Growing up in rural New Jersey, senior Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) student John Traub developed a fascination with urban transit and interaction. Applying this intrigue to his artwork, Traub created "Transpire Spaces," one of several thesis art projects currently featured in the Snite Museum's 2011 Annual UND Art Student Exhibition.
The exhibition, which opened April 3, is held in the Milly & Fritz Kaeser Mestrovic Studio Gallery and the O'Shaughnessy Gallery West. It will feature the final projects of the 2011 art studio degree candidates until May 22.
The exhibition features artworks in industrial and graphic design, photography and painting.
Traub said his project is inspired by where he spent his childhood.
"My project is a vision of sidewalk spaces for public transit featuring cloud media represented on physical surfaces," he said. "The subject of the project, socializing and urban culture, really represents my childhood of living in rural New Jersey but having close access to New York City."
Charlotte Lux, a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) student in industrial design, drew inspiration from her family's history with breast cancer for her project.
The need to gain insight on her project led Lux out of the studio and into active fieldwork at Memorial Regional Breast Care Center in South Bend, she said. Through extensive hours shadowing nurses, interviewing individuals and undergoing a mammogram at a local imaging center, Lux said she was able to analyze all the steps in the biopsy procedure.
"Stepping into the patient's shoes gives the designer a sense of empathy for what patients experience, making it easier to address their needs through design interventions," she said. "It gave me a firsthand account of the… awkward moments a patient goes through."
Lux said her project proposes solutions to improve key components in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer. The work emphasizes the importance of nurse-patient information exchange, the patient gown, visual focal points in the room and the table on which the patient lies on for the biopsy procedure, she said.
While Traub and Lux drew inspiration for their artwork from personal experience, other students confronted broad social issues.
Joseph Small, who is pursuing an M.F.A. in photography for studio art, said his project, "Unbearable Whiteness of Being," exhibits artwork investigating racial identity politics.
"It deals with what whiteness is, how we deal with that and who is labeled that or not within our social construct," he said.
Small said studying at Notre Dame has exposed him to a greater variety of art forms than just his area of expertise.
"Having interactions with faculty in different areas and access to an amazing library system has really changed how I think," he said. "I came as a traditionalist photographer, but I'm leaving here making paintings, sculptures and audio too."
Following graduation, Small said he hopes to pursue a career in education. He said he also hopes to continue to produce thought-provoking artwork.
"I will keep making art though. I honestly can't stop doing that," Small said. "I just hope what I do starts a conversation and gets people to talk about how they deal with these topics."
Lux said working on her project has steered her career toward research. Firsthand experience, she said, brought her project into the real world from the academic realm.
"Spending time with the patients and staff and seeing the procedure in person was an invaluable part of the process," Lux said. "It made the design problem more tangible than a merely hypothetical academic design project."
After viewing the exhibition, Traub said he would like to congratulate his mentors and fellow students for their outstanding work.
"I have to thank the Industrial Design program for always overcoming the adversity of being somewhat neglected in terms of campus exposure and recognition," he said. "It's produced a Midwest Merit Winner four out of the past five years, and Notre Dame's representative has been considered the strongest in the entire Midwest in terms of portfolio."