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Regier Gallery's last exhibit of year has work of four seniors

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Four Bethel College seniors who will be graduating this spring or summer are now displaying their work in the annual Senior Art Exhibit.

The show opened April 29 in the Regier Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center with graphic design by Sondra Buller, Henderson, Nebraska; jewelry by Xi Cheng, Shanghai, China; mixed-media photos and ceramics by Erin Doerksen, Newton; and prints by Claire McStravick, Dallas.

Buller’s degree is in graphic design and business administration. The other three will have degrees in art, with Cheng adding business administration as well.

Buller had her first exposure to graphic design in high school. “Even though I had no experience, I entered college knowing that it was what I wanted to work toward as a major,” she said.

“One of my favorite things about graphic design is the ability to play. Working on the computer allows you to try one thing after another, to branch off something you created in the past, or to start from scratch. There is an ephemeral quality to computer-generated work that appeals to me.

“When I started to brainstorm ideas for this project, I thought about a branding project for a small-town diner. The diner in my hometown recently went out of business. This project represents what I would do if I reopened the business.”

Cheng began making jewelry when she took a class at Bethel with David Long, professor of art.

“I am fascinated by the variety of ways to turn a simple, flat copper or silver sheet into a gorgeous piece of jewelry,” she said. “I experimented with different techniques, such as sawing, enamel and lost-wax casting.

“The use of jewelry ranges from a simple decoration, that lights up a daily outfit, to a symbol of social class and wealth, worn for a formal banquet. Each of my designs conveys a personal sentiment, while telling a story and enhancing treasured memories. The art of transforming raw materials into something as personal yet practical as jewelry brings unlimited possibilities to an artist.”

Doerksen said of her photography, “I have always enjoyed noticing the little things and how intricate they can truly be. I wanted to take things one step further by adding a layer of repeating patterns to my images, but I didn’t want to draw away from the organic side. I found inspiration in natural settings to create this added layer.”

Since she has been working with ceramics at Bethel, she said, her work “has grown tremendously.

“It has a variety of forms, with patterns pulled from henna mandalas as well as a few social media artists. My eye is drawn towards pattern and symmetry and that is something I tried to bring into all of my work.”

McStravick said in her prints she “attempted to use repetition and line to demonstrate the ordered chaos that surround symbolic characters in my life, such as the Guardian or the Scapegoat.

“At first, I looked at these characters as individuals, loosely connected through my own interest in their lives and backgrounds. As I spent more time developing them, I began to understand that they resembled the different facets of my own personality. These archetypal figures all demonstrate some quality I strive to either bury or exemplify: prideful or warrior; chaos or order.

“I look at this series through two lenses: first, the formal language of art, involving the elements and principals of design, and second, my own emotional journey. By finding and developing these characters that I believed to be a possible standard for social groups, I was finding new expressions of my own humanity.”

The Senior Art Show is open through May 22. The artists’ reception, to which the public is invited, will be part of Commencement Weekend activities, May 20 from 7-9 p.m. outside the gallery.

The seniors are students of David Long, Rachel Epp Buller, associate professor of visual art and design, and Pam Pancake, assistant professor of visual art and design.

Regular gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Extra hours for commencement weekend are Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.