By CRISTINA JANNEY
The art was about the experience and the space Wednesday night at the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art.
Crystal Hammerschmidt, FHSU graduate student, stepped out of her two-dimensional world of printmaking this summer to create a greenhouse for her "What We Keep Inside" installation.
Nine Fort Hays State University student artists exhibited art installations from a summer workshop at the gallery for one night only.
Hammerschmidt's space included live plants, marbles, crystals, rocks, a dish of chocolates to please your taste buds and a comfy chair covered by a crocheted afghan in which to relax.
"You can enter the greenhouse, which is all about creating a safe space, a comfortable space. You think about internalizing and finding some peace and balance," she said.
The live plants are from Hammerschmidt's own "home jungle."
"They have become a sense of home and place for me," she said of the plants. "They also represent people. Objects within this space hold memory for me. The plants represent for me a place or people or an event or chapter in my life."
She said the work was about engaging the audience and talking about time and memory.
"Earlier today someone told me, 'It reminds me of my aunt's back porch with all of her plants and her chair. She'd sit back there and smoke.'
"I said, 'You connected to a memory, and that is what this space is about is connecting with those happy memories — those peaceful memories and giving yourself that place to relax, let things go and figure out what is important,'" Hammerschmidt said.
Finding parental approval
Kathy Robb, FHSU graduate student in art, created a mixed media sculpture that included a fawn titled "Look Dad an Antler." She said it will be a preview of a larger piece that will be part of her master's thesis exhibit in January.
She says the sculpture depicts a fawn that is out with its father and sees a previously shed antler stuck in a tree. The fawn leans down as if he he trying on the antler.
Robb of Kansas City said the piece is meant to be symbolic of human's quest for their parents' approval.
Robb said she has felt a special kinship with animals since she was a young child and was attacked by a pedophile who exposed himself to her.
Like the fawn, she became very fearful of people, as well as struggled to gain her mother's acceptance, Robb said.
Exploring death, resurrection
Bethany Panhorst, FHSU graduate student in art from Savannah, Ga., created an installation titled "Waiting for Morning," which combined a partially buried ceramic body in dirt and a video of a sunrise.
"I wanted to remind the viewer of death," she said. "In art there is this term, memento mori, which is a tradition of reminding the viewer that they, like everyone else, will die.
"I wanted to create a sense of humility or reverence or urgency, even maybe."
The sun coming up is meant to be a hopeful metaphor, she said.
She said she gleans many of her ideas from Biblical passages. The last section of Isaiah references things being restored and uses metaphors of light and the morning.
Proverbs says righteousness shines brighter and brighter until noon day. Psalm 1:30 talks about waiting for the morning, which is used figuratively to discuss redemption.
"In Christianity, there is this idea of resurrection when the soul, which is separated from the body at death, is reunited with the body," Panhorst said. "I'm trying to talk about that, not only that happening, but the waiting for that and the expectation of that."
Linda Ganstrom, FHSU art professor, taught the summer art installation workshop.
The class also did installations at Castle Rock and on campus. For these art pieces, the students had to create pieces that interacted with the environment.
The students worked the last two-weeks of the four-week class on their pieces that were displayed Wednesday night.
"It starts off usually with an art object, but then it starts to interact with the wall and the floor that is maybe a little more conscious than just hanging a painting on the wall or setting a pedestal on the floor and setting an object on there," she said.
She said some of the pieces were very serious and other more light-hearted, but they all reflected the artists' styles and passions.
"We are hopping to create an experience for the viewer, so when they leave, they have a strong memory of the piece," she said. "Maybe in some way it changes them their life view."
Updated 2:30 p.m. Sunday to correct the name of "Look Dad an Antler."