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Sunday, July 21, 2024

‘Figuratively Speaking’ kickstarts the Spring Senior Shows

Three senior undergraduate artists display years of work as the first installment of the Basement Gallery’s annual exhibit 


By SIERRA JIMENEZ — arts@theaggie.org


The Art Building’s Basement Gallery annual Senior Shows began on Friday, May 6 with the first of the five senior exhibitions, “Figuratively Speaking” including work from graduating seniors Layne Takahashi, Julia Walters and Charlotte Grenelle Krayenbuhl. 

Including a range of pieces from class assignments to personal work, the Senior Show allows graduating undergraduates to showcase their years of work for other Davis students to enjoy. 

“It just feels kind of like an accumulation of years worth of work and seeing kind of where I started and how it progressed and changed and morphed into something else,” said Julia Walters, a fourth-year design and art studio double major. “It’s also really cool to be sharing that space with Layne and also Charlotte because you get to see that for them as well.” 

A completely student-run space, student artists have the freedom to showcase anything and everything on campus grounds. Layne Takahashi, a fourth-year design and art studio double major, expressed her appreciation for the community-based environment the Basement Gallery grants and the significance of art in the student population in Davis. 

“It’s so centered around the art community within college students specifically. I think it brings out more people that are genuinely trying to see your work versus maybe if it were more of an academic setting,” Takahashi said. “It’s a very central part of Davis and to have the senior show, it just really ties everything back to the community that has helped us create what we’ve created in the past four years.” 

Walters also acknowledged the Davis art community that helped shape the artist she has become. 

“​​I think that [Davis is] such a community and art itself is such a community, and so it’s been really great having a smaller program at Davis that is small but mighty,” Walters said. 

Working closely with other graduating seniors, the artists are put into groups to create an exhibition curated by their own liking. Takahashi, Walters and Krayenbuhl decided on their show’s theme title “Figuratively Speaking” based on their interest and similarities in their pieces. 

“We chose ‘Figuratively Speaking’ because the phrase itself doesn’t necessarily mean for real,” Takahashi said. 

With pieces incorporating the human figure, abstractionism or other elements based off of some element of reality, “it circles back to the idea that it’s figuratively speaking, it’s not exactly what you think it is,” Takahashi said.  

Each provided with a full wall to display their pieces, this smaller Basement Gallery exhibit allows for the seniors to truly show off their art from all the years they have studied at Davis at large. 

“It’s much more intimate,” Takahashi said. “The basement gallery doesn’t filter out any [pieces], the artists decide what they put up.” 

From her favorite piece, “8:12 am,” a personal piece inspired by the first chapter of her favorite book “Top of Mason,” to various assignments for classes such as her piece, “The Ditch,” an experimental piece made of various materials, she incorporated a range of her pieces from her time in the design and art studio department and in her spare time at the exhibit. 

Fond of portraiture, Takahashi and Walters compliment each other with similar color palettes and interests in figure painting. They originally paired up for their senior show based on their artistic similarities and after hours spent working late nights in the studio together. 

“[Our pieces] have similarities, especially within the color palettes,” Walters said. “Seeing the work up and getting it all ready and it was really cool to see how harmonious and how they really complemented each other in terms of color.” 

Walters’ favorite piece of her friend at a gas station, “Caught a Vibe,” was the painting that made her realize how fun colors could be and encouraged her to be more bold with her color palette, she said. 

“I feel like this [was] the beginning of a new era of art for me,” Walters said.

Both Walters and Takahashi have their friends in most of their portraiture pieces, further influencing the theme of their exhibition. Krayenbuhl, also a fourth-year design and art studio double major, on the other hand, feels it is “me all over the place,” she said. 

From multimedia projects, such as her favorite piece “Finding the Minotaur” — a three-canvas piece with music based on the novel “House of Leaves” — to her silk screen print “Crow Woman,” she feels she is very much a “product of [her] education,” and the influences from her professors and mentors. 

Incorporating Native American influences into her work, Krayenbuhl adds her personal background of various California tribes — Achomawi, Atsugewi and Yana — but is clear that “I don’t want to make [my art] political. It’s just part of who I am,” she said. 

All three seniors root their art in various personal influences and all create individually unique pieces, and then come together in this space to build an irresistible show. 

“I feel really proud of this show. And I’m really proud of the work I am presenting and I’m really proud of my co-exhibitors as well,” Walters said. “I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did, putting it together and making the art.”

After an exhausting amount of work put into these pieces throughout their time in the programs at Davis, the artists produce one last hoorah before graduating and pursuing their futures as artists and designers. 

If you’re interested in seeing other Senior Shows, the exhibition will be showing “Displaced Amnesia” on Friday, May 13, “Obstructive Metaphors” on Friday, May 20 and “Fresh Stains” on Friday, May 27, all from 6 to 9 p.m.  


Written by: Sierra Jimenez — arts@theaggie.org



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