When student Haley Sieglein ’17 began the semester, she knew exactly what her year-long St. Mary’s Project would be.
But after the ART SMP Marathon, the first portion of the SMP where students were asked to complete 20 works in 20 days, “My mind changed completely,” she said.
The assignment tasked students to push themselves outside their boundaries, try new ideas and spend less time thinking about creating pieces and more time working on them.
Creating 20 works in 20 days “is not something I think I’ve ever done,” said senior Grace Humphries while discussing her works, displayed along with works from the other eight students, Sept. 21, at the Art Annex/100 Main Building.
The open studios culminated the 20-day assignment.
Humphries said the marathon helped her think quickly about her work and see ideas at a faster rate. She said the assignment was challenging as typically she takes a lot of time to work on one project. The marathon helped her not focus too much on the details.
Senior Benjamin Derlan said the project helped him pace himself and make art more of a daily practice.
Students were encouraged to jump outside their comfort zones and use different mediums as they worked through the marathon with a variety of prompts, such as creating something that incorporates a found object or creating a portrait of a friend or stranger. Some prompts challenged students to only work on a piece during commercial breaks of a television program or create three ideas and have a stranger select the idea they would turn into one of their works.
Sieglein said the marathon helped her realize, “I’m not just a photographer. I’m more than that.”
She said the marathon caused her to want to explore mixed media more when it comes to her SMP.
Senior Stephanie Sraha themed several of her works around the prompt of what one fears most they will hear about their work. Sraha said she fears people won’t take her art seriously but view it as an arts and crafts project.
She said the marathon gave her more confidence in her work.
For student Ivy Rose Smith, the marathon, “taught me to push beyond what I was normally comfortable with.”
Smith went back to basics with her art, working with pen and ink, something she hadn’t worked in a long time.
Doing so allowed her to step back and take time to understand the fundamentals. Stepping away from acrylics and working more with black and white, “allowed me to see more color,” she said.
When Smith stepped back into her comfort zone using acrylics, she said she was using colors in a different way and created a portrait of Sraha that she considers one of her best.
At the open studio, surveying the energy and enthusiasm of the students, ART SMP mentor and art professor Sue Johnson commented,
“The goal of the marathon is to challenge students to break assumptions, try out new ideas, be experimental without worrying about making ‘mistakes’ and ultimately to learn first-hand what really sparks creativity. As well-known sculptor Richard Serra famously said, ‘work comes out of work.’”