McDaniel College senior Rachel Wojnar hopes the student honors exhibition “Pigments and Plastics” will be a “good conversation starter.”
“We’re addressing some very pressing issues and they’re things that need to be discussed,” said Wojnar, of Cumberland. “I hope it pushes people to a make a difference in their own lives, even if it’s something so simple as paying attention to the ways we interact with the world around us.”
“Pigments and Plastics” will feature a variety of work from senior art students Wojnar, Monique Staveley, of Sykesville, and Caitlin Eversmier, of Cockeysville. The exhibition runs Thursday, March 1 through Friday, March 30 in the Rice Gallery in Peterson Hall and is free and open to the public. An opening reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, with a gallery talk at 6 p.m.
Rice Gallery director Steven Pearson said the exhibition showcases how art students use their liberal arts knowledge to create works that have something to say.
“They aren’t just creating something beautiful, they’re creating something that’s compelling and relates to the world outside of the studio walls,” Pearson said.
“Each of the students engages in issues that are very relevant,” added Izabel Galliera, curator of the Rice Gallery. “It’s a reflection of the best students at McDaniel who are majoring in art.”
Staveley uses drawings separated with panels to tell a story. They are done in pen and ink and shaded to give the story more depth. The stories are about a college-age girl getting through menial tasks that turn into larger-than-life problems.
“Her work emerges from something personal but makes a broader commentary that viewers can relate to,” Galliera said.
Staveley said she was inspired by Scott McCloud’s book on understanding comics. She hopes to be published and find work as a concept artist for movies and video games after graduation.
Eversmier uses her prints and drawings to “highlight the issues of anthropogenic pollution, specifically plastics and their effects on both marine organisms and humans.” She said, “My hope is to highlight this everlasting damage in order to alter society’s social norms revolving around plastic.”
Said Pearson: “She’s found a way of making her interests converge. Her work is a nice blend of art and science.”
She is a certified scuba diver and underwater photographer and said she has seen beaches littered with plastic and a variety of marine organisms and their environments destroyed.
“I want my artwork to put in perspective that humans need to take responsibility for their actions,” Eversmier said. “Education will be the key to solving the problem.”
Eversmier will display a 13 foot by 13-foot installation made of single-use trash bags in the shape of Texas. She explained the work represents the Pacific garbage patch, which is two times the size of Texas. She plans to include a world map with the different ocean gyres with the installation so viewers can have all the information.
“I want to make it shocking so people will understand the consequences,” Eversmier said. “3,000 bags are used every quarter second. Sometimes just seeing charts can be overwhelming so being able to translate numbers into something more visual can appeal to a wider audience.”
Eversmier hopes to work for an environmental nonprofit as a graphic designer after graduation.
Wojnar explained that her work “revolves around the relationships between humanity and the natural world. In search of new perspectives and appreciation for nature, I explore alternative methods of art-making that may begin to reduce the harm we have done, and are doing, to the environment. Embracing impermanence, I create with biodegradable materials and abandon harsh chemicals and toxic pigments whenever possible. Building upon this, I explore innovative, yet simple solutions to environmental problems that so often seem hopeless.”
“Her body of work is rather complex and multi-layered,” Galliera said. “She’s very careful in her choice of materials to convey the relationship between humans and nature.”
In “450 years” Wojnar uses a video performance to emphasize how long plastics take to decompose. Another piece “Hope for Our Waters” is a floating sculpture of cultivated oyster mushrooms that filter toxins and pollutants out of the water.
“I’m a big collector of natural materials — bird nests, skeletons, logs with mushrooms, insects, seashells. They just exist in my space when I’m creating and they inspire me and get me working,” Wojnar said.
Wojnar plans to attend graduate school after graduation. She hopes to teach interdisciplinary studio art at a college level.