The University of Wisconsin Art Department is showcasing the class of 2021’s art portfolios online. The portfolios, which display pieces ranging from sound to glassblowing, are available to see on the department’s website.
Though having the exhibition online did have its drawbacks, it was better than having no exhibition at all, UW BFA graduate Emma Leeper said in an email interview.
“I’m happy we had any chance to have some sort of display to showcase our work,” Leeper said. “I definitely miss those questions and tones that only come with the flow of conversation. Often people feel weird reaching out about art because they think they’ll sound ‘unintelligent’ or don’t feel like their thoughts are valid.”
In her artist statement, Leeper said she straddles the line between art and design to tell stories that grab the viewer’s attention.
One of her portfolio’s most evocative pieces is an eerie, green self-portrait of Leeper extending her hand into a cone of light. The title of the piece is “Self Portrait 1 (Responsibility).”
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Leeper said that she began drawing when she was very young. At UW, she said she had the chance to explore other mediums.
“I learned so much and met so many well-established artists,” Leeper said. “UW has a ton of resources and a great variety of art classes that you can never stop exploring within the art department. It’s a very welcoming community and one of the most diverse on campus.”
According to Leeper, the best time to apply to internships would have been the summer of 2020, but she was not in a good headspace since that was the first summer of COVID-19. Instead, she focused on her mental health.
Leeper said that she is currently a contract artist for a local brewery and she has an internship to illustrating children’s books.
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On her personal website, Leeper announced she is displaying her senior exhibition Oct. 4 in San Carlos, California.
“I think the one good thing that came out of this was that I am inspired to have a show of my own,” Leeper said. “If we’d had a senior exhibition planned as normal, I would not have thought twice about trying to display my work again — at least for the time being. So, while it’s really a bummer not to show with my classmates, it really did open up opportunities and push us to go the extra mile to make the best of what we have.”
The rest of the artists in the exhibition were unavailable to comment at the time of this article’s publication.