The upcoming "Department of Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Projects Exhibition" at the OSU Urban Arts Space may not feature as many student artists as the one in the spring (14 in the former versus 40-plus in the latter). But the diversity of work and the ideas behind them showcase a talented crop of artists moving from the educational environment to a real-world setting. The goal of this exhibit, besides having the work in a public setting, is to give these students the full experience of showing in a professional gallery, something many of them will be doing in the near future.

The upcoming “Department of Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Projects Exhibition” at the OSU Urban Arts Space may not feature as many student artists as the one in the spring (14 in the former versus 40-plus in the latter). But the diversity of work and the ideas behind them showcase a talented crop of artists moving from the educational environment to a real-world setting. The goal of this exhibit, besides having the work in a public setting, is to give these students the full experience of showing in a professional gallery, something many of them will be doing in the near future.

“At this point, they also take a class where they have to write and develop an artist’s statement. So they’re really thinking about, ‘What is my voice? What is my body of work? What direction am I heading?’” said Merijn van der Heijden, the deputy director of exhibitions and curatorial practice at Ohio State.

While the academic approach helped these young artists focus the concepts and thought processes behind the work, it in no way limited the breadth to which these artists are presenting.

“There really is a wide-range of things,” van der Heijden said. “Some of them are more formal or use a sight-specific space. Others have very specific narratives and stories in mind that they’d like to tell or retell. I’m interested that some people are working in a world of illusions, whether that’s landscapes or [another] settings. And they’re all very talented.”

The “BFA Senior Project Exhibition” is defined by its variety. Some pieces are poignant — on both a personal level and working within a larger context — and even sad. Others are abstract and open to many interpretations.

Some, like Tala Catrene Kanani’s two pieces “Choking Hazard” and “CAKE,” are whimsically fun upon first viewing, but offer more complexity as well. Ty Carroll’s wildly vibrant and entrancing prints of imaginary landscapes are some of the most visually appealing art in the entire exhibit. And Aaron Thompson’s sculptures — a couple featuring mouths with one actually blowing lavender-scented breath — represent some of the finest craftsmanship in the collection.

While the art in the BFA exhibition has many bright, colorful and downright delightful elements, the darker works carry the most weight and stick with the viewer longer.

Some of the more thought-provoking and provocative works are borne out of tragedy. Rachael Fultz is drawn to trees for her subject matter, but while researching she found a horrific past involving her muse. Prior to 1908, Lynching Postcards — yeah, it’s exactly as disgusting as it sounds — were mailed in the United States. The images contained a swinging, burnt corpse with something along the lines of, “Welcome to the Lone Star State. This is the barbecue we had last night.”

Fultz’s artist statement says she became “unhinged” by these graphic atrocities when she saw them at a traveling exhibit in Cincinnati. So she traveled to Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and more to visit the trees used in these deplorable acts, and drew them as they are today; simple, tranquil, but inundated by a history of violence.

Another powerful piece is the video installation by Alexandra D’Astolfo. D’Astolfo was raped when she was 14, and per her artist statement, “kept every object from that night and that person.” She tried to turn her tragedy into art, but it never worked.

So for her installation piece, she re-created all the art produced out of that night, but altered each piece to contain an image of Harry Styles from One Direction. D’Astolfo’s goal is to have “a non-threatening male form through which to explore the innocent sexuality I was deprived of.”

Making this piece even more powerful and personal, the video components, projected on two walls, is a live web feed of the pieces in D’Astolfo’s home to show that she no longer has to live with the man who raped her. Instead, she lives with Harry.

photos courtesy of the OSU Urban Arts Space