‘Awakening’: Seniors show art works

Sweet Briar studio art majors Hollie Halford and Chloe Bandas will open their senior art show, “Wide/Rude Awakening,” with a reception at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 2, in Babcock Gallery.

Painting by Hollie Halford
Painting by Hollie Halford

Both students are personally reflective in their works, but approach art from different places in the creative process.

“Hollie’s work in a variety of media — from drawing through printmaking to assemblage/sculpture — is political, bravely dealing with challenging material,” says her instructor, studio art professor Laura Pharis.

Halford explains why in her artist statement.

“As a native of Alabama,” she writes, “I have been exposed to and accused of many stereotypes — most of which are completely inaccurate.”

She felt the stigma of growing up in the Deep South and says, “I was guilty of wanting to get away as fast as I possibly could.”

After four years at Sweet Briar, visiting other states, a summer in the south of France, and much reflection on politics, race and religion, Halford has a rekindled love and appreciation for her home. That doesn’t mean she is a “fan of the old ways of the South,” but all of these things inform her art.

“I have chosen to depict my subjects factually, and the majority of my pieces contain black, white and red,” she says. “Many of my works include collaging of maps to pinpoint a particular area of the United States, the Bible Belt, and the state that defines me most, Alabama.”

Halford wants her art to remind us to learn from mistakes of the past.

“Recently, there have been more controversies between races than usual,” she says. “I want to point out that if we do not stop the bickering between races, the history of the United States will repeat itself.”

Halford, a dean’s list student and athlete on the softball team, switched majors when she realized she was drawn more to studio art than engineering. After graduation, she plans to hike and sightsee in Canada, then work as a full-time assistant for artist Nall Hollis, with whom she apprenticed during her summer in France.

Painting by Chloe Bandas
Painting by Chloe Bandas

Bandas’ abstract paintings flowed from a trip to Israel last summer, which she documented in photographs. Those two weeks had a profound impact on her work, says the Richmond native.

“Traveling through the landscape of Israel has inspired the development of my formal elements, color, space, pattern and movement, which create my imagery,” she says.

She starts with color, lines and shapes, layering paint on the canvas, then reacting to what she sees to decide what she will do next.

“Chloe’s photography, which focuses on color, pattern and texture, is a springboard into her non-objective work in drawing and painting,” Pharis says. “She is all about process.”

Bandas leaves the interpretation to the viewer, but hopes her works evoke some emotion.

Art has always been part of Bandas’ life, and she chose Sweet Briar to study art history. Forming bonds with her professors and discovering her creative side in studio art classes, she decided to double major in both disciplines. After an internship at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts last summer, she looks forward to incorporating both fields into a professional career.

Admission to the reception and exhibition is free. The show will remain on view through May 16. For more information, contact Karol Lawson klawson@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6248.