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The Arts Scene

Mount art at its finest

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(5/2012) Well, Emmitsburg, the month of May is upon us. Whether this school year seemed to drag on for eternity or go faster than the blink of an eye, we are preparing for the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The Mount Saint Mary’s students are slowly but surely packing up their belongings. Walls are becoming bare as decorations come down. Students are already groaning at the thought of the long nights in the library that await them, when they will try to cram countless pages of study guides into their already overloaded brains, hoping for one last chance to boost their GPA’s. But as we prepare for the school year to end, it is important that we highlight the artistic accomplishments of some standout students at the Mount.

The fascinating thing about the arts is the passion that they bring forth in their students. Senior Jeff Valonis is a prime example of this. Jeff chose to be an art major because he has always loved art. He explained, "I have always known that I want a job dealing somehow with art because I'll be able to wake up and be excited about my day. Majoring in art was an early start to this."

One of the highlights of the art major at the Mount is the senior project. Jeff’s senior show focuses on how his past has influenced his present. He explained that the inspiration for this concept actually came from his Moral Theology class with Mount professor Dr. Cloutier. Because of some introspection he did for this class, Jeff was able to develop this reflective and insightful theme for his artwork. Jeff explained, "Working on the paintings, as well as trying to figure out all the details for the show, is time consuming but also very rewarding." It is an experience that enabled him to utilize his studies from the past few years and also challenge himself in terms of his artistic ability and creativity.

Looking back on his four years at the Mount, Jeff noted that, although he enjoys his Graphic Design classes, Life Drawing was his favorite art class. He admitted that figure drawing was always a challenge for him. The Life Drawing course challenged him and helped him improve his figure drawing skills so much that he chose to make all of the paintings for his senior project figurative. After graduating this year and completing a summer job, Jeff hopes to work in graphic design. We wish Jeff the best of luck and look forward to seeing his work in future years.

Another prominent tradition at the Mount is the Lighted Corners literary magazine, which is an annual publication that is devoted to art, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and photography by Mount Saint Mary’s University students. Students are involved in the entire publication process, from start to finish. The publication has received awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the American Scholastic Press Association. I had the pleasure of getting to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of the literary magazine thanks to Arts Editor Teresa Fredericks and Editor-in-Chief Karolina Gajdeczka.

Regarding her position as the Arts Editor, Teresa said, "I've really enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere between the editors and staff, and I feel like I've been able to make a meaningful contribution to the arts community at the Mount. I know that Lighted Corners was a major reason why I came to the Mount, so I like to think of it that way, that I'm helping to influence how people see the Mount."

She described that the main goal of the Lighted Corners publication is "to give stellar artists and authors the chance to be published, but also to raise awareness about the incredible talent at the Mount!" She explained that talented writers and artists could be found in many places that one would not necessarily expect, and she wants the Mount campus to "take pride in and support these incredibly creative people." Her role as the Arts Director of the publication has helped develop her own skills as an artist in that it has given her a better editorial eye. Art of course involves subjectivity, so Teresa admitted, "Some pieces I adore, but I also have to accept that I'm not just making the magazine for myself. I have to consider my audience and the printing process while also staying true to my own artistic vision for the magazine. It's kind of like recognizing the interdependence of process, audience, artist, and editor."

Karolina Gajdeczka is the Editor-in-Chief of the publication, and when describing her role, she said, "It has been both challenging and rewarding to work on Lighted Corners. I have had to make a lot of decisions regarding what's best for the staff and the magazine. Creating the magazine has been an incredible process. I would definitely say that watching everything come together after months of hard work in the last weeks before the magazine was sent to print was the most rewarding part that made all the challenges worth it."

The process of creating the publication is indeed complicated, but it is a process that is enjoyable and gratifying. The submissions come from both students and staff, and the entries are chosen in a double-blind voting process. They remove all names from the entries and vote for them by number and category. That way, the authors or artists of the works are anonymous as well as the voters themselves, and the names of those who are chosen are not revealed until after final decisions are made. The editors then compile the votes and make the final selections. Following the selection process, everything is edited, formatted, and arranged within the publication.

Karolina, Teresa, and Olivia Tyfa, the Design Editor, make the majority of the decisions when it comes to the layout and overall compilation of the magazine. Teresa admits that her favorite part of the process is the formatting because she enjoys arranging and designing the magazine. They have to take signatures and print guidelines into account to determine which pages can be printed in color or black and white, but once they have done that, she says they can "go in and play with font, page design, paper, and color."

The Lighted Corners staff was ecstatic to have such a variety of entries this year. For the first time in terms of the written content, they have creative nonfiction in their publication in addition to the regular genres of poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. As for the art, there is digital and film photography, drawing, painting, and even a wide variety of print media, including woodblock, collagraph, and dry point. The themes of the works are also very diverse, and Teresa refers to them as a "great sampling of the art community" at the Mount. There are some abstract pieces, surrealism, still-lives, nudes, landscapes, and travel photography.

Both Teresa and Karolina have big goals ahead of them, which have grown even further as a result of their work with Lighted Corners. Teresa would love to work on a community project such as one like Lighted Corners. She said, "I used to just want to go into museum work, but this semester I've had a lot of experiences that have really convinced me that I want to work to simply help people. Whether that's helping undiscovered talent get published or whether that's bringing art to underprivileged kids, I want to use art to empower people." As for Karolina, she plans to apply for graduate programs in Creative Writing after her time here at the Mount. She is also interested in pursuing a career in publications. Karolina said, "Working on Lighted Corners has made me fall in love with it."

It’s amazing how much of an impact we can have on art, and how much of an impact art can have on us, as well. Stay creative, Emmitsburg!

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke