To end their college career, each student in Waynesburg University’s fine arts department is required to complete a capstone project in the form of an art showcase before graduation. It provides them with an opportunity to display the artwork they created in their time as a student.
Alex Lawrence, senior art major and digital design minor, displayed her exhibit March 18. Andrew Heisey, chairperson of the fine arts department, assists students in preparing for this process during their four years in the program.
“Every art major is required to do for their capstone project a senior exhibition,” Heisey said. “They spend their four years creating a body of work [and] we make artwork specifically for this show as well, but they have to curate and hang the entire gallery with their work.”
Lawrence’s path to Waynesburg originally grew from her interest in the softball team, but the art program quickly became a draw for the Bridgeville, Pennsylvania native.
“I met with [Professor] Heisey over the summer, and he sold the program,” she said. “He said that [Waynesburg] had a good program and professors. What really interested me was the senior exhibit, having your own senior exhibit at the end of the four years and it’s cool to see all of the work that you’ve made throughout the years.”
Lawrence’s passion for art developed over her time as on campus. As she began creating different types of artwork including ceramics and paintings, she realized there were a few things that inspired her.
“At first when I was making art, I was just doing still life’s and I wasn’t doing anything that was meaningful,” Lawrence said. “I started doing animals because I feel like they don’t get as much appreciation. I have a love for elephants, and I look them up all the time and donate too much money to them. But I think when you make a piece of an animal it’s an appreciation for them.”
Another one of Lawrence’s most personal creations was inspired by her sister, who at the time was suffering from a brain tumor.
“This is a picture of my sister and there is a little grenade in it,” Lawrence said. “That represented a brain tumor that was located in that part of her brain. And so I dedicated this piece to her, and I didn’t want to stop working on the piece because I wanted to make it perfect for her and show that this is what was going on in my life and I can express it through my art better than talking about it. That was a big challenge, working through that with her and so I’m very proud of that piece.”
Heisey said those two aspects of Lawrence are interesting, and that it’s common for artists to use their work to express themselves.
“She has a passion for animals and so in a lot of her work she’s incorporated animals in some fashion or another,” Heisey said. “It’s not just animals though, a lot of personal narrative is in her work. A lot of artists will use their artwork to illustrate personal struggle and I know that’s come in to play for her, [a] couple tough spots for her have shown up in her work. It’s just a way a lot of artists with deal with it.”
Outside of the art studio, Lawrence has attended service trips and played softball while maintaining her academics. Heisey applauded Lawrence for her work ethic and ability to balance academics and co-curriculars.
“[Lawrence] is a very hard-working student,” he said. “She’s very creative and is a good leader.
She also plays softball and any student who plays a sport faces that challenge. But she’s been very good at balancing both areas: her studies and working out her softball career.”
Lawrence plans to graduate in May and work in education teaching art. She said it’s possible that she will be able to work, but as an art teacher at the daycare where she already works. No matter where she goes, Lawrence wanted to leave the fine arts department and Waynesburg with the same attitude and mentality that helped sculpt her into the artist and person she is today.
“You have to keep working hard with everything you do,” Lawrence said. “If you don’t like what you’re making, then restart. Keep working hard and you’ll be surprised at what you can do if you put time and effort. When you sit down, this shouldn’t be work, you should want to do it.”