Class of 2020 Artists Honored in Senior Exhibition

Posted Jan 15, 2021

By Madelyn Nelson ’23

Artists Honored In Senior Exhibition

Senior artists from the Class of 2020 will finally have a chance to share their art with “The Forgotten Class: A 2020 Senior Art Exhibition,” running from Jan. 19-Feb. 12 in the Miller Gallery in the Art and Communication Building, 33 Collegeview Road, Westerville. The gallery is open from 8-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The senior art exhibition traditionally is held in the spring, but the showcase for the class of 2020 was cancelled because of the pandemic. Now, after graduating from Otterbein and waiting nine months, the artists are ready to showcase their artwork and have their senior exhibition.

The exhibition showcases work from 11 artists. The artwork is unique to the graduate and displays different colors, textures, and art forms. Thanks to the artists’ cooperation and the dedication of faculty and staff to the success of the graduates, the exhibition will honor the class of 2020.

“We really wanted to get the students that missed out on their senior exhibition a chance to fulfill that rite of passage,” said Chaz O’Neil ’06, the museum and galleries assistant and collections registrar.

Artists Honored In Exhibition

O’Neil, who organizes and oversees the art galleries, curated the exhibit. He contacted graduates and collected their work, giving them a proper ending to an Otterbein art education. One graduate even mailed her artwork from Florida to be a part of the exhibition.

“They have been developing these voices and bodies of work for four years. Some students go in different directions with photography, drawing, ceramics, or painting. All the media that we offer are well represented. We have print making, graphic design — there really are no parameters. It is whatever they have been pursuing for the past four years,” O’Neil said about the variety of pieces in the gallery.

The class of 2020 is setting an example for following classes. “Going through the pandemic, it’s still possible to be motivated and persevere. Don’t give up. If they can come out on the other side, the seniors from 2021 and beyond can do it, too,” O’Neil said.

The Class of 2020 graduates lost many traditional ceremonies and events, but these artists have the opportunity to reclaim a special part of their college career. The exhibition reminds these graduates that they were not forgotten.

You can read the O’Neil’s curator statement from the exhibition below:

So much has been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spring semester of 2020, we, as educators, lost one-on-one contact with our students as our personal lives were upended and we moved to virtual instruction. Countless months of social distancing, working and learning from home, and the fear of how this pandemic will play out has not come to an end. With University campuses across the country being deserted, and tight restrictions on group gatherings put in place, we lost the ability to formally celebrate our senior graduating classes in the form of Senior Art Exhibitions. The faculty and staff in the Art & Art History Department have not forgotten these students. As a small, close-knit department, we develop special relationships with every one of our art and art history majors and minors. As an Otterbein alumnus and former art major, I know the importance of planning and executing a senior exhibition to prepare oneself for a career in the world of art.  

The Forgotten Class celebrates the recent graduates of Otterbein who missed their opportunity to showcase their four years of study, experimentation, and hard work in a Senior Art Exhibition. As curator, I was tasked with re-connecting with these former students, who are now out in the real world, and asked them to recreate what they would have originally displayed. Some had predetermined artworks for this exhibition, while some have turned their attention and energy to new causes and aspirations since graduation.  

It has been such a pleasure to work with each one of these artists during this process. That is what they are now. More than graduates of Otterbein University. They are Artists. These artists have been thrust out into a strange time in human history but know they can always turn to their faculty and mentors in the Department of Art & Art History for continued guidance and support as they venture out into the world beyond Otterbein’s walls.  

Despite the challenges and unforeseen circumstances, we all experienced in Spring 2020, we will never forget this class of creative individuals for their perseverance and dedication to see this exhibition, a year later, come to a realization.