It was standing room only at the Kauffman Gallery in Huber Art Center, as art enthusiasts and buyers huddled together to view student art.
One of these student artists was Chelsea Schonhaut, a senior graduating with a degree in graphic design. Schonhaut submitted two pieces in the gallery which she titled “All American Burger” and “Cookies.” One of the pieces won an award for its quality and presentation.
The pieces are considered digital paint because of the way they are constructed. Using Photoshop, Schonhaut started with a photo and built hundreds of layers in the program. She then slowly merged them together, a process that can take 12–22 hours.
One of the photos in the exhibit was an image of a giant hamburger that looked like it was in a drunken haze. This particular piece won the 2D Media Merit because of its synthetic quality. When viewing the piece from far away, it looked like a photograph with a grainy quality.
Upon closer examination, the piece appeared to be a painting with muted colors and fuzzy texture. Although “Cookies” did not win any awards, it is still worth an honorable mention. This piece was created in the same method with Photoshop, and has only depressed browns for color encased in a plastic doggy bag.
Schonhaut got her inspiration for this exhibit from a trip to Italy.
“This is an observation of the ignorance of the American diet,” she said.
What she means is Italy inspired her because of the different foods and the way they were served.
She said she remembers being at St. Marks Square and seeing a McDonald’s that felt so out of place with the rest of the architecture and culture. That was not the only spark of inspiration.
“I am such a fat person. I love food,” she said jokingly.
Inspiration aside, Schonhaut got hooked on her medium when she took a photo manipulation class that taught her to paint digitally.
“It is a mature extension of what I’ve been working with. I like it better than actual painting,” she said.
Working digitally allows Schonhaut to have access to an infinite amount of color, save her work without fear of losing it, and also enables her to print out as many copies as she needs.
The way Schonhaut creates her signature style of real but soft quality is with a Wacom Tablet. This tablet reads pressure points and allows her to draw using a pen.
It is basically fine art digital painting.
“Technology is amazing. This is taking fine art into the modern era,” Schonhaut said.
Getting accepted into the Student Art Exhibition was extremely competitive. There were 156 works submitted and only 56 works were accepted into the gallery.
The works were evaluated by three judges who then selected those appropriate for exhibition and awards. Many of the works are also for sale, including Schonhaut’s, and range in price from $75 to $1,000.
As the gallery visitors began to disperse, Schonhaut’s works hung by the door as a stark reminder to always remember you are what you eat.