Senior studio art students reflect on their inspirations


Melanie EspinalArts & Entertainment Editor

Studio art senior Brian Morringiello, said photography allows him to manipulate the “weird.”

Morringiello’s photography is on display in the Hilton C Buley Library as part of the Studio Art Thesis Exhibition. His thesis provides his interpretations of 17th century style paintings and pairs them with the absurdity and dark humor of “Alice In Wonderland.”

There are some parallels in his photography between the large masks and characters of the famous tale like the Cheshire Cat.

Among the several art theses on display is also a wall of brightly colored squares, which matched the bright pink and blue ponytails of its artist’s Diana Cortavarria, a senior studio art major.

Cortavarria said her main for the project was to “transition painting and sculpture.”

The mixed media artwork centers around a motif called la chakana, a geometrical symbol rooted in the ancient culture of the Empire of Inca, a native tribe of South America.

The cross-like symbol is repeated in many of her bright small painted canvases and metal sculptures. Cortavarria said her inspiration for the project was heavily influenced by Peruvian and Pre-Columbian culture and ancestors.

She said she took these symbols and recontextualized them in intuitive forms and shapes. The journey of her art project, involved creating nearly 35 paintings and over 100 metal casting sculptures.

One of her pieces on display is specifically inspired by Pre-Columbian ancient forms of medicine. The piece is her interpretation of an oil press, which is fully functional and intended to be used for medicinal purposes. The oil press can be used to crush seeds like hemp seeds through a process of grinding through sand.

Cortavarria, who has been in the United States since she was 11, said through this project she has connected with her culture in a different way.

“Although I am fluent in Spanish, I lost that connection,” she said, which was revived through the project.

Cortavarria said some of her pieces and color palettes were inspired by people, like one of her red and silver square canvases inspired by another art student, Joseph Schairer, whose art thesis was also on display.

Schairer, whose focus is sculpture, said he loves to work with steel. His work consists of large abstract metal rectangular structures with red cushion like material emerging through the openings. Despite these striking contrasts in metals and soft fabric he said his inspiration is scattered.

“It’s easy to correct your mistakes,” he said, “you can just cut it out and try something new.”

Photo Credit: Melanie Espinal

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