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Girls on Top: Student artists' classwork on display

By Tina Ou     10/6/11 7:00pm

Saints. A penguin. A pig. Spot these in the still-lifes created by six female students in ARTS 323, the Intermediate Studio Drawing I class taught by Karin Broker from the Visual and Dramatic Arts Department. The students' artwork opened on display on Oct. 5 and will stay up until Dec. 15 in their art show titled "Girls on Top," which will be held in the Mezzanine Gallery on the top floor of the Rice Media Center.

According to Broker, the show will not be fixed, but will instead grow as the semester continues. Currently, the works displayed are all large-scale 3-D still-life drawings. The lab exhibition, as Broker calls the show, will allow people to see the progression of students' work from the beginning to the end of the semester. Broker said she has never known there to be a show similar to what is planned for Girls on Top.

"It truly is something that is not typical," Broker said. "We're putting an exhibition on view, but the work is constantly changing."

Martel College sophomore Angela Tran, a student in ARTS 323, said she and her classmates used conte crayon as the medium and a cloth for the smearing effects. She said the art pieces are roughly 45 inches by 56 inches. Broker sets time limits for completion of the artworks, and as a result, Tran said she has learned how to plan what she wants to draw and how to complete it. According to Tran, she has learned to focus on specific areas of a still-life drawing rather than the complete set-up.

"I'm still not a pro at this, so I hope to develop better decision-making skills, speed and a more aggressive drawing style because right now, I draw very lightly," Tran said. "I hope to flesh out my own sense of style of drawing while improving on technique."

Broker said the students used objects such as bones, bricks, shoes, rope and other household items to build figures for their designs. Sometimes, Broker makes adjustments to the creations, but the students have considerable input regarding the themes they want to portray.

One of Tran's works includes a dog drinking from a bottle, a penguin, two skeletons playing drums and a saxophone.

"I wanted a light-hearted kind of party atmosphere," Tran said.

Broker said her job is not to change the students' drawing styles, but rather to push their limits and teach them how to manipulate drawing aggressively. She said she wants her students to be able to draw comfortably and fearlessly so that they can quickly reproduce what they see.

"I'm trying to broaden their spectrum of drawing," Broker said.

Each student worked on at least two art pieces for the opening of the show. With a time limit of about twelve hours for each piece, the girls have been able to significantly increase their experience in still-life drawing on large canvases.

"I don't feel [the paper] is too big anymore," Will Rice College sophomore Hye Jeon Jeon said.

Broker said the students have been working on technique and relationships in the images, as well as defining intersections and sharpness in their art. Broker has focused on quality of line, sensitivity of value and the necessity of good composition. In addition, the still-life drawings must display dialogue between the objects and have a story behind them.

The students' current project is to make 3-D masks for Halloween. According to Broker, the students will have to wear their designs as physical clothes that do not fall apart. Broker said she hopes the drawings will show the students' creativity and character.

The name Girls on Top was chosen because the drawing class consists of only girls, and they occupy the top floors of both Sewall Hall and the Rice Media Center, Broker said.

Furthermore, Broker said the girls in her class are rather quiet, and the emphasis on feminine presence in the name of the class exhibition reflects her quest to encourage the girls to be more aggressive and have the confidence to display their talents.

By focusing on various aspects of drawing, Broker hopes to give her students a stronger foundation in art. A second opening has been planned for sometime in November to showcase the development of the girls' artistic styles.

"It's like playing a violin," Broker said. "You can scratch noises out of it, or you can out a tone until it just disappears."

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