Sarah Gilstad presents senior art show ‘Me’

By Abigail Meredith, Assistant Arts Editor

Senior art major Sarah Gilstad displayed her best work for the eyes of the public Saturday, March 4.  Friends, family and faculty gathered to support her show.

Sarah Gilstad poses next to one of her paintings. / Laura Hickman, The Bison 

In response, Gilstad and Julie Blackstone, Assistant Professor of Art and Faculty Advisor for the Senior Practicum, offered insiders a look into what went on behind the scenes.

“It’s a challenge for an art major to design a senior show,” Blackstone said.

“It pushes a different aspect of their creativity. Some seniors choose to have a very specific theme, while others simply want to showcase their best work over their undergraduate career. They all have their own personality.”

Gilstad’s personality influenced everything from display to inspiration.

“The theme would be ‘Me,’” Gilstad said. “Looking at my work, I see it subconsciously has to do with experiences I’ve had in my life. Whatever I see is what’s going to inspire.”

She gave specific examples of her inspiration for her show.

“No matter what I see, I think of it artistically,” she said.

“A lot of times I’ll take photos and think ‘I really like this photo. I should paint it’. Or I’ll see stuff with color and picture it as a pointillism piece. My inspiration also has to do with stuff I like. I love watching baseball, and I think it’s a lot of fun, so I did a painting about that.”

Including her personal life in her art makes each piece unique.

Gilstad said she liked her friends and family are incorporated in the works themselves.

“It’s not just photos I took off the Internet or a rendition of some drawing from another artist,” she said. “I know these people. I’ve taken photos of them. I think it’s unique that I include my life, experiences, what I like, and what I’ve seen.”

Her personal investment in each piece resulted in remarkable quality.

“Sarah is a wonderful art student, multi-talented in a variety of mediums, as you can see from the items she chose to showcase,” Blackstone said.

Blackstone was impressed by many aspects of Gilstad’s work.

“Many of the pieces that stood out to me did so because I hadn’t seen her create them,” Blackstone said.

“I didn’t know she’d developed such skill in photography, and I was incredibly impressed with her ability. I thought her focal painting on growth was exceptionally well-composed with an interesting depth of field. Many people wouldn’t realize it, but it’s tricky to create that illusion in paint.”

The works themselves were not the only tricky part of preparing for the show.

“I spent a lot of time learning about how people perceive your work,” Gilstad said.

“It’s been a valuable learning experience. I also learned a lot about how to frame and matt work. Two of my biggest struggles were artist statement and theme.”

Experimentation helped Gilstad stay relaxed and creative.

“I feel like a big help to me was the reminder to keep it simple,” Gilstad said.

“People try to create a big show, but they don’t think about just trying your art arranged different ways to see what might work.”

Blackstone emphasized just how much time and thought went in to the show.

“Sarah has been preparing for quite some time,” Blackstone said.

“She’s been selecting her best pieces, designing the layout and feel of the show in an effort to express her creativity and style.  Of course she had to also think about details such as framing and display, not to mention what food to provide.”

Luckily, the night was a success, with beautiful pieces from many different mediums on display.

“I am thankful to have friends, family and teachers who have always encouraged me in my artistic endeavors,” Gilstad said.

“I would not have been able to complete any of the work displayed without their constant encouragement, support, and inspiration. I believe that my work shows my willingness to learn and to try different techniques, and reveals the constant desire I have to do my best and keep improving.”

Gilstad’s art will continue to be on display in the art building until the next art show. People are encouraged to stop by and admire all Sarah Gilstad’s hard work.

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