Finishing the final touches on their pieces, three seniors prepare for their senior showcase at the Center for Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene. With various topics and artistic elements, these women have mentally prepared themselves for the professional exhibition of their work over the past four years.
Exemplifying the elegance found within the human body, Chancey Sanders, art major from Lufkin, said the exhibition of her work is meant to express the beauty found within the body. With paintings of bones, facial expressions and physical actions, Sanders said she is constantly looking for inspiration based off the people around her.
“I have always been so fascinated by the human body,” Sanders said. “I think it’s so beautiful. Ever since figure drawing here, just learning about proportions, and because I’m a people person and the stories that go with people makes me very fascinated about the body. Just by looking at people, I sometimes just stare because I just love facial features, and my art is kind of a way to study it, appreciate it and find the beauty in everybody in a very different way.”
Growing up around the artistic realm, Sanders said she enjoyed seeing her father being an architect and found herself having raw talent of her own. Moving forward with her life, Sanders began taking art and photography classes. Enjoying the moral understanding behind photography, Sanders said she suddenly felt the urge to paint one of her photos.
“One day, I really randomly told my mom ‘I want to paint one of the pictures,’” Sanders said. “And I really loved it. For my senior year of high school, I tried to get better at painting. I changed my major to painting, and it was something I really loved and wanted to have a more technique, style, and kind of get the formal class setting of it. It seemed like the right thing for me.”
With only a couple months until graduation, Sanders said it is important for her work to be hung in different places – to get exposed no matter what gallery or city.
“It’s something really cool to see your work on the walls of different places and get that exposure, get that appreciation,” Sanders said. “For me, putting my work out there is so intimidating and scary because I know that in the art world, there are a lot of things that are controversial, and not everybody likes the same things. I think it’s a constant fear for all artists that their work isn’t going to be liked or appreciated, but you never know until you do it.”
While Sanders is counting down the days until her big reveal, other students are still preparing their pieces and statements.
Hoping to find herself within her work, Anthia Nibizi, art major from Abilene, said her work is a representation of the struggles she endures as an African-American. Coming from a Burundian culture in the mix of the black community in the United States, Nibizi said she is still trying to figure out where she belongs – and she hopes to portray that in her work.
“Lots of my work is about the black community and how I fit into that and my perspective of that and also the African community and my perspective of that,” Nibizi said. “How at the same time, we celebrate different things but at the same time, we are sort of similar in how we treat ourselves, our image and kind of trying to find that in between. I never truly fit in one or the other.”
Looking back, Nibizi is pleased with how far she was come since her freshman year. Working closely with primitive art – known as the original style of African artists –and the common themes encircling around the black community, Nibizi is trying to use both to portray a message of hope, confusion and self-identity.
“The people who will be coming to my show are people who have known me from the beginning of when I started, and it’s a whole lot different,” Nibizi said. “I have grown so much and it’s important for people to understand what I’m trying to say. Just for them to understand just a little bit of what I’m trying to put out.”
Unlike most artists, Nibizi isn’t trying to persuade the viewer to consider a thought or topic. Rather, she wants people to see her within the painting – her confusion, frustration and trials.
“I just want them to see my progression in art,” Nibizi said. “Depending on the piece you’re looking at, you’re going to get a different meaning behind it, and I want you to put your own meaning on it. I want you to put yourself into the piece. I want you to say ‘OK. This is Anthia’s perspective, but this is how I see it and understand it.’ I don’t really care if you can’t understand what I’m trying to say. I just want to know if you can put yourself into the piece.”
While Nibizi still has time on her hands, other students are polishing their pieces before moving them into the gallery. Nicki DiCicco, art major from Franklin, Tennessee, said she hopes to bring action and awareness through her art work.
Following her topic of seeking help and guidance through sexual, domestic or verbal assault, DiCicco hopes her art will speak to those who suffer or have suffered from assault.
“I am dealing with subject matter such as domestic violence, rape and those kind of violences and hidden issues people don’t talk about. And I’m trying to bring those to light,” DiCicco said. “I was thinking of adding religious undertones to it, like there’s hope and those areas of battling between beauty and ugly. I was thinking about the idea of seeking approval and just all of that.”
Focusing on human hands as the primary indicator for her topic, DiCicco said each painting portrays a different set of internal issues people have everyday including depression, abuse or violence of any kind.
“I know people struggle with these things,” DiCicco said. “It’s not really treated, and I feel like people just tell them to just get over it. And I know people suffer from it and just everything happening in current events. And it just hits me. I don’t like it, and I feel like people need to hear about it, and it affects a lot of people.”
Contrary to Nibizi, DiCicco hopes to stir action among her viewers.
“I think these issues are important,” DiCicco said. “Maybe it’ll hit someone and make them act change within them. Whether they’re someone who’s suffering with it and make them say ‘Oh man, I need Jesus,’ or hit someone who hasn’t really thought about it and will do something about it.”
While each student brings her own talent, topics and subjects to the forefront of the gallery, these women are eager to stir up downtown with their ideas.
Sanders said she hopes the people viewing any work in the gallery will find an appreciation for humans. Whether it be finding some of the needed exposure for potential clients, finding one’s identity or finding the avenue for serious conversations, each student has brought their own version of what it means to be taken as a serious artist.