By Sarah Ruff and Amantha Dickman

University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s studio art and graphic design capstone class opened up their semester long work to the public Friday night.

The Eisentrager-Howard Gallery, located in Richards Hall, will continue showing the student’s art through Dec. 20 and will host the award presentations that evening at the closing reception.

All of this semester, the students and their professors have been working towards this show, gallery director and lecturer Patricia Davis said.

“I meet with them at the beginning of the semester, usually within the first month of classes and I meet with their faculty who are teaching the class and just kind of touch base about everything,” Davis said. “Then I talk to all the students as a big group and share some information with them that they need to have to begin making plans and give them my contact information.” 

This year’s capstone show provided space for 18 students, with 144 people attending the reception to see the work on its opening day. 

In preparation for the show, many artists based their work around their personal experiences. 

The Artists

Shay Chamberlain’s art focused on her experience in a relationship with a drug addict that has since ended. The art was not just for a grade, it was a way for her to deal with what she had gone through. 

“For me it was a release to let myself feel what had happened and share my story. Hopefully someone might see it and realize they aren’t alone,” Chamberlain said.

Luis Martinez said he had worked semester long on his art and is very happy that people are getting to see it. For him, a Mexican American, his art was about focusing on the experiences of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans. 

“So as a Mexican-American I was interested in focusing on Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans. I wanted to shed light on people who are often overlooked, I guess, in society” Martinez said. “For these paintings I focused on two particular scenes, one for working class labor and one of, I guess, what they’re working towards.” 

For Sam Loeffler the ceramic pieces was not just important to their future, but to their memories.. Loeffler said a lot of their work is based on their personal experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the memories the PTSD can trigger.

“My work is a lot about memory and identity and how those things influence each other,” Loeffler said. “I’m looking at the ideas of how we have to question our memories sometimes because every time we remember something  we are remembering it within the context of our own life presently, so it’s altered each time we remember it.” 

The art show does not only show paintings, photography and sculpture, but also includes graphic design. Interactive pieces by Jared Mikuls and Katherine Smith focus on prominent social issues.

Jared Mikuls has been working on graphic design over electric vehicles for the past two semesters. His interest in keeping up with technology motivated him to create a virtual reality application to demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles.

“This year I’ve been working on creating this VR application that allows people to drive inside four different electric vehicles,” Mikuls said.

Katherine Smith’s multi-media presentation was especially close to her heart because of the difference it could make for many lives. Her piece was meant to help those struggling through suicidal thoughts and depression in her interactive design through teaching the viewers the steps to helping people with suicidal thoughts and stress.

“I think we’ve all been a situation where a friend of ours or a friend of a friend is feeling suicidal or down and depressed and it can be a really scary place for them to be. So my project was to make sure that everyone had access to understanding how we can prevent suicide,” Smith said. “I wanted people to physically engage in those steps, so like recognize warning signs, I had people use binoculars to look across the gallery to find the warning signs.”

IMG 1753 300x200 - Senior gallery opening prepares for award presentation
Up close on Katherine Smith’s project called REACH

UNL graduate, Daniel Aranda-Fregoso, went to see his friend Martinez’ art work and said it was very well worth it and it would be worth visiting before the gallery closes its doors for winter break.

“I really liked it, it’s not one of the things I usually go to. Once I was there I realized it was really interesting,” Aranda-Fregoso said. “There was a lot of stuff there I didn’t expect and it really showcased UNL’s art talent well. It was pretty amazing and people should go.”


Sarah Ruff is a senior at University of Nebraska Lincoln majoring in journalism and advertising and public relations.