Southeast Missouri State University student publication

DEI represents itself through the paintbrush at River Campus’ RANGE exhibit

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Two art pieces by Cape Girardeau artist Kiaola Sooman-Stanton are featured in the "RANGE" exhibit. The piece on the left is titled “Addictions and Vices,” and the piece on the right is titled “Back on Track.” Both were created in 2022, and are for sale for $500 and $400 respectively.
Photo by Emma Kratky

Visitors set their eyes on vibrant colors and an array of mediums in an exhibit filled with physical manifestations of inclusion and diversity.

The “RANGE” exhibit had its opening night on Feb. 3 at the River Campus Art Building, showcasing artists on a local and national level. Artists behind each piece were selected to help create an exhibit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, known as DEI. The exhibit also uplifted artists who are women.

Co-curator and associate professor of art and design Emily Denlinger said it’s important to be open to learning about DEI.

“One of the phrases that we keep going back to every year is ‘creativity thrives on diversity,’” Denlinger said. “There is so much that we can learn from each other and from learning about other peoples experiences, and considering other viewpoints.”

Fellow co-curator and chair of the Department of Art & Design Nancy Palmeri said artwork created by faculty from other institutions was included in the exhibit. The faculty members were also instructed to choose a student or close professional that represented DEI to create a piece for the exhibit.

While inclusion in the exhibit can be found through the art on the walls, it can also be found in SEMO classrooms.

“The Department is really committed to making sure diversity is uplifted, not only in the exhibitions that we have but also in the classes we teach,” Palmeri said.

Palmeri said all classes within the Department of Art & Design include some form of diversity, either through teaching about inclusion or uplifting voices from members of diverse communities.

“Students come in, and they’re teaching us mostly. They know a lot about DEI, about the struggle; they are the voices of that,” Palmeri said.

SEMO alum and artist Tyler Harris, a.k.a. E7Tash, is a former student turned illustrator. He had his work on display in the hallway gallery of the art building. His gallery is called “Artist Rising,” and features many pieces inspired by comic book art and surrealism.

Harris said he likes to show the transition from past, present and future in his work, as well as highlight living artists.

SEMO alum and artist Tyler Harris poses next to his art piece, “Rebirth.” Harris graduated from SEMO in 2016 with a degree in Art Education, and is currently a middle school art teacher. All of Harris’s featured works in his gallery are for sale, ranging from $300 to $2200.
Photo by Emma Kratky

Three of his pieces represent this transition and all feature the number three.

“I kind of had inspiration from angel numbers,” Harris said.

Harris is currently a middle school art teacher and designer. In his free time, he said he creates many pieces on his ipad and has them printed onto canvases.

Both the “RANGE” exhibit and Harris’s “Artist Rising” gallery will be open for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Feb. 24, Monday through Friday.

A digital canvas painting titled “Praying with the moon” is featured in Tyler Harris’s Artist Rising gallery. Harris said he painted a woman with melanoma patches to create neat patterns that relate to the moon. He said the moon comes out when the sun isn’t shining, allowing the melanoma patches to provide a representation of the lack of sunlight.
Photo by Emma Kratky