At the end of each semester, the Missouri State University Art and Design Department hosts its Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Senior Exhibition. Located in Brick City in downtown Springfield, the exhibition gives seniors in the program a chance to showcase their art prior to graduation. 

According to director of exhibitions Jodi Lynn McCoy, Art and Design students must participate in the gallery to graduate. The work can be any form of art — including video games or performance pieces.

McCoy said this year’s exhibition will be the first since the COVID-19 pandemic with an in-person reception. The reception will take during May’s First Friday Art Walk on May 6.

While McCoy has been with the department for almost 10 years, she said this was one of her favorite BFA exhibitions to curate.

The Brick City Gallery will feature up to 21 students’ works, each one ranging from traditional to digital pieces. For one participant, it is a mixture of both.

Jeannette Hegger, senior digital arts major, is exhibiting four pieces in the gallery. They are “Pineapple Portrait,” “Mage on Broom,” “Stained Glass Fox” and “Bubble and Star Mountain.”

In order, they are self-portrait, character, mosaic and landscape pieces. Her main inspiration is unnatural; for example, her piece “Bubble and Star Mountain” is a volcano with bubbles emerging instead of lava.

Hegger originally worked with traditional art, but when she started using a tablet for drawing, it allowed her to create art digitally.

“My BFA projects are my way of displaying this idea of translating traditional fine art skills into a digital experience,” Hegger said. “My drive to create with different digital styles is rooted in my interests in TV shows and games.”

Hegger said while she had some setbacks such as sickness during her production period, she was glad to have been able to finish.

The  Art and Design Department also partners with the Springfield Art Museum for the Masters in Fine Arts Visual Studies Exhibition, held at the museum proper. One of the two MSU graduate students participating this year is Haley Biere.

Biere’s piece is titled  “Ouroboros,” an installation at the Springfield Art Museum at 1111 E. Brookside Drive. The piece is their thesis statement, a “taste test” of what it is like exhibiting in a museum professionally and is specifically tailored to Missouri audiences.

Biere said the piece’s biggest inspiration was their childhood here in Missouri. They used found materials such as barn wood and chicken wire to help create a “rustic” feel and enable the pieces to keep being used.

“A lot of my materials that I have in my work are found objects, as the history of each is important to me,” Biere said. “The history of the wear-and-tear tells a story. And a lot of these objects would be cast aside or thrown away, and I want to add on to the story.”

Each piece highlights the installation’s motifs: gender norms, how norms blend together and how it is up to the individual to tell their own story, Biere said.

Biere plans on moving to Colorado following graduation. They said boulders and stones are a huge inspiration, and the mountains will enable them to change the focus of “Ouroborus” from Missouri to the Centennial State.

Biere said their goal with the arts as a whole is to be a bridge between the queer and heterosexual communities.

“So it’s a constant balancing act of, how much do I want to reveal myself to others?” Biere said. “And it’s my goal eventually to be in a place and in a situation where I don’t have to hide at all.”

The BFA exhibition runs April 27-May 13. The MFA Exhibition runs May 7-13. Information on the galleries, times and past exhibits can be found on the MSU Brick City Gallery website and the SAM calendar of events.

Follow Tinsley Merriman on Twitter, @merrimantinsley

Subscribe to The Standard's free weekly newsletter here.