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U of M art seniors ‘owning their meanings’ for new campus show

“Stripping” away preconceived notions of societal norms will be the focus of “Still Strippin’,” a show featuring the work of four seniors in the University of Memphis Department of Art. It will run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 1. 

The free opening reception of the exhibition will take place in the Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art Nov. 17 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and will have a various art mediums including illustrations, paintings and photographs. Undergraduate seniors Amira Randolph, Kristin Smith, Sadie Tomes and Devin Picchi will present their work. The event will also have free snacks.

“People should come to this show and see what our seniors have worked on because creativity is not limited to just artists — it is a human trait that has been cultivated for literally thousands of years,” Richard Lou, art professor and chair of the Department of Art, said. “Art is a part of our common humanity and should be shared.”

The Department of Art has a show every semester for the graduating seniors. The seniors this year created a body of work that is “based on their own creative research, where they own their meanings,” according to Lou.

“The show is the culmination of their academic career here at the U of M,” Lou said. “The last year is spent exploring materials and concepts that they develop with a committee of their faculty that act as mentors.” 

Lou also said this show can help the students after they graduate by teaching them necessary skills they need to know for the professional work field.

“It gives them hands on and direct training on how to research their ideas, explore different creative and visual strategies, organize their ideas in a cogent form and present them to the public,” Lou said.

Kristin Smith, who will graduate with a degree in photography, said the art show was a great opportunity for her to have before she left U of M. She said it would look good on a résumé and provide her “great practice” before she graduates.

“It’s an amazing experience to be able to put our work in a gallery before we go off into the real world,” Smith said.

Each graduating student has his or her own personal project in the show. For Smith’s project, she asked strangers to send her their darkest secrets.

“I turned the strangers’ secrets into photographs,” Smith said. “I wanted to make a visual representation of this to remind people that everyone has something they find shameful about themselves, and no one is alone in their hardships.”

All four students have put in a year’s worth of work towards their projects in the show and are proud to show U of M and the surrounding community what they have done, Smith said.

“There isn’t really a central theme to our show, everyone is working on their own thing,” Smith said. “We each spend a long time working on these projects, and we are all so proud to finally get to share our work with the Memphis community.”

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