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Emerge, the Furman University Art Department’s senior exhibition, is more than forcing art majors to prove they can paint a picture before graduating.

“Art has always been about ideas, so we try to have our students consider that as part of their art-making process,” associate professor and faculty advisor Michael Brodeur says. “It’s not just about something that’s visually pleasing that you hang on the wall. It’s something that invites the viewer to think about deeper issues that make connection to the larger world, which is really the basis of the liberal arts education.”

With that in mind, this year’s Emerge exhibit – which will be on display in Roe Art Building’s Littlejohn Lecture Room through Saturday, May 10 – featured “work derived from some form of personal experience.” Jenny Cook, Allison Elliot, Brittany Harden, Brigid Morrissey, Elise Wilson and Hilary Wilson used everything from drawing to painting to photography to yarn to items purchased at a second-hand store to create work they presented at an opening reception on April 11.

“This is sort of their exit statement,” Brodeur said. “It does incorporate the concept of liberal arts in that it’s not just about the skill of making work but rather the ideas that come with it.”



Jenny Cook

Medium: Graphic design and yarn

Artist’s statement: “(The work’s) purpose is to represent a personal understanding of anxiety, to illustrate my journey of discovering it, and how I’ve come to rise above it in finding peace. … Before I began I wrote reflections on specific, defining experiences I’ve had with anxiety. I realized that a common phrase I used was ‘I feel like I’m unraveling.’ … It is my hope that this visual journey will encourage others to talk about mental illness. … In pursuing my own experience and producing it visually, I hope that others will be vulnerable as well, finding their own peace. In some ways, this project itself is a creative expression that has allowed me to come into greater understanding of my anxiety – to not run from it – but, rather, become closer to it through unhindered innovation. This has allowed such acceptance and release.”



Allison Elliott

Medium: Oil on canvas with synthetic floral elements

Artist’s statement: “My self-portrait is steeped in nostalgia. Over the course of my entire life I have been drawn to the way that people look. … Similarly, the infinite varieties in vegetation are a great source of inspiration for me. I spent a lot of my childhood in secret places between the leaves of a great magnolia tree and beneath the azalea bushes in my mother’s garden. … It is difficult to combine mediums in a way that unites the flow of a piece. However, I wanted to incorporated three-dimensional elements in the hope that I might trigger something in the viewer that would otherwise remain undisturbed. I used traditional oil paints for the portrait and made a sort of ‘frame’ by fastening the canvas to cardboard and arranging different types of leaves around it. …It is the combination that creates the end result, and I hope it is a pleasing experience.”


“The Magician’s Nephew: Bringing the Story to Life”

Brittany Harden

Medium: Pencil on sketchbook paper with Photoshop

Artist’s statement: “I chose to represent four key characters and scenes from C.S. Lewis’ children’s book, The Magician’s Nephew, through a series of digital illustrations. Because I have an interest in both concept art and illustration, I focused not only on the aesthetics of the images but also on their designs. … It was just as important for me to make sure that my designs stayed true to the characters and scenes inside C.S. Lewis’ detail-rich text as it was for them to stand on their own as strong illustrations. … As a result of this project I feel I have developed a greater understanding of digital painting through refining my technique as well as a greater appreciation for the importance of artistic and historical research when creating accurate designs.”



Brigid Morrissey

Medium: Digital painting on plexiglass

Artist’s statement: “I am a member of the women’s basketball team at Furman, and one of the greatest outcomes from my being around the same people every day is that it is impossible to hide – they see me at my best, and they see me at my worst. But at least they see me. … This project is about relationships, and how people view each other. One experience with someone of a particular race, gender, age group, etc., often determines how we view the group as a whole. In using portraits of my athlete-friends, I am aiming to break down those barriers. … I am using a new art technique, utilizing a computer program to create a ‘painting.’ … Working with portraits can only get so personal. … Illustrating this way allows me to both add my own style and show others how I view my teammates. … This project has made me think twice about judging someone too quickly – or at least made me look at more than just his or her Facebook page.”



Elise Wilson

Medium: Mixed media

Artist’s statement: “In early December of 2013, a friend quietly disclosed that he had started cutting himself. … His sanctuary had taken on the unlikely shape of a small bathroom, but the idea that one might perform a physical act to gain mental control over a situation seemed universal. … To interact with this exhibit, the viewer is made to deal with the subject matter alone, as isolation seems fundamental to the ritual self-harmers undertake. The exhibit is set up to mirror my friend’s sanctuary, the bathroom, but is reminiscent also of a religious altar. Atop the sink-altar at one end of the enclosure sits an arm made of canvas and straws, to mirror skin and blood vessels, which I have invited the viewer to cut through. … Regardless of whether or not the viewer chooses to partake in my friend’s ritual of cutting, he or she is still forced to deal with its existence through the imagery, the faint smell of blood created by the oxidized iron, and the isolation.”



Hillary Claire Wilson

Medium: Mixed media (oil-based enamel, glaze, wood, cotton cloth) and pigment prints on Epsom premium luster paper

Artist’s statement: “I am drawn to work that has purpose and functionality and enjoy bringing art back into daily life. The body of work explores space, beauty, communication and individuality. It was inspired by the experience of moving away from family and friends and into by own single-bedroom apartment. … I felt challenged to repurpose these objects in order to resurrect some kind of beauty that the previous owners felt was no longer present. I also wanted to add my own signature to these objects. … I informally document my restoration process via iPhone or camera on my blog,”

Last updated August 5, 2022
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