Nexus: 50th anniversary of the senior undergraduate arts exhibition


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the senior undergraduate exhibition at UW. The fine arts department invited everyone to the senior year show hosted by the UW Art Gallery. The exhibition aims to capture what students learned in the studio arts program and showcase their creativity. 

There were many exceptional pieces from students in the graduating class, with a few standout pieces in particular. Salem Velaquez’s pieces included embroidery on apron and crochet acrylic yarn. Her pieces were inspired by her culture and the discontent she feels towards it. Growing up as a Canadian, but also as a Hispanic, she felt like she had to set aside her Hispanic culture to learn English. “These pieces are me connecting to my Hispanic culture and connecting it in artwork in the way I enjoy, such as crocheting,” she said. 

Kali Dunlop’s piece featured spray paint on fences and was about the June 28 attack during a gender issues class last year, of which she was a student of and bore witness to that day. Two of her classmates and her professor were stabbed, while the attacker proceeded to try to stab her over a table. “I was really frustrated with how the university was handling the whole thing, especially when they said we don’t need any entrances and exits in our classrooms,” she said. “I think that it is something we need to pay more attention to as students and I don’t think the university has our safety first hand.”

Echo Vettoretto’s piece was a tufted rug with acrylic yarn. He expressed interest in working with figures and with gender. “These rugs are filled with figures that you have to find and all of them are falling so they are all overlapped, it is very chaotic,” he said. “The figures are telling a story of love and companionship because they are falling through the chaos but have each other.”

Nathan Bao’s piece of 3-D animation represented the daily grind and how people are stuck in it. He mentioned that work is inspired by the concept of an infinite number of stars. “I wanted to portray a figure that’s frustrated between burning out and figuring out their self image,” he said. 

Jennifer Phovixay’s piece, called Derivative, aimed to explore mathematics through an artistic lens and visualize the loss of data over time. Phovixay is a fine arts major minoring in mathematics, and ultimately aims to become a high school teacher who teaches both subjects. “I wanted to show loss of data from how an artist would intercept and how a computer would,” she expressed.

Ivan Jurakic, director of the gallery, said they generally do multiple studio visits with the students, and do a final selection in March. “This year, there were 26 students, which was a few more than last year so the gallery was more packed. We got a really good response to the show,” he said. “Also, the fact that this cohort had more time in the studio than in their bedrooms compared to during the pandemic.” 

Ariel Rossiter, co-chair of Nexus, mentioned that everything went extremely well and there was amazing work produced. “It’s a two-term course. The first term, we are getting groups and ideas together. Second term, we are focused on creating the pieces and getting the show in order.” 

Damia Yarar, co-chair of Nexus, said putting the show together was mentally taxing, because every participant put so much effort in it, and she didn’t want it to fail. “You kind of want to please the people, but also be yourself, so sometimes you forget about the pleasing part and just go for it. Making mistakes and being courageous was my experience.” She explained that there was a team for everything, from fundraising to events and the catalog. Everyone was on top of their roles, leading to a successful event in the end. 

Cora Cluett, associate professor of the fine arts, said she normally teaches the fourth-year class in the fall term, and has taught it in the winter term a couple of times. The last time she taught it in the winter term was during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Students were ready to bring their work to the gallery, but I had to tell them to keep it in their studio and the exhibition never happened,” she said. “The fact that I got to teach it again this winter, and got to see the exhibition come to life was really gratifying.”