Walk into the basement of St. John’s Hall and the walls are filled with illustrations by students from the art department. Go to the gallery at Sun Yat Sen Hall and enjoy the portraits and photographs at the student gallery. While there seems to be ample space, there are concerns that the St. John’s community does not fully appreciate the work of their students. Two art students chosen to represent St. John’s by the College Art Association hope their achievement will change this.
The purpose of the CAA Regional BFA Exhibition is to showcase up and coming artists at the collegiate level. By getting the students connected to the New York art scene while they are still in school, the organization hopes to help these talented artists become further involved in the community. The black and white photographs of Katie Mias, a junior graphic design major and the videos and indoor photography of Allison Walters, a senior photography major were chosen to be on display at the CAA Regional BFA Exhibition.
The New York Center for Arts and Media Studies contacted seven schools including St. John’s and city art schools such as the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts for the exhibition. Mias and Walters, along with eight other students, were chosen from St. John’s.
From there, the CAA judges picked a variety of works from seventeen students around the city from the hundred artists competing for display at the exhibition, including Mias and Walters.
“People from my classes and my professors were very receptive to my work at the exhibit,” said Walters. “That’s really great because I was worried about it. It was a lot of work and I feel like I’m still making progress with my photography.”
Mias agrees that the reception from people at the exhibition, fellow artists and students is very nerve-wracking; especially because this is the first time her work has been showcased at an event in the city.
“It’s so weird to put on a show,” said Mias. “It’s odd to watch people looking at your piece. But I loved their thoughts and compliments.”
While the students were excited to exhibit their work, they were also proud to represent the St. John’s Art Department.
“I decided not to go to an art school because I love everything else like math, theology, and sports. I wasn’t looking for just art for my college curriculum,” said Mias. “St. John’s has an amazing Graphic Design program and they are definitely at the same level as some of the art schools in the area.”
Mias and Walters hope that after this exhibit the art department will gain more importance at the school and more students will have interest in their work.
“The department doesn’t have that much support but I want more people to know about the art department and I want the students to know more about our events,” said Mias. “We only have the basement and the attic of St. John’s hall to show our art. So many times our work is hidden.”
While Mias hopes that people will become more aware of the program, Walters believes that the art department should make changes in their curriculum in order to nourish an artistic mindset at an early stage.
“I think it would be better if students were more involved in the philosophical aspect of the arts before just jumping into making art for sale,” said Walters. “A lot of schools including St. John’s prepare students for work that is going to be sold. But I think students need to know what it means at a broader scale to produce images and art in general.”
Walters believes that the art department should change the structure of classes. Instead of focusing on the commercial aspect, they should teach students about the broader significance of art and allow students to question their philosophy on art. She believes the students should be questioning their reasons for creating art besides the materialistic aspect of the industry.
“Art is supposed to be about sharing an experience,” said Walters. “When someone looks at a piece of art, the artist sends a message to the person and it’s all about the transition of this message.”
The CAA Regional BFA Exhibition is located at 44 West 28th Street on the 7th floor. The students’ work will be on view until Friday, February 25th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.