Second year art students from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) have risen to the challenge to produce a stunning series of contemporary artworks titled ‘Still I Rise’ inspired by American poet Maya Angelou.
Fifteen students from the BA (Hons) Fine Art degree will showcase their work, which pays tribute to the acclaimed poet and activist, at an exhibition on P.S.S Wingfield Castle at the Museum of Hartlepool from 9 – 11 March.
The title ‘Still I Rise’ is taken from the poem of the same name by Maya Angelou – ‘Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I rise.’
The show comprises of photography, sculpture, moving image, painting, print making and installation, and reflects fifteen individual points of view and areas of research such as social and cultural history, feminism, subjectivity and psychoanalytical art.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, a private viewing will launch the exhibition on Thursday 8 March at an evening event for family and friends. As part of their degree studies, the students have developed and marketed the exhibition for their professional practice module, including curation of the exhibition, sourcing and liaising with the venue, fundraising and publicity.
The students have been working on their own personal pieces since October last year and are very excited to be putting on their first exhibition and showcasing their work to the public.
21-year old Ellie Green from Redcar will be exhibiting her lino printing and photography artwork which explores the right to roam, inspired through research on the Battle of the Beanfield and the reign of Margret Thatcher.
She said: “Through this research I became interested in the idea of van dwelling and living off grid, as this is something that has always interested me and I wanted to find out about the laws involved. I began looking at the criminal justice and public order act 1994, which states the laws and rights people of a nomadic habit of life have.”
Ellie also supported the exhibition by being part of the fundraising team, helping with a bake sale and making branded bags and t-shirts for the show. She continued: “I created a lino cutting that says ‘Still I Rise’ which I then printed onto t-shirts for the group to wear on the night of the exhibition, and tote bags which we have sold to raise money for the exhibition costs.”
The young artist, whose most inspirational woman is Tracey Emin, added: “Tracey inspires me because of her attitude towards what can be classed as art. She once said ‘its art because I said it is’ and while most people don’t agree with this, I do. I think that anything can be art that has meaning behind it, I don’t think there are any rules you should follow.”
For her collection, 19-year-old Amber Rushforth from Redcar explores photography and collage, challenging space and time through images from different angles and perspectives.
She said: “I have taken multiple photographs while moving around the subject to then combine them later in the studio on paper. The images do not fit together perfectly; I embrace this and celebrate alternative ways of describing reality.
“In the fundraising team I enjoyed helping to generate ideas and figuring out how to solve these problems practically. It was exciting watching the ideas become reality.”
Amber is looking forward to seeing her work in a different space outside of the studio and if the change will make her feel differently about her own work.
She added: “The whole class has been working in the shared studio space, but it will be interesting to view the final ideas. Watching everybody’s ideas shape into the work they are presenting is exciting. My parents will be coming to see my work so I am looking forward to them seeing my work for themselves instead of imagining what I describe to them. I want to know their opinions and ideas coming from people who are not involved in the art scene.
“I find my classmates inspiring; as we are all women I feel that we empower each other in the work space. We help each other push our ideas.”
20-year-old Natasha Pybus from Norton has created a large installation featuring a series of metal cubes welded together, all interlinked and placed in an ‘S’ shape curve to look like a chain.
Natasha said: “My aim was to define gravity, as the sculpture extends up and out from the bottom cube. I am inspired by minimalism and I like how the pieces associated with this style use the bare minimum in the pieces of work.
“I think my most inspirational female is either Michelle Obama or Emma Watson, as they both campaign for the rights of not just women but for everyone as well as focusing on specific agendas that are important to them. They are both inspirational women and use their celebrity status to do good things for others.
“I’m really looking forward to people seeing everyone’s work and that we get to show the public our work.”
19-year-old Chloe Adams from Norton has created pieces which explore the recent female sexual exploitation in the media, and is very much looking forward to the show.
She said: “The exhibition launching on International Woman’s Day has given me great inspiration to produce my work from. I have not taken part in a public exhibition before so this is a great opportunity for me to get my work out there for public viewing to hopefully create an audience which are interested in my work. I’m really excited that my friends and family will be attending to support me in my first show.”
Mature student Anita Sewell from Hartlepool has taken the natural material seal coal to create a series of sculptural forms, and helped to locate the P.S.S Wingfield Castle as a location for the exhibition.
She said: “The work has been created as a result of a memory, leading to research into the social and cultural history of Hartlepool. The shapes are intended as an homage to the people whose lives were a hard class struggle, in the 1950’s /60’s, whilst recognising those still working with this resource.”
Martina Mullaney, Fine Art Lecturer at CCAD, said: “‘Still I Rise’ is the culmination of months of hard for the students who have embraced this endeavour with enthusiasm. The exhibition is testament to their determination to succeed, their ability to work collectively and their resilience to see it through to the end. This is a great achievement on their part.”