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The Arts Scene

Seniors Give A Final Bow

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(5/2011) The time is fast approaching, the time that many of us students dread. It is the time when teachers assign last minute projects, essays, and group work to fit in as much work as possible before classes end and finals week begins. But for the seniors here at the Mount, the main thing on their minds (besides Senior Formal, graduation, entering the job market, and of course, the "real world" that lies ahead) is their senior projects. These projects are a way for them to celebrate their time here at the Mount and showcase their talents to the entire community. We are able to recognize the hard work that they have put in over the last four years. As the end of the school year approaches, we will get to enjoy more and more of these senior projects.

I had the pleasure of attending Gigi Gibiliscoís senior recital, entitled "An Evening of Broadway." The thing that made this performance truly unique was the fact that he made it into, as Gigi described, a "family affair." He was able to fulfill his dream of performing with not only his brother Jaime, but also his father Lou, who is the head of the Performing Arts at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, NJ. Accompanied by his father on the piano, Gigi and his brother Jaime performed a variety of Broadway songs that left the entire audience in awe. The performance ended with an incredible trio consisting of Lou, Gigi, and Jaime Gibilisco. This was Gigiís favorite moment of the performance, and he indicated that it was something that he will never forget.

The response to the recital was an overwhelming standing ovation, and the first question that was asked during the question and answer session came from a student wondering what was in the water where they lived to make them so talented!

Gigiís song choices for the performance were diverse and challenging, allowing him to practice his acting skills along with his singing. In addition to making sure his voice stayed healthy throughout the performance, he had to play the role of each character from the song selections, which came from twelve different Broadway musicals. "Each song had to do with human relationships in one way or another. The message of human relationship is a universal principle that can speak to every person," he explained.

The experience was a learning lesson not only for those of us who had the pleasure of attending this performance, but also for Gigi. He was able to see firsthand how much works actually goes into performances like these. "Other than learning the songs and connecting with the text and message, the logistics of putting on a concert/recital is what many people take for granted," Gigi explained.

Gigi is pursuing a degree in the Mount's MAT program for a Master's in Music Education, but he hopes to make his living performing before he pursues a career in education. Plans to find a union job at Disney World are in the cards for Gigi, and eventually he would like to audition on Broadway in New York City. As the vocal and acting coach at the Performing Arts Summer Session at his high school, he is gaining experience while also making himself more marketable for jobs after he graduates. Iím sure we will see great things from Gigi in the future!

In the visual arts realm of the art world, senior Mackenzie Rich focused her project on creating work that showcases form and the beauty of material. She enjoys that she can allow the viewer to interpret each piece in his or her own way. Her artwork is a way for herself as the artist to express her ideas while still allowing the viewer to participate in the work interactively. Each person could take away something entirely different from the pieces.

Mackenzieís approach to art strays from the traditional approach, but in doing so it provides a unique perspective for the viewer. "My work is about process and materials. While most artists become inspired by an idea and then decide on what medium to use; it is the material itself that inspires me. The materials I select dictate how they will be manipulated and what will be created," said Mackenzie. She used found objects, industrial materials and other things that have been cast away, such as metal screening from vents, discarded plastic sheeting used to cover lumber, hardwood floor installation, and scrap galvanized tin.

As a result of working on each piece of her project, Mackenzie described that for her artwork, "there really isnít a finish. I can always continue to create and experiment. There are endless possibilities when one uses this kind of medium." Through her project she was able to take these materials out of their original context and make people see the possibilities of each of the materials she used. A particularly interesting aspect of her show is the fact that the ways that her pieces are displayed may be changed based on space constraints. She is able to adapt her installations to the surroundings, which can therefore convey a whole new message each time they are displayed.

"This show has helped me to fully develop my artistic vision and what I want as an artist to accomplish in the future," said Mackenzie. When asked about her project, she said, "Honestly, my favorite part of my process was finding the materials. My Saturday mornings were spent scavenging local junkyards or salvage warehouses looking for materials that inspired me. My greatest challenge was to not overthink. There would be times when I would get stuck if I didnít listen to the materials so to speak."

Mackenzie plans on continuing to create art in hopes of showing it in galleries and developing a strong portfolio to use toward her admission into a graduate program to obtain a Masters degree in Fine Arts.

Our very own News-Journal Senior writer Katelyn Phelan is another senior about to complete her time here at the Mount. Her senior project is called "Breaking the Cycle." Her project focuses on the central tenants Buddhism, especially the emphasis on the inevitable suffering in life and the solution of detachment. Katelyn explained, "I was drawn to Buddhism because of its contrast with the American way of life, so that's certainly part of my message--that we tend to focus on material wealth, but happiness and contentment really comes from a simpler way of life and detachment from materials."

In Katelynís artist statement, she explains that she created a series of oil paintings that show "our choice in life, as Buddhism proposes. Three of the four small paintings show types of suffering in lifeóage, disease, and death." In explaining the pieces in her project, she said, "I have arranged and depicted these aspects of Buddhism so as to show the thematic differences. The small paintings of suffering are in dull, earthy colors. Suffering is not the path the enlightenment, rather, the Buddha and mandala are. By following the Buddha and ridding oneself of attachments, one achieves freedom from samsara or the cycle of life and suffering. Buddhism is the way to break the cycle."

Katelyn explained that endurance was one of the major things that she learned as a result of working on her senior project. Typically she can finish a work of art and then move on to something completely different, but with this project she had to base her entire body of works on a single theme. Deciding what to do for her project was a very important and difficult decision to make. "Picking the subject of my work was challenging, and it was something that was on my mind for months before I started," said Katelyn, but she is mostly excited that she gets to display what she described as "the culmination of not only this extensive project but also of four years of artwork at the Mount."

Katelyn has been very successful so far and will surely be successful after graduation, when she plans on continuing to make art for herself and for people she knows. She is considering pursuing mural painting, and Iím sure that she is a name to be on the lookout for in the future.

So with the end of the school year comes all of the stress, work, finals, and of course the yearning for summer vacation, but be sure to take the time to appreciate all of the hard work that these seniors, and all of the other seniors at the Mount, contributed to their projects. The past four years studying at the Mount have shaped them as students and as artists, and they have compiled their best works to show to their audiences. Their talent is inspirational to us all, and Iím sure they will be very successful as they pursue their dreams in the art world after graduation.

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke