The senior exhibit of art major Cynthia Pratt of Woodstock, Ga., will be on display March 10 - 14, 2003, in the William W. Fincher Jr. and Eunice L. Fincher Visual Arts Center at Reinhardt College, Waleska, Ga. The opening reception will be Monday, March 10 beginning at 7 p.m. in the Fincher Visual Arts Center. The public is invited to enjoy the reception and exhibit.
Pratt began her studies in art because of "an incredible high school teacher who led her in that direction," she said. She was drawn to Reinhardt through her family; her grandfather, Louie Lathem, has long supported the school. She began attending Reinhardt in 1997 and will graduate on May 3 with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts.
Her thesis is inspired by Byzantine icons, which she saw during a study abroad trip to Crete in 2001. Her show, Symbolic Expressions, features paintings, drawings and intertwined pencils and oils.
"Icons are symbols that do not represent the man or woman but represent the symbolic stories or ideals in which their lives portrayed," Pratt said. "The small village Tuplu [in Crete], held thousands of religious artifacts including robes worn by the Popes, ornate hand-written Bibles, and paintings that depicted stories using imagery and symbols as teaching tools for those in the village or country who were illiterate (about the 95 percent of the population) to be able to understand the lessons in which the church thought were too important for the townsfolk to go without."
In Crete, Pratt bought postcards, including one small icon of the Mother and Child that she "could not leave the country of Greece without." Returning home she "immediately went to the studio and started painting the image of Christ with his hand raised in the air, his two fingers held up in something resembling the peace sign, and the book that he held to his left. This was more than a portrait of a person. This was a story, a message."
On her trip, Pratt also broadened her experience of viewing art. "I learned what I wanted the viewer to feel. I liked the feeling that I could pass a work of art by or stare at it for an hour. I liked knowing that I knew something about the subject matter before I went in so that I wouldn't feel duped like I have in the past with some of the more modern works -- There was no one telling me how I should feel or what I should gather from it. It was a take it or leave it experience, and I took my personal effects from it without feeling that I left anything behind."
Assistant Professor of Art T. Brett Mullinix has worked with Pratt for four years and speaks highly of her work and her progress as an artist. "I have seen Cindy develop into a dedicated and driven student of visual art," Mullinix said. "Her current body of work demonstrates her propensity for extensive research into the conceptual foundation of her imagery. It deals with traditional icon painting in a very contemporary and personal way. The strength of her drawing skills, combined with her strong sense of color, allow her to create images that are on one level easily accessible and on another level subjective investigations of the meaning of symbols. This exhibit is the culmination of over a year of dedicated visual exploration and demonstrates her readiness to move on to graduate studies."
Pratt plans to pursue graduate studies in mixed media painting at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro.
Professor of Art Curtis Chapman said each graduating senior in Reinhardt's fine arts degree program hosts an exhibit. He or she writes a summary statement about the show, designs a mailer to advertise the event, creates the artwork to be displayed, and designs and hangs the exhibit.
"The purpose of all this is get them ready to leave us as professional artists," Chapman said. "It is the capstone activity of their study, and their shows are always interesting, exciting and thought-provoking in a personal way."
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