FEAR student art exhibition seeks validation in the things that terrify us


"The Insides," a digital collage by Jennifer Gillings, hangs in the FEAR art exhibition Feb. 6 in the Charles V. Park Library.

There are no surface level similarities among the pieces in the FEAR art exhibition; 14 artists were inevitably united while seeking validation in the things that terrify them. 

FEAR, a student exhibition located on the third floor exhibit area in the Charles V. Park Library, was assembled in three hours during the first week of the Spring 2019 semester. Lead curator Grace Smolinski aimed to gather pieces designed to unearth peace and acceptance through addressing troubling concepts. 

"We can all relate to finding and recognizing (our) fears, although it can be very hard to do so," Smolinski, a Rochester Hills junior, said. "It's not particularly about what (the artist) is afraid of, but just a fear they wanted to express and say, 'it's okay to have this fear' or 'this fear is rational (and) you're not crazy for being afraid of this.'" 

As the exhibit prepares for its conclusion on Feb. 12 and the variety of screen prints, digital photography, by-hand collages and digitally designed pieces prepare for their unavoidable removal, Smolinski said it is important to take advantage of all the professional opportunities available through CMU's resources. 

FEAR was the first-ever exhibition Smolinski's art has been showcased in and she said it offered an outlet for her to dip her toes into the professional world made available with a bachelor of fine arts degree. 

"Just the fact that it's on the wall is so cool," she said. "I feel like as a student and artist, it is very hard to find the places that will put your artwork up."

While Smolinski said a majority of the artists were members of Design Hub, a student-organized community for graphic design, and students enrolled in the department of art and design, all of their art's materials and framing was paid out-of-pocket by the individual creator. 

But for Traverse City senior Megan Moomey, there was an emotional cost to her screen print, "FUCK YOU." 

"It was pretty emotionally draining to work on every day as it was inspired by an ex that put me through a domestic abuse situation while struggling with drug addiction," Moomey said. "Everyday working on this brought up past memories that I have repressed for a long time. I used the offset red and blue to reference to the shifted perspective triggered by an altered state of mind." 

Moomey said she felt incredibly vulnerable while designing and eventually presenting the piece, especially since it was the first time she allowed her private emotions to surface in her artwork. 

Midland junior Jennifer Gillings created a self-protrait, digital collage for the exhibition. 

"It was not expensive to create in the physical sense. Emotionally it was a slight challenge. I have been through some heavy trauma in the past few years and have some mental challenges," Gillings said. 

Her piece was an opportunity to process the variety of emotions that affect her daily life. Gillings said it aims to represent an individual journeying through dark and heavy experiences and longing to attain a voice in a crowd of fears, anxieties and depression. 

"Underneath and inside everyone, we all carry our own baggage, traumas, fears and mental challenges," she said. "These pieces don't define us as we can be a work in progress, sorting it all out to overcome the situation." 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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