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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Student Art Works on Human Nature

Author: Luke Farrel

On Friday evening, a diverse group of students, faculty and community members gathered in Johnson Memorial Building to celebrate the artwork of Middlebury College seniors Tim Sinnott and Mike Moran.

The artists' semester-long projects stemmed from their interest and involvement in the studio arts program.

The Brainerd Commons-sponsored event was one in a series of student exhibitions showcased during the final weeks of the semester.

While enjoying a live and upbeat musical performance by Hijack the Disco, the crowd of observers explored the building in high spirits, sharing comments regularly and showing their appreciation for the artwork.

From the central gallery, music from the band echoed off the tile floors and concrete walls as onlookers toured a collection of sculptures and scanned photographs.

The spacious room, with its dim yellow lighting, provided the perfect atmosphere for perusing Sinnott's artistic manipulations of human form and gesture.

The project consisted of the construction of several sculptures ranging from plaster fists to oversized eyeglasses made of steel and plexi-glass — each a representation of Sinnott's own ideas regarding human nature.

"I have been fascinated with the human form," Sinnott explained, "and have made myself the subject of many drawings, paintings and sculptures, in which I push the boundaries, both metaphorically and physically, of my body. My initial purpose was to challenge myself to try and see how many different ways I could view and represent my body and mind."

Sinnott was able to express himself artistically through his sculptures, which were fabricated using a variety of different materials, including metal, clay, rope, plexi-glass, tempera paint and plaster.

At the same time, his innovative techniques and multimedia approach challenged others to consider different ideas of how the human body can be interpreted.

"My work can be taken very literally as a study of the human form. It can also be viewed as examples of how I am influenced by the world around me, and the thoughts I take away from my daily experiences," Sinnott said.

In a peripheral gallery, other spectators convened to examine Moran's exhibit entitled, "Life Injars." Moran's artwork consisted of three sculptures and a series of 33 black and white photographs that starkly depicted the relationship between humans and the natural world.

"The project was started this semester," he explained, "but it allowed me to express thoughts I've developed over the past couple years."

A joint biology and psychology major, Moran's independent project allowed him to take the idea of evolution out of context and explore it creatively.

Attesting to the interdisciplinary nature of his work, Moran commented, "I like playing [my academic interests] off each other by exploring how detached humans are from nature, and what that leads to in terms of our psychology."

The photographs were presented in an almost sporadic fashion, each wall displaying its own progression and interrelationships. "I had an overall vision of what I wanted to present: human life detached from nature," he noted.

His artwork expressed this sentiment vividly — from an image of the horizon viewed through a foggy window, to a photograph of a skeleton gazing off at the sunset, to a faded reflection of a solitary telephone pole in a sidewalk puddle.

In addition, Moran's sculptures of a crooked skeleton, a man pieced together with shreds of rubber and a spiraling chair made out of a dead tree trunk, encouraged the spirit of invention and creativity.

When asked how the artists felt about the well attended exhibit, Sinnott exclaimed, "I was absolutely satisfied with the turnout and the reactions from people. I would have been satisfied with just a handful of people, but the more the merrier."

Moran echoed these comments. "It was definitely overwhelming and surprising to see so many people interested in my artwork," he explained.

After a wonderful night of art and music, the band played its final tunes while onlookers stole a last glance at the seniors' renditions of human nature.

With its mixture of different media raising thoughtful questions on the body, man and earth, it was of no surprise to them why the exhibition attracted so much attention. The artwork will remain displayed in Johnson Memorial Building for the remainder of the week.