2021 Senior Art Show: Chaos, Order and the Mundane

Posted on April 06, 2021 by Abby May

Senior studio art majors Lily Peterson and Nora Florio

The 2021 senior studio art majors, Lily Peterson and Nora Florio, have been hard at work creating their pieces for the Senior Art Show. The exhibition in Benedict Gallery opened on April 4 and runs through May 5. A special opening reception will take place on April 8, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to celebrate our talented studio art majors.

“The name of the exhibition, ‘Chaos, Order and the Mundane,’ marks the return of the in-person gallery senior exhibition after last year’s absence,” says art professor Laura Pharis. “Of course, the title grew from the pandemic we have all been enduring, but Nora Florio said ‘also, it’s like us.’ When it was suggested, this title instantly rose above all the other contenders. It reads as clear-eyed, resourceful and perhaps sequential.”

Senior Art Show 2021

“These students have put in hours and years of work in Sweet Briar’s art studios,” says Laura. “Majoring in studio art requires a commitment to becoming acquainted with a range of techniques and media and then choosing one or more particular mediums to explore in-depth. As artists, this is where they want to be and what they want to be doing.”

The world needs art right now,” Laura continues. “These two young artists have needed grit and resourcefulness to get this far, and I look forward to seeing them continue to use the strength they honed in the past year as they share their creativity with all of us going forward.”

Featured Artists

Nora Florio ’21
Nora Florio

Artist statement:

Hi, my name’s Nora Deane Florio and I’ve been compared to a cat at least three times this week, and it’s only Tuesday. I paint because I love the feel of my brush against the canvas with thick oil paint covering the tip. I can’t really smell the turpentine or the paint anymore, because I am so used to it. But sometimes when I have been away from my paints for a while, I catch the scent, and I’m immediately wrapped in a sense of comfort. I like to choose things to paint that are fun to make and the funniest part of the painting is doing the small detail.

Memories, oil on canvas
The purpose of my painting is to evoke feeling, recognition of something familiar to the viewer or emotions.
As far as technique is concerned, I use my liner brush whenever I get the chance (when I’m not using the splatter technique). I enjoy painting the textures, colors and details of trees, landscapes, water and butterflies.

My painting plays with perspective, sometimes. Through my use of different perspectives, I hope to suggest an atmosphere of a moment in time. I love to create using any medium; I just fall towards oil more often (when I am not falling towards the ground or running into walls).

Lily Peterson ’21
Lily Peterson

Artist statement:

I am an artist from Ashland, Va., who works with a variety of different mediums, with a specific background in photography and drawing. As a child, I found that I always wanted to be actively doing something with my hands, whether it be playing an imaginary piano or shredding paper. I found that drawing gave me a sense of physical tranquility that also appeased my perfectionist and meticulous nature. I later supplemented these skills by beginning photography, which gave me the opportunity to be more in the moment by being hyper-aware of my surroundings and potential artistic opportunities behind the lens. My photography has historically focused on equestrian-related subjects such as riding events, portraits and candid from everyday barn life. In both my drawings and photography, I have often focused on the importance of light sources in these outdoor depictions. Working with unpredictable natural lighting has given me the chance to refine both my technical and artistic skills.

Suspension, oil on canvas
At Sweet Briar, I found an added affinity for oil and watercolor paints and the skills behind manipulating those mediums. I find it important to take all of my reference photos myself in order for my paintings to be as original as possible. Aesthetics are always a factor in my work, and bright color schemes, clear sources of light, and high contrasts are often found in my pieces. I prefer to paint, draw or photograph real scenes I have witnessed in Virginia and the angles and focus points I witness from them. These real-life aesthetic experiences inspire me to create similar viewpoints through these mediums that others may enjoy as well. I approach every new piece with a sense of appreciation and fulfillment from my experiences at Sweet Briar and beyond, and know a piece is finished when I can recognize that exact moment clearly. I imagine every one of my works as extensions of myself — a piece of self-identity with moments that vary from passing a fleeting landscape to looking in a literal mirror.