Senior BFA exhibition at the Foster Gallery

Story by Frank F. Pellegrino

A validation of her career.

That’s the way senior Constance Thomson Best-Ashby described the feeling of finally being able to participate in the bachelor of fine arts candidates’ senior show.

Best-Ashby, a non-traditional student who originally began working towards a BFA in 1972, has waited nearly 40 years to finally participate.

Each semester, the senior BFA exhibition takes place and features works from all of the BFA students who will be graduating that semester. This fall’s show, which began Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 11 in the Foster Gallery, is titled ‘Birth to the World Four More.’

Foster Gallery Director Tom Wagener said he thinks the show is a great way for seniors to display how developed their skills are to the rest of campus.

“I think it’s pretty exciting to see that we are doing some neat things in the art department,” he said. “I think we see some students here who definitely have the ability to go on.”

The senior BFA exhibitions have gone on every semester since the BFA program began in 1970, Wagener said. He said that it’s not uncommon for the fall show to have far less students than the spring, but that the four from this semester is fewer than usual.

Although eight to ten students usually participate in the fall show, Wagener said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that each student will be able to have more work in
the show.

“Especially if they have a lot more space, there is an underlying want or desire to bring more work in, and we strongly discourage it because the work that they’ve selected is their strongest work,” Wagener said.

Instead, Wagener said that students will have more space to spread out their work, and that they also have the opportunity to present larger pieces.

BFA students pick an area of emphasis like painting, sculpture or ceramics, Wagener said. Even with just four students participating this semester, Wagener still thinks there is a nice variety in the styles and mediums used by the seniors.


Thomson Best-Ashby

Best-Ashby said she went back and forth working for her BFA about six or seven times, but that something always seemed to get in the way.

“I started out in ’72 and ’73 and had health issues along with raising three teenagers, so it wasn’t a good time,” she said. “There was always art, but I had to make a living.”

She said all of her works being featured were put together at different points in time during the last 40 years. One painting, “Untitled,” was even made during her first year on campus in 1972, and she said nothing has been changed since.


True Lor

Lor has an emphasis in ceramics and said she’s excited about finally getting the opportunity to participate in the senior BFA show.

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to show what we’ve done and what we’ve learned throughout our whole career at the university,” she said. “It’s really awesome to just be able to show our talents and all of the things that we’ve been working really hard for.”

Lor said her style represents a combination of her Hmong culture and American heritage colliding together as one.


Kim Vaughter

Wagener said that Vaughter, who has an emphasis in painting, tries to summarize her experiences at UW-Eau Claire through her work.

“They are kind of a reflection of different areas that she has studied throughout her semesters here,” Wagener said.

One of the benefits of having fewer students involved, Wagener said, is that Vaughter was able to feature a larger installation piece. He said that people who see Vaughter’s work in the gallery will definitely notice parallels between the installation and her paintings.


Ivan Ventzke

Ventzke said it’s been a stressful couple of weeks leading up to the show, but that he wouldn’t change it for anything.

“It’s been nuts, it’s been a real hard push, I haven’t gotten a whole lot of sleep,” he said. ”It’s definitely worth it in the end seeing everything in the show.”

The time he’s spent outdoors is where Ventzke said he draws most his inspiration. Ventzke, a ceramics emphasis, said times spent by the river or fishing have helped the most.

“That’s really where all this work came from — pretty much my love of nature and the intrigue I have about the natural environment around us,” Ventzke said.

Expectations are high.

Wagener said that he approaches the senior BFA shows the same way he would approach any professional show he’s installed in Foster Gallery.

“I’m very insistent that the arrangements are done well, that the works are hung correctly, that the lighting is all done,” he said.

The gallery is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. It is also open Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Lor said she encourages all students, faculty or stuff considering attending to go.

“It just really shows the diversity of what we have here, the different talents, the different types of art that we have here,” Lor said. “And students — they work so hard here — so why not come and look at all their