Mazmanian Gallery begins annual senior capstone showings
By Ryan O'Connell
Arts & Features Editor
The Mazmanian Gallery held the first of three senior capstone receptions April 11, showcasing the semester-long collections of four art majors under the title “Immersive (Im)maturity.”
Alphonse Smith, a studio art major with a concentration in illustration, contributed character reference sheets, digital illustration, a painting, and even a voiced animatic to the show - some of it part of a collaboration with another artist in exhibit.
Smith said “Pangolin Punch” was a joint project with Lee Seaman, a friend and fellow artist, and an opportunity for the two to finally work together on a project.
He said they both quickly decided on designing a cereal brand since it would play into both their strengths, with Smith focusing on illustration and character design while Seaman handled the graphic design aspects of the box and brand.
Smith said his inspiration for the pangolin’s - a scaled mammal, similar in appearance to an armadillo - design came from other cereals and mascots like Lucky Charms and the Trix rabbit. He added he also drew inspiration from comics due to the martial arts focus of the brand.
“I know I wanted to start with the idea of fruit punch. … I wanted maybe to just have like the first letters of the name of the cereal match,” he said. Smith added he avoided obvious choices, like penguin, in order to give the project its own unique quality.
Smith said working on a project with another person was a new experience, but not an uncomfortable one.
“It also felt familiar, because I worked with someone who I kind of just bounce my ideas off of all the time - because we’re roommates,” he said. “So essentially we just sort of collaborate our ideas all the time, but this is our first time making it into physical form.”
Smith said the most difficult part of creating an animatic was relying on voice actors - some being children, and one being his 5-year-old sister - which led to scheduling difficulties.
He added while the animation itself isn’t usually difficult, this time he tried to match the frames to an audio recording, the inverse of his normal method.
Smith said he likes to create because he gets to see his visions come to life.
“I have hyperphantasia, which is essentially - some people imagine things and they barely see anything. I imagine things and I see more than is actually there,” he said.
Smith said he’s never been in an art showcase before, and the feeling is exhilarating. He added he feels a little bit of imposter syndrome seeing other artists, but that he is a senior and should feel accomplished with what he and Seaman made.
Smith said his favorite part of the project is the ending of the animation.
“The part where he’s running into the woods and he’s just sort of trying to run away. And I tried different things that maybe I could do, like a sort of cartwheel roll thing, but I was like, ‘Mm, it looks a little off,’” he said.
Smith added, “So I was like, ‘What if he’s just Sonic the Hedgehog?’ That was just so fun to draw.”
Cheyenne Morgan, a studio art major with a concentration in painting, had six paintings in the showing, most related to physical and emotional trauma she suffered.
Morgan said her project “Dakota,” which includes all six of her submissions in the exhibit, explores the subconscious mind through expressive and figurative paintings.
She said the project started with “What’s the point? Is there a point? Where’s the point?” which was an exploration of her style and a comparison and contrast of good and bad perspectives. She added she “just wanted to make something creepy and pretty.”
Morgan said the project was inspired by emotions, trauma, and one of her favorite artists, Alana Lindsay.
“There is one piece called ‘Burning Flesh.’ It’s at the top right, and that one was like a physical trauma that I had to go through,” she said.
“Somebody threw gasoline on a fire and my foot caught on fire for a good 10 seconds. I got a couple third-degree burns, so it was a lot to go through,” she added.
Morgan said painting helps her calm down, but it isn’t necessarily relaxing. She said when she paints feeling overly emotional, those are sometimes “really ugly paintings,” but even those she likes to paint over again and improve on.
She said she didn’t have a goal with “Dakota,” and she likes to paint because there’s a sense of intimacy and therapy that comes with it - but also a struggle. She added since she has ADHD, sometimes it’s difficult to maintain interest in a project and other times it’s done quickly.
Morgan said she’s been in shows before in elementary and high school, and still likes to see her work displayed. She added after graduating she wants to focus on her business making and selling art, as well as branching into other mediums like photography.
Lee Seaman, a studio art major with a concentration in graphic design, had a range of work in the gallery including their portion of the collaboration with Smith and two graphic design commissions done for Framingham State University and Communication Arts Professor Audrey Kali.
Seaman said the project with Smith was fun for them since they weren’t working off of existing designs, which is typical for graphic design projects.
They added working with Smith was easy, and their smooth communication made refining ideas simple. They added they both pulled and pushed ideas.
They said their goal with the project was to get experience working as a team and specifically with someone they knew well. “Sometimes it can be hard to work on a project with friends, but I say I achieved that goal. It came out nice and we had a good experience.”
Seaman said they most enjoyed coming up with the branding’s logo and putting the physical mock cereal box together.
Seaman said the poster and pamphlet design they did as a commission for Audrey Kali’s “Farm and Red Moon” event was “a very cool” experience, since it was the first freelancing work they’d done outside of school.
They added it was a good learning experience of how to work with someone who isn’t as involved with graphic design and its process, and of a client-artist dialogue.
Seaman said they plan to work alongside Kali again over the summer, redesigning her photography portfolio website, just one of many concentrations Seaman has experience in.
They said alongside the “Farm and Red Moon” posters and pamphlets and “Pangola Punch,” they also had two small booklets in the show - one for a typography class consisting of 100 S’s and another, a twist on a children’s tale for their illustration class.
Seaman said they have experience in graphic design, illustration, user experience design, web design, photography, and painting, but their favorite is illustration, since it’s most in line with how they express themselves on their own time.
They said they’ve been in two of the Mazmanian Gallery’s juried shows in the past, and thinks it’s cool to see their work displayed.
Seaman said after graduating, they expect to take a break from art and then head into freelancing shortly after until they find a permanent position.
Hakim Carnes, a studio art major with a concentration in graphic design, had an interactive exhibit involving a coloring book with several pages enlarged on the gallery walls for attendees to scribble on.
Carnes said he began only with the coloring book, but eventually knew he wanted people to be able to engage with his submission. He said he didn’t know he wanted it to be interactive when he began, but discovered it could help convey his message.
“When I was creating the coloring book, it was something I wanted to do when I was - I believe in eighth grade,” he said. “And when I was presented with doing anything basically I would like to do as my project, I thought, ‘I can finally use the time in class to do something I always wanted to do.’”
Carnes said his coloring book is called “Color Me Wild,” and includes illustrations of 10 critically endangered animals. However, Carnes said he isn’t exactly passionate about them.
“I think I’m passionate about people being aware of things,” he said. “The main reason for the animals is because I don’t think a lot of the times people in many parts of the world … know that there’s a certain amount of ‘this cheetah’ left.”
Carnes said the elephant in his coloring book has numbers of 100,000 today, but had a population of 2.3 million in 1919, explaining why he’s using his art to raise awareness about endangered species.
He said he’s done awareness art before, and painted a mural on a building in Boston at his last job, representing the community between Dominican and Haitian populations in the area.
“‘Two mountains can’t come together, but two people can.’ And that was the main banner,” he said.
Carnes said viewer involvement is an important tool in raising awareness, since without it, people might approach information and simply walk away if it doesn’t engage them.
Carnes said his favorite part was designing the patterns for each animal, which attendees colored in on the wall.
He said this is his third art showcase, with his first two being in elementary and high school, which he admitted he didn’t appreciate at the time. He added he sees it differently now as an opportunity to do more of what he loves.
“I think that over that period of time, it’s more like it’s changed for me. Because now that I’m older, it’s not something that I had to take a class for, or I was just interested in for an afterschool pastime,” he said.
Carnes added, “It’s something that I’m paying money to learn more about, to be able to monetize in a way that I would like to do.”