BFA exhibit helps Southeast seniors bridge gap between school, professional world

Friday, May 7, 2010
Rachel Roggow will display her wood art in Southeast Missouri State Univeristy's BFA Graduating Seniors Exhibition. (Fred Lynch)

Works from 14 graduating seniors in Southeast Missouri State University's bachelor of fine arts program are on display this month at the River Campus Art Gallery.

Gallery coordinator and department of art instructor Emily Booth said while the exhibition is the final step for students at the collegiate level, it is their first "real world" experience.

"This is the culmination of their studies. They have honed their skills for this. It is the grand finale, but also their first professional endeavor," Booth said. "They will be moving into the work force. This is that first step."

Because students featured in the exhibition have neared the end of their studies, Booth said the department expects much from them and their work.

"Generally all the work is at a professional level because they will be professionals very soon," she said. "We are exacting at this point. We expect it to be very good. Not only are we looking for strong studio skills, but we expect them to meet deadlines and become aware of what they are going to have to do professionally."

Works featured in this semester's exhibition include paintings, fibers, sculptures and graphic design pieces.

To prepare for the show, Booth said, each of the artists met with a BFA panel to present ideas for the works they wanted to feature in the exhibition. The three-member board then critiqued, advised and mentored the student throughout the creative process.

Booth said the exhibition and its planning process allow the seniors to gain valuable experience, but still have the security of the academic setting.

"It is a big deal. We hold them to deadlines and make them act professionally. It is good for them, though, because they still have the safety net of being at the university," she said.

One of the graduating seniors, Rachel Roggow, said that while the exhibition is key to her future, she looked to her past to find inspiration for her exhibit, "Relica."

"I created a lot of wooden furniture," Roggow said. "I replicated a lot of things that we've had in my family for years that we've carried around with us because I moved around a lot as a child. After I made all the pieces of furniture, I took fabric and wallpaper and other materials, and also I included found objects and covered some pieces and wrapped them. I kind of created these separate environments for these different rooms. I kind of have these mixed-up memories that are from my childhood."

Roggow said her work features sculpture with mixed media and that style is consistent with contemporary art. Because her work covers a large area and could not be arranged in the River Campus Art Gallery, her pieces are depicted in photographs in the gallery and are set up in the River View Room above Buckner Brewing Co.

Booth said when Roggow draws from her past, she creates multilayered works her audience can appreciate and understand.

"Through creating woodwork and covering it with fibers and everyday objects, her work takes on an almost dreamlike quality, which fits because memories aren't truth. The way she puts her art together is visceral but relatable. They are individual, educated and sophisticated. Those are hallmarks of Rachel and her works," Booth said.

Roggow said she has always wanted to be an artist and often uses her art to sort through her emotions and habits.

"Sometimes I think about something I enjoy doing, but don't know why I enjoy doing it. I work through that and eventually I will make a connection of why I like to do something," she said.

Roggow said she enjoys making connections through her art.

"I feel like sometimes I have a unique view of the world and this is kind of like me trying to sort through things and my view and show people my way," she said. "Sometimes people think that is really interesting. People will have a really good connection to something and tell me about it. That is the best part."

The BFA Graduating Seniors Exhibition will be at the River Campus Art Gallery until May 14. Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but the gallery will remain open until 7 p.m. today for First Friday.

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