Art students sometimes get a bad rap within institutions and wider society but we’re not all dreamers and poets over at here: most of us are grappling with the same issues that some of the more ‘traditional’ degrees are albeit in a less static way.  We are the thinkers, makers and doers of this world and for us to succeed in our various goals after graduation we need to form and inform dialogues.  So, come to our exhibition.  There will be food and booze so that’s a thing.  But also there will be art, and not just stuff to look at but art that tries to make you think about the world in new and interesting ways.

We decided to interview our 3rd year lecturer, Sarah Douglas to get some insight into what you can expect at the Fine Art Major graduate exhibition.

Molly Werner: Can you briefly outline what it is the students have been up to for the past year in the lead up to their graduating show?

Sarah Douglas: The students have been challenged to evolve a critically engaged creative research project.  This requires a deeply reflective approach to examining their place within a highly complex and ever-changing world.  They are required to explore the critical contexts in which we are immersed and develop artworks that articulate an idea, observation, feeling or concept in the best possible way to engage others.  They learn to find a critical creative language to express themselves within the multiplicity of contemporary life.

Samuel Beilby: A popular conception of contemporary art is that it is reflective of contemporaneity and is therefore in a constant state of “becoming”. From your perspective, are there any notable recurring themes or tropes that in the works of the FAM18 exhibition that focus on social, political or cultural issues of today and how do they differ from the work of previous FAM exhibitions?

SD: There are definitely, I wouldn’t call them themes, but there are certain focuses that I’ve noticed in student’s work this year. For example, some students have reflected on their own experience in the context of more global concerns asking the question: what does it mean to be a stranger in a strange land? A group of the students have described their works as dealing with ‘floating identities,’ there is a reflection on the nature of migration across the globe and the consciousness of these mobile populations.

Another focus is on fostering a deeper understanding of the fragility of things – there is some consciousness of New Materialism where students are evolving renewed material relationships with a heightened awareness of a nonhuman order and the impact of our consumptive legacies.

There are also some text-based works that re-contextualise traditional methods within contemporary dialogical platforms to engage us in intimate textual exchanges.

I think what’s refreshing in this group is the enormous diversity of methods, ways of making, materials and the unexpected elements in the work. These elements are not necessarily driven from the institution but by the student’s guided research that evolves a growing awareness and expression of their concerns and observations that are extended out into the world.

SB: What do you think that the artists of the FAM18 exhibition have demonstrated through their works?

SD: What is working exceptionally well with this group of students is that they are able to work with the important symbiosis between material making and complex ideas.  Both within and outside of the school today’s artists need to adapt to the constantly changing multiplicity of being in a contemporary world. Importantly, art schools need also to adapt to the diversity of current cultural practices. The artist’s role is to understand and mediate the world in its broadest sense and as an art school we need to support this development, this is incredibly important.

MW: Is there anything else that you would like to say?

SD: I guess the thing that I would say is that it is important for people to engage in art. It is a language that crosses so many borders. Taking time to engage in, have fun with, and reflect on artworks has the potential to enrich all our lives. The challenge is broadening our audiences and these artworks are about sharing our experiences of coexisting in a wonder-filled world.

Molly Werner & Samuel Beilby

Sarah Douglas is the Unit Coordinator of VISA3051 at the School of Design.

Molly Werner and Samuel Beilby are both finishing their undergraduate degrees majoring in Fine Arts – their works will be on display at the exhibition.

Opening Night 6pm Friday November 9th at Cullity Gallery, School of Design, UWA.

Exhibition continues to November 14th

Gallery open 9AM-5PM Monday-Friday

By Pelican Magazine

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