of intimacy and encapsulates youth while allowing me to observe the ways in which other people perceive themselves and their own ever-evolving identities,” Kollar said in his artist’s biography.
Like Kollar, Maddy Montefour “[relies] on intuition, personal memory, and creative investigation” in her work. Specifically, Montefour uses art to express feelings like anxiety and depression. She hopes to show others that their feelings and hardships create the beauty within life.
“In my work, I assemble various elements of chaos from inside my head and marry them artistically in a way which I find comforting and calming,” said Montefour. “I work spontaneously with openness, turning ‘mistakes’ into exciting new shapes and patterns without a template or preconceived directions.”
Matis Stephens views art as a means to take one concept and give it a different meaning. In Stephens’ case, she uses materials such as bones and symbols of death to become symbols of life. Stephens drew this idea from curio shops where “the scientific and the artistic merge within a creative and bizarre context,” and Stephens uses “paint, inks and clays” to unify science and art.
“Nature reconstructs the dead into a fertilizer that forms its new creations, separating the bones that remain as a memory of days gone by,” Stephens said. “These bones are symbols of the long gone, but can’t they have a little fun, too?”
Clair Sirofchuck comes from an artistic family and specializes in painting. Her objective is to find the “beauty in [her] everyday life,” and her Catholic faith helps inspire that search.
After graduation, Sirofchuck plans on continuing her art while working at Main Exhibit Gallery & Art Center, her family’s business, as a curator and art teacher.
“My work serves as a pathway for those in search of beauty, enabling viewers to step into the brushstrokes and contemplate deeper truths,” Sirofchuck said. “Ultimately, I aim to encourage the viewer to embark on their own quest for beauty within the ordinary.”
These artists’ various works will be on display in the Verostko Center until Apr. 29.