Art exhibit showcases two students’ paintings

One of Way’s paintings from the exhibit. Photo courtesy: Chelsie Ross

Kala Way and Jude Jones, upcoming graduates of Florida A&M University, inspired others as they shared the motivations behind their art exhibits at the Foster-Tanner Gallery Thursday evening.

The two touched on deeper and more personal and emotional topics in their collections.

Way’s “Outside the Garden” focuses on how she views her religious upbringing.

“It’s an inspiration of me growing up in a Christian household. I heard the stories of Adam and Eve and I wanted to talk about how their punishments affect women and men’s gender roles that we go through today in society,” she said.

Some topics she touched on in her work included childbirth, sexual assault, toxic masculinity and mental health. She really honed in on the idea of how traditionally, Eve is viewed as the destructor for eating the apple, but instead “both Adam and Eve played a part in their own punishment.”

Her collection is split between a man’s point of view and a woman’s. For the woman’s side, she focuses on the pain and expectations of childbirth and motherhood and the emotions that come from sexual assault. She even shared her own story of being a survivor and how it’s shaped in her painting.

For the man’s side, she described how stereotypically they’re considered strong and leaders in the household. When they deal with things, they have to suffer in silence. Through research and conversations with her brother, she portrayed the male’s experience in her paintings.

There are seven paintings in her exhibition and she used oil for her work. It took her three months and a week to finish them.

“I did two paintings each month while doing work and school, so it was a little hard but with the time and effort I put into it and mostly all-nighters, I was able to finish,” she said.

Some of Jone’s artwork. Photo courtesy: Chelsie Ross

Along with Way, Jones’s “REM Diaries” took a different approach. She focused on her dreams and nightmares that she experienced in 2022. She described the nightmares as “constant” and “incredulously ridiculous” and said they reminded her of her dreams as a child in Mississippi.

She used rainbows and a lot of vibrant colors. She said this was to show that “I create my own nightmare in one that I can control and one that I have complete power over so that way I can still make it as scary as I want but there’s still the escape there.”

Her artwork was used as a form of therapy in a sense. She could collect her fears and traumas and turn them into something beautiful. She also wanted to highlight the transition from girlhood to adulthood.

In her speech, she dedicated the exhibit to her mother who told her that “every part of a dream is you and to analyze it in that perspective.” Once she was told this, she began to see her nightmares as a part of herself that had been neglected.

Though new to oil painting, Jones has found enjoyment in the art medium and plans to do more of it.

The two are excited to present their work, along with Fine Arts adjunct professor Aja Roache, who shared her sentiments.

“If you’re a fine arts student then this is something that you have to look forward to and it is a labor of love,” she said.

Roach also described the process the two fine art majors underwent. Like a capstone project, they started two semesters ago by sharing their ideas with faculty and getting them approved. They then had to take a senior portfolio class and go through a faculty evaluation which led to them creating an exhibition statement and installing their own work.

This process is typical for fine art majors and before graduation they get to show their work in a professional gallery.

Way and Jones’ exhibition will be in the Foster-Tanner gallery until April 28 and is open to the public for viewing.