Rain pitter-patters on the window as colorful portraits, animated short films and handmade sculptures fill the space of Brick City East Gallery.

The works of nine student artists — Missouri State University class of 2020 bachelor’s in fine arts graduates — are currently featured at Brick City Gallery for the Celebratory BFA Exhibition.

The exhibition, which opened Oct. 2, features painting and drawing, ceramics, sculpture, animation, design and photography.

Due to COVID-19, the seniors’ traditional exhibition was canceled. However, the department did offer a virtual exhibition in the spring. The virtual exhibition, BFA Art Senior Exhibition Spring 2020, can be viewed here.

Jodi McCoy, Brick City Gallery director of exhibitions, said she helped facilitate the virtual gallery but knew she wanted to carve out space during the fall program to feature the students’ work in-person.

“We sent out an open call to all the graduates from the spring 2020 BFA art and design class,” McCoy said. “Many of the students had moved back home or onto graduate programs and were unable to participate. While we completely understand, we are absolutely delighted for the students who were able to return and exhibit in the gallery.”

Students featured in the exhibition include:

  •  Rebecca Albers, design
  •  Trevor Doell, painting
  • Claire Lednicky, digital photography
  •  Kate Lindsey, digital photography
  • Nicole Manhart, animation
  •  Danielle Mertens, digital photography
  •  Jaden Rodriguez, sculpture
  •  Liv Smith, sculpture
  •  Christian Summers, animation

Jaden Rodriguez, who graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts with an emphasis in 3-D studies, said his piece featured in the celebratory exhibition isn’t the one he had been working on for his senior show, but a new piece entirely. 

Rodriguez’s original project was a six-foot tall wave made of old toys, expanding foam and chicken wire.

Jaden Rodriguez BFA closeup

A six-foot wave, made of childhood toys, expanding form and chicken wire, made up Jaden Rodriguez's senior BFA project. Rodriguez created the wave during COVID-19 lockdown and was able to transport it to Brick City Gallery for photos and a final critique. However, Rodriguez ended up making an entirely new project, using the same technique, for this work in the Celebratory BFA Exhibition, which is open until Friday, Nov. 6.

“My work depicts old childhood toys and objects given new form,” Rodriguez’s artist statement reads. “The wave is covered in toys, ones I played with growing up and have fond memories with. It reflects my happiest moments in childhood: playtime. But as its own entity, it’s also standing as if confrontational.

I worry about the future situations I’m sure to have in life so much that it triggers my strongest forms of anxiety. Just like growing up and taking on the role deemed for me as an adult is intimidating, so is leaving behind the safety of childhood.”

Rodriguez said he created the wave at home, during lockdown and was able to transport it back to Brick City Gallery for photos and final critiques.

“However, when informed they would not be able to have a show for seniors after all, I ended up not being able to transport it down and decided to create a new piece using the same methods for this specific show,” Rodriguez said.

Jaden Rodriguez BFA Bird

Jaden Rodriguez’s sculpture, made of childhood toys and expanding foam, sits in the middle of Brick City East Gallery for the Celebratory BFA Exhibition, open until Friday, Nov. 6. Originally, Rodriguez created a six-foot tall wave made of toys and foam for his senior project. But, due to COVID-19, he ended up creating his new, separate piece for the exhibition.

Despite the change in plans, Rodriguez said he appreciates all the art and design department has done for the graduates, including this exhibition spotlight.

The Celebratory BFA Exhibition will remain on display until Friday, Nov. 6.

Brick City Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., late nights on Thursday until 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Brick City Gallery’s next exhibition will feature the Missouri State fall 2020 BFA students in art and design.