Art and Design senior Julia Reid will be be part of an art showcase at Linnaea's Café called "Spaces in Question." Courtesy photo

Graduating art and design seniors Julia Reid, Karolin Ivarsson and Lana Dow will put on their senior art showcase at Linnaea’s Café Friday evening.

The show, entitled “Spaces in Question,” ties both physical and psychological spaces with human interaction. The event is held in association with Art After Dark, San Luis Obispo’s monthly downtown art event.

Although the art and design department can no longer fund senior projects for the studio art concentration, the women decided to do one anyway. In doing so, they happily dodged the mandatory paper accompanied with the project. Lana Dow said she feels they’re not missing out too much.

“That’s sort of what ended up this year — we were like, ‘Well, we don’t have to write a paper!’ And nothing else really changed for us,” Dow said.

Because they didn’t find out about the program cut until after they had taken preparatory senior project courses, they were still ready to put on a show. Reid said they had to show something for themselves as artists.

“Since our senior project got cut due to the budgets, we decided we still wanted to have our senior show because it’s kind of important for art. I mean, what else do we have to show other than our body of work? So we decided to try to make it happen,” she  said.

After planning their would-have-been senior project back in the spring and later starting their bodies of work in the fall, Reid contacted Marianne Orme, the owner of Linnaea’s, in September to apply and interview for a slot in the café’s monthly art showcase. Orme said she was excited to give the women an opportunity for their first show.

“Julia came in and spoke with me about doing a senior show here, which we’ve done before in the past. And these girls really wanted it,” Orme said. “I feel like our café is the place where somebody can have an introduction to showing their art.”

Yet, after securing the May spot, the students still had to invent a theme that tied all of their collections together. Dow said they had trouble coming up with a cohesive idea.

“‘Spaces in Question’ came after a long series of trying to figure out what our work had in common besides the fact that they’re paintings. So I guess we realized that all of our paintings had spaces in them, whether it was actual physical space or psychological space,” Dow said.

The showcase includes multiple pieces the women have individually created over the past school year. Orme said although they have different styles, their collection still has consistency.

“Karolin’s work has beautiful colors but is very subtle, where Julia’s is a little more dramatic — she’s got subtle and she’s got muted, where Lana’s work is a little bolder and a little brighter, but not enough to clash,” Orme said.

Although the women have been painting on their own, they have critiqued each other over the year. Reid said the constructive help has been a strong driving force.

“I think what really helps with the process is us working in the same studio together, because we’re constantly giving each other feedback as to what is successful in our paintings and what is not,” Reid said.

The students have also found support within the department. Associate professor Daniel Dove, who has worked with them for three years, has also been a mentor in their senior show preparation. Dove said this first public showing is a vital step in the artists’ career paths.

“In a positive sense, the pressure of the show makes one anticipate and also feel anxiety that can be very motivating. It’s also very important to have the actual experience of showing in public in order to get a sense of what the entire cycle of making art — the entire loop of it — means,” Dove said.

The group has already experienced a taste of the excitement — they hung the show themselves on Sunday evening. Reid said she felt a degree of anxiety when putting up her pieces.

“It felt really vulnerable for me to put something that’s so personal out there for everybody to see. But now that it’s done, it feels really good,” Reid said.

However, in the few days that the paintings have been on display, Orme said they’ve already received positive reviews.

“Everybody loves it so far,” Orme said. “People just really stop and look at it. It’s only been up two days and there’s already somebody asking about purchasing one of the pieces.”

Like Dove, Orme said the reception for the show will be an exciting and nerve-wracking challenge.

“I have found, for artists who have never shown before, that’s the hardest part, because you’re on show also. It’s the meet and greet, and people are there to look at your art and they’re there to talk to you and find out why you painted that,” Orme said.

Despite the nervousness, the women are excited to bridge the gap between academia and the real world. Ivarsson said the small size of the art department can be limiting if artists don’t reach out to the community.

“It can be quite a bubble in the art department,” Ivarsson said. “A lot of people don’t know about the studio department — it’s really small. I think we have like, 10 people in our year. So it kind of shows another side of the school that you might not know about.”

Other supporters in the studio art department are excited for these students to branch out. Studio art senior Clayton Beltran said he’s excited for the outside community to witness the group’s talent.

“The University Art Gallery does put on a lot of shows and it’s reaching out to the community more, but it is also nice to see students actually going out into the community as opposed to asking the community to come to campus. And I think that’s great that they’re doing that,” Beltran said.

As far as paths post-graduation, they’re unsure of how art will influence their lives. Although heading toward traveling and work in the non-profit sector, the women said they feel confident that art will hold an importance in whatever they do.

“I think everyone’s pretty loose in what will happen next,” Reid said. “I think that art will always be in our lives, in some form or another.”

The reception will be from 6-9 p.m. and is free. Hors d’oeuvres will be served, and wine will be available for those 21 and older.

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