Senior Exhibition: Ralph Diya and Harper Hazen
On the evening of April 11, students eagerly ushered their way into the art gallery on the top floor of Harrigan Hall for this much anticipated display of personal angst and emotional authenticity. Determining to highlight the things that many don’t notice on the surface, two artists, Ralph Diya (senior, graphic design) and Harper Hazen (BFA ‘16, Visual Arts), showcased their senior theses focusing on the things and emotions unseen by many.
“I’m Okay” by Ralph Diya:
“I’m okay,” are the words we normally hear when asking our friends how they are doing in passing. Yet, most of the time that phrase is used to cover up the deeper struggles each individual faces privately. Diya’s exhibit entitled “I’m Okay” attempted to bring to light to the neglect, abuse, anxiety and depression faced by a large number of students and empower others through showing the interconnectedness of each person’s unique struggles and own methods for survival.
Diya’s exhibit featured a compelling collection of 31 black and white portraits of students whose mouths were covered with tape and on each tape strip was a mantra they would tell themselves during their lowest points. Making use of lighting to highlight the emotions shown in each subject’s face in conjunction with the monochrome theme of his portraits, Diya created a moving tribute to his own experiences with emotional neglect and his own journey to cope with his struggles.
“What drove me to make this work was my own experience,” Diya said during his exhibition, “I have always been driven by the idea that I should do better and get better to make the people around me happy never realizing that I am already not happy. I was pushed and manipulated and finally coming to terms with that motivated me to create this project.”
Seeing the vulnerability of each face in Diya’s exhibit succeeded in conveying a message of emotional authenticity and healing that drove his piece. Moreover, being able to talk to each portrait subject who was in attendance, brought a degree of reality and depth to Diya’s show. Hearing their own stories of hurt and healing ultimately made each picture more real and personal.
When asked about his thoughts on people’s reactions on his completed work, Diya said,
“Honestly I feel a lot better now that it's finished, but deep inside I still want my work to go out and help those who have been struggling with their own abuses. I am amazed that people opened up to me after seeing my work because I have always wanted my work to reach out to people.”
“Tempered Soul” by Harper Hazen:
Throughout the course of any individual’s personal experience, we are forced to mentally adapt to the world around us. Sometimes this adaptation takes places in moments of trauma, and other times it is simply in moments of strife and hardship. The innate human response of these circumstances is that of resilience.
This exhibit consisted of four conceptually driven self-portraits which revolve around this response mechanism. Each frame was a masterpiece of intimacy attempt to actualize the internal conflict that often results in insecurities, childhood baggage and the like. Hazen combines the human and the object, resulting in the as a symbol for a tempered soul.
One of the most compelling attributes of the display is the emphasis on the abstract nature of the self.
Often times the more personal an artist becomes with his work, the more universally relatable and understood the work becomes.
“Psychology has always interested me, and underlines every work as rehabilitation and projection,” Hazen said. His moving images were each assemblages of human and more industrial objects.