UNI Art Gallery features five students of the Bachelors of Fine Arts Program



Students can support and enjoy their peers artwork starting April 24, at 7 p.m. in the Kamerick Art Building.

ERIN MCRAE, Staff Writer

The UNI Gallery of Art is holding an exhibition for the spring 2023 Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program on Monday, April 24th, through Friday, May 5th. There will be an opening night reception that takes place on Monday, April 24th at 7 p.m. that will take place in the Kamerick Art Building (KAB) in the south lobby. This event is free and always open to the public. 

This exhibition will feature the work of five student artists: Jenna Lou Jansen, Jules Marie Hammerand, Madeline LeRoy, Summer Weed, and Taylor Lee Rachel Sullivan. Multiple topics are explored through different art forms, including mental health, self-worth, femininity, automatism, and more. 

Aaron Wilson is a printmaking professor in the art department who has been mentoring the students presenting their work. According to Wilson, the UNI art department gives students a chance to grow as artists beyond the classroom. “BFA students work closely with our faculty to develop a clear creative direction that culminates in this exhibition. Many of their upper-level studio classes allow for independent creative study guided with regular criticism. 

The degree also requires a Professional Practices course that helps to prepare the students for their careers after graduation. An art theory course, called Critical Issues in Contemporary Art, is also a requirement. Therefore, the range of interaction with faculty is broad,” Wilson said. “The faculty of the Department of Art enjoy the chance to work with students in-depth, beyond what the BA degree allows for. What I personally enjoy most about teaching BFA students is the chance to see their work evolve over the course of the program. The BFA Exhibition acts as a catalyst to grow their work, often beyond their own expectations.”

Student Jenna Jansen is a painter and performance artist whose work will be featured in the upcoming exhibition. For her, course offerings outside of her major and childhood memories helped shape her artistry. 

“I am also a psychology major, and I think that my psychology courses have deeply influenced some of my thought processes, especially my performance work. Concepts such as mindfulness, and the flow state are tools that I like to utilize when making art,” Jansen said. “At this stage in my life, looking back at past experiences is where I have found myself in terms of drawing inspiration. I spend a lot of time thinking about my upbringing as a young girl in rural northeast Iowa, and how it has integrated into my entire being.”

Jansen’s work will feature reflections on gender and body image. “I have painted most of my work from photographs of myself wearing a swimsuit at different stages in my life. The ways I have personally been trained to perform my gender, such as putting on make-up and wearing bikinis, is something that I have focused on while creating this body of work. There are also some video and sculptural works included in the show which follow this same theme,” Jansen said. 

Taylor Sullivan is a fellow BFA student and said her pieces will be full of color. Sullivan said viewers can expect to see, “A lot of pink. And an overwhelming sense of both child-like and grown-up femininity.”

Sullivan’s inspiration comes from her own life experiences. “Most of my current work that will be exhibited at the show is derived from my experience growing up as a girl born in Y2K. There is an inherent language and culture surrounding this decade that I really wanted to comment on. I was never a Barbie girl, I was a Bratz girl. As an only child, I am interested in leaning into the stereotypical only child identity that is spoiled, beautiful, and gets everything she wants,” Sullivan said. “Everything pink and glossy and glittery and cutesy is the vein I am aiming for.”

Sullivan also credits her success to the UNI art department. “My professors and classes at UNI have made me into the artist I am today. Looking back, coming into the art department I really didn’t even understand the depth art could hold or the space it could take up. I didn’t know what performance art was when I first got here. I am forever thankful to the faculty here for allowing my creative mind to expand,” Sullivan said. 

For more information, visit https://gallery.uni.edu/ or contact Laura Gleissner, director of the UNI Gallery of Art.