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HFA showcases eclectic students’ artwork

(Jackson Cote/ Daily Collegian)

Eric Watterson empathizes with the caged plight of his hamster, and so, he made an art piece about him.

“He doesn’t like my apartment that much. He doesn’t like me that much. He tolerates me,” said Watterson, a junior studio arts major at the University of Massachusetts, about his hamster Nugget. “He just wants to escape and sometimes I relate to that.”

Staring in front of an audience of approximately 12 individuals, Nugget was the subject of one of five videos that Watterson created using a non-electric, crank-powered Bolex camera for a course he is taking at Amherst College, titled “Experiments- 16 mm film.”

Watterson’s collection of videos was also one of 41 art pieces exhibited in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Student Showcase, an annual event put on by the HFA student leadership board at UMass.

The showcase, held on April 11 in the Campus Center Auditorium, featured a diverse array of artwork from UMass undergraduate and graduate students – ranging from videos projects like Watterson’s to color pencil drawings, photographs, written and performed poetry, acrylic paintings and short stories.

There was also an installation art piece, where sophomore environmental science major Rachel Bratton slept on a mattress on the floor of the auditorium, allowing attendees to observe her.

“There were no criteria for what you could submit,” said Charlotte Seaman, a sophomore art history major and head of the HFA student leadership board’s showcase committee.

Seaman and other members of the board came equipped to the event with masking tape, command strips and extra tables for all of the student artists’ work. She recalled how last year someone submitted a science paper to the showcase.

“If you consider it to be art, then we want to see it,” she said.

While Megan Sorel, a senior linguistics and psychology double major, does not consider herself an artist, she has attended the showcase for the past three years, noting how the event participation has grown each year.

“There’s so many people you wouldn’t expect to have submitted things,” said Sorel, as she observed the photography of junior pre-veterinary sciences major Brittany Fay.

Sorel noticed one of Fay’s photographs that pictured the leaves of a pine tree, heavily coated with ice and snow. For Sorel, this moment in time would normally be overlooked, rather than photographed.

“That’s why I like to look at art, it gives me a fresh kind of view on everything,” she said.

Bobby Jaycox, a sophomore mathematics major who recently declared English as his secondary major, is attempting to get more acclimated to the student art scene at UMass. He recently attended the play “Proof” put on by the UMass Theatre Guild, and “Life Defying Acts,” put on by the UMass Theatre Department.

And like Fay, art serves a similar purpose for Jaycox: providing “a different perspective on things that I’ve never really thought about.”

Jackson Cote can be reached at and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.

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