Herron School of Art and Design's annual 'Look/See' exhibition features students' best work online

Painting of people standing as if contemplating something that is not thereView print quality image
Anita Gordon, a senior earning her BFA in painting, will show her painting "Impressionable" among her works displayed during Herron School of Art and Design's annual year-end "Look/See" exhibit, now held online. Courtesy Anita Gordon

If this were any other year, both buildings of Herron School of Art and Design would be teeming with student artwork right now, showcasing their best in the year-end "Look/See" event, an evening of celebration featuring art sales, performances and more, coinciding with the opening of student exhibitions in the galleries.

Of course, this isn't any other year.

Just as classroom instruction all across IUPUI has gone online in the midst of the coronavirus, so has the 10th annual "Look/See" celebration. Works by students completing master's degrees and undergraduate capstone projects are not on a wall or a display monitor -- they are on a dedicated page on Herron's website that launched this week and will be constantly updated as projects are turned in.

This type of exhibition isn't something that anyone would have imagined just two months ago, but the final product is just as special -- and perhaps more inspiring -- as previous "Look/See" installments.

"Students have been challenged to produce professional-quality documentation of their works without the resources of Herron's facilities," said Vance Farrow, associate professor and department chair in fine arts. "The situation has definitely required them to be resourceful and innovative, but those are qualities that Herron students have in abundance."

Visual communication design students, to name one group, are being featured in "Look/See" and have also created an Instagram page of their work. Other students' Instagram collections and personal art sites can be found under the "Meet the Students" section of the "Look/See" page.

The situation has definitely required them to be resourceful and innovative, but those are qualities that Herron students have in abundance.

Vance Farrow, assistant professor and department chair, fine arts

"As designers, we're always supposed to take challenges and make opportunities," senior Essence Jones said. "I'm excited to see how all of my classmates adapted."

Jones created an app for college-age women to find mentors in their career field titled "Women Empowered," a project that required an attractive interface but also an intuitive infrastructure.

Chad Wysong, another senior in visual communication design, is displaying an iPad app prototype to streamline communication between doctors and parents in the oncology unit at Riley Hospital for Children. During an internship when he often shadowed doctor visits, he noticed parents scrambling to take notes in personal notebooks. With his app, information can be better managed and understood.

For the aforementioned apps, videos will be displayed that show how they work. The online "Look/See" also features more-traditional works that you'd see in a gallery, such as photography, furniture design, drawing and painting.

"It's quite a bit different -- in person, you see the size of works, textures, all the elements. You also get to talk to people and get that direct feedback," said Anita Gordon, who is earning her BFA in painting. "Online isn't quite the same, but it's still good. We're able to utilize social media to get conversations started."

Gordon's work begs for those conversations; she is exhibiting paintings dealing with adaptive behavior. While the range of sizes is tough to capture on a screen -- from 5 feet by 4 feet to 11 inches by 14 inches, in her case -- the presentation of her human subjects through oil and acrylic paints is no less inviting.

And at the end of the day (or a school year), isn't the point of an art exhibition to be inviting, whether it's in a building or at your fingertips?

"The exhibition will feature a wide array of student dreams, observations, musings, considerations, questions -- human experiences manifested and captured for all visitors to see," Farrow said. "Visitors will also see things that both befuddle and charm them, taking their brains on a visual and intellectual roller coaster ride.

"Why would anyone want to miss that?"