Fine Arts Seminar (Houghton College)

thinking critically and building community around art and design

Damien Guilly By Leah Mailloux

This artist spoke to me personally because he dealt with mediums with in my major. He started out with Graphic Design, then went on to study video and animation. With these as his foundation, Damien went on to work with architectural designs and illusions. His work was not only exhibited nationally, He has installed his work all over the world!! What I liked post about his presentation is that, while talking about his work, he talks about how each project tells a story. One of is projects refers to the financial collapse in Berlin; he called this “Cashier Fatigue”

His work, whether its his starting projects or the projects he creates later on, are influences by old video games and digital elements; simple illusions and utopic drawings. 

All in all, David Guilly has really inspired me and made me want to create things as brilliant as he did.

Kyle Stevenson by Rebecca Dygert

Kyle Stevenson, a very talented artist and accomplished alum of Houghton College, spoke about his journey as an artist and the progression of his work since his time as a student. He spoke quite a bit about the greats who’ve inspired him, including but not limited to John Singer-Sargent, Alex Kanevsky, and James Whistler. He mentioned at one point during his presentation that the greats gave him “permission” to make his work. This statement was powerful to me, and one worth expounding.


In studying art history, it is indisputably obvious that each art movement begets the next. As the decades and centuries wore on, art pushed boundaries. The market changed, wars began and ended, nations rose up and crumbled, and art continued to respond and evolve. The  post-impressionist emerged as a response and rebellion to the impressionists. Dada came from disdain and anger toward WWI and the Weimar Republic. Art begets art, and Kyle Stevenson both knew and took great advantage of this. He strove to paint like each of his favorite artists at different points in his life, going through his own “movements” so to speak. By using those great artists as his lens, he was able to grow in and through his own work.


Stevenson took the inspiration from those artists and created things that were new and fresh. At first, they served as his identity- he felt the only way he could consider himself an artist was if he could create like those historic men and women. Eventually though, without even realizing it, he was making completely independent work. It was work inspired by history, but molded into something new, something only artists of the past could have permitted. Kyle Stevenson showed me why it is important not only to have an understanding of art’s progression through time, but to also pay attention to the artists that touch us. This is something the students here, myself included, too often forget or take for granted.

anthony petrillo

        I’m really excited I got lucky enough to blog on Alice. When I was young my mother use to do ceramics in the art building here before she had her own studio. That was during the same time Alice was a student here, since that time I have heard many positive things about her and am lucky enough to have a few of her earlier pieces in my house. Getting to hear her story and progression into what she is working on now and has accomplished was really interesting and encouraging. I was most interested in the way she acquires inspiration. She is very directly inspired by her surrounding atmosphere, architecture design and patterns that she sees everyday as opposed to a group of artists she looks up to. I think that is a more effective way to come up with original work. I was also impressed by how well she juggles a family with a small child and her art work as well as teaching. It always encouraging to hear about people you have a connection being successful even if you don’t really know them it makes it seem more real, and possible.  

Brandon Waybright by Carrolin Jackson

From the very beginning, Brandon Waybright was energetic, vibrant, and fascinating when he came to visit and guest lecture for the Fine Arts Seminar class back in February. You knew, immediately, that he was passionate and on fire for his work and his place in the world. He began his talk with illustrating how important and influential the place you grew up in becomes in your work, and makes itself present as time goes on. I loved how he shared with us his first memory of visiting a museum at the age of nineteen, and how one look at a van Gogh painting changed the very way he saw. He explained to us, in detail, his goals for himself in life, and in his work. There were five rules:

1. Create the surprise in the everyday
2. Amplify the unspoken and the unusual
3. Awaken the public by disrupting the expected
4. Facilitate moments of community
5. Find strange people and celebrate them

Brandon shared with us his journey from graphic design and promotion to bookmaking and combining the visual with written word, until finally discovering one of the most fascinating things in his life: the power of scent. From that point on, he delved into a whole new body of work; exploring the archival properties of scent, evoking memories, creating a scent diary, the possibilities of creating entirely new scents by simply mixing two, and even charting and mapping the world by scent. It was a project that consumed the vast majority if his time, energy, and fascination, and altered the course of the rest of his journey all the way up to the present day. He became enraptured with Synesthesia, a condition that crosses signals to the brain from each of the senses, resulting in people who can taste colors, or see feelings, for example. His major senior thesis revolved around fully experiencing a color; the smell of it, the taste of it, the sound of it, and the feeling of it. Through his work he found a way to delve into every property of a color, encouraging people to find the missing connections between the things that are very nearly there. “Almost. Always. Nearly. There.” he says. He fiercely loves encountering something that he fully doesn’t understand, so that he may whole heatedly delve into it. He spoke also of how the digital world has drastically changed the way we create, view, share, and experience art, loosing a part of our spirituality every time a bit of our life is transferred digitally.

Aside from asserting that he desperately wished he had Synesthesia himself, Brandon left us with one last final message; that he absolutely loves loosing control during the creation of his work. He points out that that at some point during its creation, the work becomes its own being, and when you let go, you give God the opportunity to come in and make His own mark. When you let go, the unexpected may happen.

Having Brandon speak to us was a true delight. He brought a refreshing and vibrant new take on what art can be in our lives, and how we can truly connect with our world, our senses, and our Creator, by just looking at the world a little differently and challenging the norm. I hope to always carry with me his enthusiasm and passion in my own life, and in the life of the work I create.

-Carrolin Jackson

Kyle Stevenson

Kyle’s work fascinated me because of his self-determination and desire to perfect certain techniques. Most of my admiration stems from an appreciation of those who can paint well as it isn’t my forte. I found it interesting to see how his work progressed from the time that he was at Houghton up to the current year. It always piques my curiosity to see how an artist moves from one theme to another and how they choose to enhance and refine their skills. In this particular case, Kyle’s perseverance to capture the aura and presence of light in a more tangible way has been inspirational to me. I have difficulty in this particular area of my practice and I enjoy seeing how another artist can push through to develop that work ethic. His willingness to repeat the same subject matter over and over is also a good demonstration of how to really master a certain idea. Finally, I thought that he did a good job of talking about his progress in life after graduation and how to not grow stagnant in our work. I also liked how he was focused on painting his surroundings and tried to find the beauty in where he was. He seemed to seek out an appreciation of what was and to then try to extrapolate from there to create a somewhat rose-coloured view of the world – a world enhanced by curiosity and the desire to represent it.

~Hannah-Renée Hardy

Kala Stein – Meghan Vanderkruk

I am very enamoured by Kala’s work. I think she has an exquisite sense of color theory, form, and repetition. This is most evidenced in her piece Convivium. Her thousands and thousands of half goblets are placed in a pattern on a long banquet table. The room is warmly lit and there is an amazing sense of beauty and peace that reflect throughout her piece. I love the inviting nature of her work and the idea that we should be in interactions with the work we make. 

As Kala continues to make work such as Promenade and she starts to create these half forms that are visually deceptive in that they look like they could be 2D, we are invited to take a deeper look at the form of an every day object that we may otherwise take for granted. 

Form and Plenty has my favourite of her color pallettes, where she uses naturalistic muted colors that to me speak about nature and food. Because many of the objects in form and plenty are also food objects, this further makes me think critically about the food industry and the type of food we are buying when we go to the grocery store. It is easy for me to relate to her work and the meaning behind her work and I feel that she does a wonderful job of conveying the meaning behind her work in a subtle and beautiful way. 

Brandon Waybright | Emily Williams

In reflecting back on the artists we heard speak this semester, Brandon’s work seems to have stuck with me the most. I was impressed by Brandon’s versatility as an artist and designer. Throughout his presentation he made it very clear that his choice in media is always subsequent to his idea or vision. As a conceptually driven artist, he seeks out the best medium or mediums that will most accurately represent his idea, as opposed to trying to incorporate an idea into a certain type of media. Although his concepts guide his work, he also seemed to be very accepting of any sort of outside influence. He doesn’t limit himself to only creating out of his original ideas, but instead makes room for change and growth; allowing for a great deal of personal freedom. Brandon expressed that in relinquishing control of his work he invites God into the conversation, allowing his work to become more of a partnership than an individual endeavor.

 I appreciate the degree to which Brandon’s work is influenced by his experiences and the world around him. His connection to the world goes beyond his visual capacity, as most of his work is directed towards fully engaging the viewer beyond their visual capacity. He seems to be just as much of a scientist as he is artist- constantly experimenting and testing out his hypotheses. I especially enjoyed his work based on Kandinsky’s color theory and “Blue Communion”. His work is more than something stare at; it engages the viewer on a whole new sensory level. 


Artists like Brandon have definitely helped me to foster my own intellectual pursuits through art. Although sometimes art can be about creating something aesthetically pleasing; for me the pursuit of making ‘good’ art has become more of an intellectual and theological exploration. 


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