The Emerald Isle & the Evolution of Mediums: Gunsallus and McFerren present Senior Showcase

(from left to right) “Colors of Fall” by Kate McFerren, “I Am Three Oceans Away From My Soul” by Laina Gunsallus, “The Bernard Shaw (Home)” by Laina Gunsallus, “Geometric Self” by Kate McFerren

On Sunday Apr. 12, Laina Gunsallus and Kate McFerren presented their Senior Showcase Art Show in the Stocksdale Gallery in Brown Hall. Both women presented their works with artists’ statements and a brief talk-back, allowing attendees to understand each piece to the fullest. Each woman had a distinctly different style, but both put together a great showcase that brought out their strengths and drew from deep connections with their craft.

“Stories from the Emerald Isle,” Laina Gunsallus

Gunsallus’ work is an eclectic mix of mediums with a strong central theme and color palette. The “Emerald Isle” in her title is a reference to her semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland during the 2014 spring semester. It has been a full year since her experience abroad, but Gunsallus artwork recalls deeply rooted memories. According to her artist’s statement, she fell in love with “the ocean, hot black tea, grace, [her]self, 6AM and the boy from Percy Lane (in that order).” Elements of these loves are clearly seen in each piece.

The exhibit is set up like an impeccably designed art blog. The color palette consisted of a cool mix of pastels, light blues, cool greys, soft yellows, sandy tans, that made one think of the beaches and muted colors of Ireland’s coast. Highlights of the exhibit include a gorgeous oil painting entitled “6:48AM in Port Rush” and “Letters to the Ocean and the Man on Percy Lane.” The latter piece is my particular favorite because of its nine frame structure consisting of postcard-esque snapshots of a life full of love. The use of different mediums, including watercolor, collage, pen and ink and typography, is symbolic to the different experiences of her journey rolled into one perfectly organized set.

Gunsallas is both artist and storyteller, communicating with the audience a full narrative told only through pictures. It may seem like an arduous task, but when one has an epic tale to tell, one finds a way to make it heard. As she says in her statement, “art is the pursuit of story; the artist [is] the storyteller.” It certainly pays off for Gunsallus, who manages to capture an entire journey’s worth of tales in roughly 12 works.

“Stories from the Emerald Isle” takes each visitor on a journey to Ireland as they observe Gunsallus transformation from a traveler into a pseudo-native. You can observe some of Gunsallus’ other works online (

“Evolution of Mediums,” Kate McFerren

In contrast, but not in conflict with Gunsallus’ works is Kate McFerren’s “Evolution of Mediums,” a 12 piece collection of various types of photography and painting styles. McFerren’s artist statement starts with the statement that we “live in a digital age” and her exhibit reflects this assertion but maintains a sense of natural artistry. It seems easy enough for a photographer to print a picture onto photo paper and call it good, but McFerren said she wanted to find a new way to present her pictures to viewers. In order to accomplish this, she printed four different pictures onto various types of media including canvas, lightbox, wood and metal. The results are amazing, and McFerren’s photographs pop on each surface.

McFerren did not just explore photography; her exhibit also includes oil paintings, sketches and other fine art mediums. An example of her crossover between different styles is in her works “Painted Pixelation” and “Digital Pointillism.” The latter was a pixelated image printed on metal and the former is the same image painted in pointillism style, which is a style marked by small dots of color. The works, presented side by side, showcase McFerren’s adaptability in many mediums.

I would highly recommend seeing “Evolution of Mediums” because it has a diverse collection of art styles. The difference between the self portrait done with different shapes entitled “Geometric Self” and the pastel entitled “Snowy Street” lets viewers know that McFerren is multi-talented in many art forms and is an artistic force with which to be reckoned. McFerren may believe that she has “no inherent artistry,” as referenced in her statement, but that is hard for me to believe when looking at her wide expanse of works. You can check out McFerren’s art exhibit online on her website

Both exhibits are on display in the Stocksdale Gallery in Brown Hall until May 16.

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