Senior art show exhibits bring fine art, creativity to RMC, article, photos by Michaela Shifley

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The Ryniker-Morrison Gallery in Tech Hall began hosting its last art show of the semester on April 12, with the exhibit set to end on May 7. Appropriately dubbed the “Senior Show,” the gallery is showcasing a variety of fine art pieces from four graduating RMC seniors: Aileen Denny, Michaela Kirby, Megan Faulkner, and Cassandra Wallace.

Senior Megan Faulkner's acrylic works were inspired by a road trip she took.

Senior Megan Faulkner’s acrylic works were inspired by a road trip she took.

Each artist imbued their individual artworks with their own unique experiences and motivations. Senior Aileen Denny, of Billings, MT, said that her love of art and art conservation started as a young girl when she spent summers and weekends on the northern Cheyenne reservation with her father. “We were very poor,” she recalled of her early childhood years. “We had no cable, no air conditioning…sometimes I remember only eating mayonnaise sandwiches and seeing the fridge empty.” Denny described how she became fascinated with one of her father’s old art history books because it was the only one with pictures, and from there, her love of art only grew stronger.

Senior and Butte, MT, native Megan Faulkner says that art has also made a significant impact on her life, especially the knowledge that she has gained during her time at RMC. “The Moaks and Jim have helped bring out who I want to be as an artist and person,” she said. “They’ve been a huge influence on me and I truly don’t think I can thank them enough. I’m not even sure they realize how much they’ve impacted me.” Faulkner also gives credit to her two best friends for their guidance in acrylic painting. Without them, she stated, “I wouldn’t have had quality work to show.”

Denny said that her art show pieces were inspired by the pictographs at Pictograph State Cave Park. Having spent time there with her mother, Denny stated that the caves had special meaning to her. “I genuinely just wanted to do anything I could to help protect these images and teach people about the methods and history of the pictographs,” she said. Staying true to the historical methods of the original pictograph artists, Denny made or collected all of her own materials, and she even found local sandstone and ground it for paint.

Senior Aileen Denny made almost all of her painting materials.

Senior Aileen Denny made almost all of her painting materials.

Faulkner’s inspiration for her senior art show pieces was much different, but no less meaningful. “My inspiration for the paintings came from a recent trip to Great Falls,” she stated. “When I was driving up…we saw the most amazing sunset I’ve seen- the entire sky was lit up red and gold. So from there I knew exactly what I’d be painting. The bison and other subjects in the foreground are meant to invoke a sort of feeling of a bye-gone age.”

For each of the artists, the term “art” means something completely unique. For both Faulkner and Denny, the answer isn’t a simple one. “It’s something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately,” Faulkner said. “I guess for me art provides a way to express an aspect of myself that I can’t convey without someone really getting to know me.”

“Art to me, as an individual, has many different categories,” stated Denny. “My own art is a tool to help me hone my skills so they can be used to conserve art in the future.”

Check out the senior art show in tech hall open until May 7.

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