Student Response Exhibition (SRE) Artist Features

By Sarah Snyder, Marketing and Communications Intern

Welcome to the SRE Spotlight, where we feature three artists and their works every week! These Miami students created art in conjunction with the 2022-2023 FOCUS theme of Tribal Sovereignty, which has been expanded to include land, identity and community. Their work is currently displayed in MUAM’s exhibition titled Interconnected: Land | Identity | Community (A Student Response).

Student art will be displayed in the Miami University Art Museum for the Fall 2022 semester (through Dec 10), culminating in a celebration of student creativity on Wed, Nov 9, 2022 at 5 PM during a celebration and awards ceremony. Artists showcased in the exhibition will be featured on the MUAM Instagram account and this blog every week, so stay tuned for spotlights on your favorite student artists in the coming weeks!

Week 8 :: Peyton Matik | Deanna Hay | Sammi Meyers

Peyton Matik is a junior studying Psychology and Art Therapy with a minor in Theater. She uses her personal identity to create art that speaks to her experiences and relationship to the world around her. “Nice to Meet You” is a black-and-white photograph detailing an altered photograph of Matik from her childhood.

The scissors, thread, safety pins, and more express how individuals carefully curate themselves to appeal to the world around them. Matik expands upon the idea, saying “We carve out the pieces of ourselves that allow us to fit in with the majority, and leave the parts of ourselves that don’t fit on the cutting room floor.”

Matik’s other work of art, “You and Your People” explores a portion of that identity, focusing on her Jewish heritage, generational trauma, and experience as a Jew in America. “But more than that,” says Matik, “it shows the longing for things to change.”

Deanna Hay chose to make the most of her time at Miami with majors in International Studies and Media and Culture, and minors in Studio Art and French.

Her video-based art titled “Gratitude” expresses deep emotion with a focus on memories. These memories, tied to objects, become even more meaningful as one experiences loss.

Hay explains, “The way in which we hold our experiences affects our growth and determines how we identify ourselves for the future. I aim to capture the impact left upon me not only by my aunt, but by my experience with her passing.”

Sammi Meyers, a sophomore majoring in Communication Design and minoring in Emerging Technology in Business and Design, uses unconventional materials to create meaning in her artwork.

“Palatable” is built from cut and painted paper plates, suggesting a relationship between nature and the food it creates for us. The rich, bold colors and detailed expression of natural food create a sense of wonder and vibrancy.

Meyers, who has a love for outdoor adventures, explains that “naturally grown food is a wonder produced by our land that can be utilized in many ways.”

Week 7 :: Kenneth DeCrosta | Malik Wilkins | Caitlin Curran

Kenneth DeCrosta, a freshman at Miami majoring in political science, focuses his art on documentary photography and photojournalism. His artwork chosen for Interconnected: Land | Identity | Community came about from one such reporting opportunity.

Kenneth first discovered the subjects of his photograph Honey Comb while on assignment for The Miami Student newspaper. Tasked with taking photos of the Miami University Apiculture Society, he joined them on a routine bee hive inspection.

“I was drawn to this scene by the lighting which illuminated the honeycomb, [then] quickly fell off into shadow,” said DeCrosta. His interest in the hives led him to join the Apiculture Society, a part of Miami that he has become very grateful for.

As a senior with a major in Studio Art and concentration in Painting, Malik Wilkins has found a love for abstract painting and the opportunities it holds. Openhanded represents many things to Wilkins, but centers itself upon his compassion and willingness.

The concept of the painting comes from a computer animation created by Wilkins himself, and his goal was to recreate the digital, grainy look that the animation held. The open hand symbolizes two separate concepts, the first being his empathetic ability to offer aid and support to others.

The second half of the symbol comes from Wilkins’ religion as a Christian, where the saying of living with “open hands” is perpetuated. Wilkins expands upon it, saying “this also represents me being ready to give and receive blessings.”

Caitlin Curran is a freshman studying Communication Design with minors in Art and Art History. She often gravitates toward nature for artistic inspiration as a creative outlet, and her artwork titled Outside, In is no different.

The painting was based on two photos taken by Curran: one at Zion National Park, and another in an abandoned building. She uses both to bring to light the issue of the “destruction and degradation of nature,” where natural beauty is forced to give way to “new pristine houses rising upon toiled soil and strips of concrete.”

Her painting reverses the roles, allowing nature to overtake the industrialized civilization that the world has become accustomed to. Curran explains that Outside, In explores “an untouched landscape from Zion National Park [sprawling] across the background, while an array of abandoned and decrepit furniture resides in the foreground.”

Week 6 :: Cassady Edwards | Lela Troyer | Macey Chamberlin

Cassady Edwards, a Miami senior majoring in Art Education and Sculpture, submitted Ol’ Iron Eyes to the Student Response Exhibition.

Ol’ Iron Eyes hangs down upon the art museum’s floor in a stunning display of detail, color, and intrigue. The industrial-style sculpture uses large eyes and a cloud to explore identity and separation.

Edwards explains that the industrial materials represent “the fragmented identity of biological [versus] adopted family,” and the cloud represents the “omnipotence and ever-presence of those who sculpt your identity from separated or remote circumstances.”

Senior Lela Troyer, majoring in Communication Design with a minor in Japanese, created Pride, a response to changing and balancing identity. The subject of the painting, a sandhill crane, symbolizes the Myaamia people and culture.

Troyer describes struggling to accept her identity in Myaamia because of how it contradicts a preexisting identity she made for herself.

“Fully embracing oneself as both an individual and a community member can feel like a confinement to the expectations of others,” says Troyer, “but one important truth in life is that you are always you no matter how much nuance there is to that definition.”

Macey Chamberlin is a sophomore at Miami majoring in Communication Design and minoring in Fashion. Her print In Knots depicts a woman whose very self is keeping her tied up in her own thoughts.

The Intaglio print process used to create the piece was Chamberlin’s first experience with it, but she finds that the experimental and surreal nature makes the piece even more communicative.

As the subject considers its own identity, it gets caught up in the chaos. Chamberlin says, “I wanted to show the feeling of overthinking one’s own identity, questioning who you really are, what you really stand for, and how others perceive you.”

Week 5 :: Megan Sekulich | Eva Fox | Zoë Neubig

Megan Sekulich, a senior majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Fashion Design, submitted two artworks for the MUAM student response exhibition.

Cycle, Land Connection explores the relationship between humanity and the environment. “This piece,” Sekulich says, “represents the symbiotic relationship we have with nature.” As a Myaamia artist, Sekulich seeks to address her identity in conjunction with other themes. “We respect our environment and it provides for us, creating a cycle of interaction,” explains Sekulich.

Sekulich’s second artwork, Individual Right To Interpretation, illustrates to the viewer a “Myaamia experience that the viewer can understand in whatever way makes most sense to them.”

Sophomore Eva Fox is majoring in Studio Art with a minor in Art & Architecture History at Miami. Her artworks Sitting With Change and Floating show how her identity as a lesbian and genderqueer Myaamia student change, grow, and define her.

Sitting With Change depicts how Fox’s identity has shifted over the course of last year. “I have many facets to who I am,” says Fox, “[and] I often sit in solitude to spend time with myself, to know me better as I change and grow.”

Her second artwork, Floating, seen here, explores how that identity has sometimes left her “at the whim of change.”

Zoë Neubig is a senior majoring in Studio Art and Art Therapy with a minor in Art History at Miami. Although her concentrations are in painting and sculpture, she often uses a multitude of mediums to create her art.

Her detailed sculpture titled Something Rotten, seen here, embodies how the human body changes in response to trauma. “After physical boundaries are violated, one’s perceptual relationship to their body may become strange and unfamiliar,” explains Neubig. This change occurs both physically and psychologically over the course of time. The subject struggles to stand up tall, and her body decays and gives way to fungi.

“This piece,” says Neubig, “seeks to represent this alienation between body and mind as one of many psychosomatic effects of trauma.”

Week 4 :: Harris Martinson | Lauren Butts | Kayla Becker

Harris Martinson, a graduate student studying Painting at Miami University, created a large and detailed painting titled The Call. Part of a larger project, The Call seeks to work against alienation and toward reconciliation.

Martinson explains that the child in the painting is “caught with an awareness, a charge, that manifests as a moment of tension between the world she inhabits and our own world.” The subject is uncertain of her path, yet present in her surroundings. The painting and its larger project “emerges from a personal task of reconciliation between the artist and the world.”

Sophomore Lauren Butts, who is majoring in Art Education with an Outdoor Leadership Certificate, submitted Ignite, a photograph of a sculpture on fire in nature. The photograph seeks to highlight the importance of preserving and protecting nature.

“The land I inhabit means much to me,” says Butts. “The National Parks need protection, [and] this piece explains how they are more prone to wildfires due to global warming and reckless recreation.” Her passion for hiking and Leave No Trace principles give her a unique perspective on environmental protection, shown in the photograph’s theme. She explains the play-on-words, saying “Let’s ignite a passion inside ourselves to stop the ignition of the natural world.”

Kayla Becker, Miami student and mother of five, is studying Computer Science and bringing her Native American heritage to her artwork at MUAM. Her two pieces of art, Who We Were Is Who We Are and niila myaamia – I Am Miami, explore her relationship to her identity.

Her first artwork, Who We Were Is Who We Are, represents the sorrow of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, which Becker is a member of. The black silhouette and background highlight the tears, which are cut from photos of the Wabash River. The river was a large part of the tribe’s lifeline and identity. “I’ve seen some of the suffering that resulted from forced removals,” says Becker. “The tears show that we still exist, and those original lands are still part of who we are today.”

niila myaamia – I Am Miami, which is Becker’s second artwork, is a spear dance stick threaded with over 11,000 beads that were placed one at a time. Geometric shapes, swirls of fire, and flowers decorate the stick, which is replete with symbolism. Becker explains, “It is the connection between my ancestors’ passion and my own… I continue my journey to find myself, armed with this spear that represents where I came from.”

Week 3 :: Mary Visco | Molly Ensor | Sofia Milosevic

Mary Visco is a Miami junior studying Studio Art with minors in Museums and Society, Art Management, and Art History. Her painting titled Down to the Edge, full of rich whorls of color, explores her relationship with land and identity.

She explains that her journey of understanding the land she inhabits has affected how she views her own presence in it. “My relationship to nature and its great expanse has changed constantly throughout my life, but this notion has remained the same,” says Visco. “I have only begun to make sense of my relation to it.”

Molly Ensor, a Miami junior, is studying Art Education with a minor in Studio Art. She works mainly with metal and ceramics, and her artwork titled Pinky Promise takes the shape of a bronze ring.

“A pinky promise, or pinky swear, may seem childish, but that’s what’s so great about it,” Ensor states. Children, she says, are genuine and honest, and the pain of a broken promise does not hurt as deep. The ring itself is representative of a promise made, and the two nickel loops refer to the two people involved in the commitment made.

The ring itself was a long-term work of love, one that required the usage of the lost wax method. Ensor and her professor worked diligently, “hand carving a block of wax, supporting the form with sprues, encasing it in plaster, burning it out in the kiln, then infusing the mold with molten metal.”

Sofia Milosevic’s artwork, titled The Lake explores her memories of childhood and family. The Miami senior is studying Psychology and English Literature, with a minor in Art Therapy, and attributes much of her inspiration to her hometown in Belgrade, Serbia. The lake in question, named Tresnja Lake, or “Cherry Lake” in English, holds many of Milosevic’s fondest childhood memories.

“Ultimately, I remember Tresnja as one of those sites that allows you to bond with your family and friends as a kid, while also allowing you to bond with the vibrant environment around you,” states Milosevic. “From my interaction with the nature here, I’ve learned a sincere respect and appreciation for our human and non-human life alike, and the need to protect our land.”

Week 2 :: Hannah Litt | Reilly Powers | Olivia De Leon

This week’s SRE Spotlight artists are Hannah Litt, Reilly Powers, and Olivia De Leon! Read below to learn more about these Miami students and their art, and make sure to visit MUAM and vote for your three favorite artworks.

Hannah Litt, a Miami sophomore with a major in Art Education and a minor in Art History, created Held In Her for the exhibition. The sculpture, shown to the right, depicts a bronze woman held by a plaster hand. Litt explains that “feminine natural beauty is looked down on, yet so valued in masculine sectors as something to be held.” The sculpture reflects Hannah’s identity as a Jewish woman, where she has learned “the power to be herself unapologetically, and yet be ready for shame and restriction from society.”

Reilly Powers is a freshman studying Art Education and Studio Arts at Miami, and her two art works titled Continued Growth and Reflection in the Mirror are currently displayed at the museum.

The former, shown in the left of the photo, represents “the importance of the land that once was a part of Freedom Summer,” the 1964 voter registration drive where hundreds of activists trained on Miami grounds to increase voter registration in Mississippi. “The three limbs of the tree represent James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner,” three activists who were murdered in Mississippi while registering black voters. Powers seeks to honor their memory and sacrifices with her artwork.

Powers’ second artwork, Reflection in the Mirror, expresses her struggle with self-identity. She states that “what each person sees in their mirror is completely unique – our identities are formed from our experiences in life.” Both artworks are on display at the Student Response Exhibition this fall.

The third SRE Spotlight Artist, Olivia De Leon, is a junior at Miami with a major in Studio Art and a minor in Museums and Society. Her painting, shown to the right, titled Where Do I Stand? focuses on her experiences with change and identity. In 2019, De Leon moved with her family to Mexico, where she found a new confidence and independence. “I have learned to face my fears, reflect on the state of my mental health, and what the value of curiosity is.”

Week 1 :: Ishita Islam | Marfo Glover | Libby Slauenwhite

Ishita Islam, Marfo Glover, and Libby Slauenwhite have been selected for this week’s MUAM Student Response Exhibition Spotlight! These students, along with many of their peers, submitted art in conjunction with this year’s FOCUS theme of Tribal Sovereignty, and their artwork will be displayed for the entire semester at the museum.

Ishita Islam, a graduate student pursuing a Studio Art major at Miami University, submitted two displayed artworks, titled Quest for Identity and From land to land. The former is the painting shown below, which represents emotions of migration, safety, and change.

Islam states that “every ordinary person has to go through diverse experiences, feelings and situations in their lives. We try to connect our different versions of ourselves with a linear balance to make it sound and settle our identity.” She used her experience with migration from Bangladesh to America to highlight the “togetherness of individual parts of… identity” through changes and challenges in Quest for Identity.

Her second artwork, titled From land to land, uses found objects as the background for poetry, which also highlights humanity, identity, and dealing with change.

Marfo Glover is another graduate student at Miami, where he studies Jewelry and Metals Design with a minor in 3D Modeling. His artwork titled Defensive Mechanism is sculptural jewelry meant to evoke “protective sentiments, remain elegant, and convey a sense of both power to wearer and viewer,” as Glover describes it.

The piece of art is meant to sit on the wearer’s neck with the intention of both beauty and defense. Glover drew from his experience as a young Ghanian artist and borrowed from “both African traditional and contemporary aesthetic languages while entertaining cross-cultural influences of [his] lived experience.”

The last student of this week’s spotlight, Libby Slauenwhite, is studying Studio Art as a graduate student at Miami, and her two pieces Sticks and Stones and Garden Kaleidoscope are currently displayed at the museum. The former is a plaster sculpture depicting the torso of a victim of external trauma who is covered in armor of “sticks and stones.” The sculpture represents “the tarnishing of… female purity and innocence,” but also how women “wear the critiques of… womanhood as armor against the societal attacks on… identity.”

Slauenwhite’s second artwork, titled Garden Kaleidoscope, embodies her experience as a child in an Air Force family, specifically the chaos of changing circumstances, childhood nostalgia, and finding identity within new environments. The print “references the kaleidoscope, a prominent toy from [her] childhood,” along with the “passing of time and our inability to stop or slow it.”