Senior solo exhibition focuses on bringing others joy

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 at 5:12 PM
Senior solo exhibition focuses on bringing others joy by Hazel Modlin
Gabrielle Smith stands by the title wall of her gallery. | Photo: Hazel Modlin

From Jan. 13-17, Edinboro senior Gabrielle Smith held her solo exhibition, “Finding Joy,” at Bates Gallery. Her work is multimedia, but the exhibit mainly highlights her metalworking talents. Her pieces feature depictions of objects that bring her joy, and she hopes they imbue the same feeling in her viewers.

As the title of her exhibition says, Smith’s theme is inspired by her desire to find joy in life. “I want to help others remember to look at the little things in life, like seeing an animal or just daydreaming,” she explained.

Her focus on the little things comes from her experience with journaling.

“I was once invited to write a gratitude journal. So I had to write down, each day, what I was grateful for. And I started doing that and it helped me remember the little things that were important, which helped me find my joy.”

Smith’s exhibition is unique in the sense that her viewers have the ability to interact with it. Next to the usual guest book for individuals to sign, a jar of pennies sits that invites visitors to “take a penny for their thoughts.”

She mentioned, “I also have stars on the door frame so people can write or draw what brings them joy, and hang them up on the door frame.” Her stars are connected to her main exhibition through her pastel color scheme.

Within her exhibition, Smith’s pieces are made from a variety of materials, some of which include metal, enamel, wire and plexiglass, plus techniques like wood screen-printing.

While she enjoys trying all sorts of materials, she likes metal the most. “I have a concentration in metals, so that’s my favorite. But I also have a minor in illustration and printmaking.” Her printmaking pieces are displayed on the wall on the fronts of two T-shirts.

Smith’s favorite piece is one of her more recent ones, even using it for her exhibition fliers. “Head in the Clouds” is a copper piece with an enamel picture of a person floating away and holding balloons. The copper is surrounded by a border made of plexiglass.

Smith reveals that “it was my first time working with enamel — which is like a type of glass — so the balloons are made of little chunks of glass that were then melted onto the metal to create the full image. I’m giving in to color more, so I really enjoy that the enamel allows me to do that with this piece and it kind of incorporates the theme of finding the joy in just a daydream.”

In order to be granted an exhibition at Bates Gallery, student artists have to apply for one a semester before they plan to display their work.

Smith said, like all aspiring exhibitions, her work went before a student jury where she had to submit 10 images of her pieces so the jury could vote on whether or not she should be granted a spot. Each member of the jury then gave her a number from 1-10, and the artists with the highest scores were allowed to choose a week in the spring to display their work.

The advice Smith gives aspiring artists is to “find what inspires you and whatever motivates you to keep making art, because once you find your niche, what you really enjoy, that’s what is going to help you keep going.”

Additional Photos:

Gabrielle Smith stands by the title wall of her gallery. | Photo: Hazel ModlinHead in the Clouds by Smith. | Photo: Hazel ModlinOphthalmosaurus created by Smith. | Photo: Hazel Modlin

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