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Fresh Foundations

Jake Ledson typography "Birds"
November 26, 2018

Tweed exhibit spotlights freshman work and creates interclass connections.

When senior Rheanna Nelson was growing up, there were ongoing art projects at the kitchen table of her Two Harbors, Minnesota home. Her mom, a Bulldog before her, also majored in art and facilitated constant creativity. So it really didn't surprise Rheanna's family when she focused on watercolor as an Art and Art History double major at UMD.

Her one regret? Not participating in "Fresh Foundations," a unique opportunity for first-year students to exhibit their work. "It seemed optional and it was more work, but I wish I did it." In hindsight, Rheanna sees "Fresh Foundations" as a chance for freshman to realize that their work is important and valued.

“Freshman aren’t often given an opportunity to display in a gallery setting,” echos Art & Design Professor Darren Houser. “It’s nice for their great efforts to be formally acknowledged.”

Now at the other bookend of her collegiate career, Rheanna is orchestrating opportunities for first-year students to take full advantage. She and her Art & Design’s Senior Seminar II classmates are curating the show, garnering valuable experience organizing an exhibition– putting out a call, soliciting participation, curating, and deciding how the work will be displayed. 

Just over half of the "Fresh Foundations" entries were accepted, art Rheanna says showed elements of the principals of design. "I'd never been on a jury, and it's interesting to see what makes a piece stand out and learn more about the process."

UMD's Rheanna Nelson

Real Connections

Nestled underneath the educational benefits of participating in "Fresh Foundations," more great things are happening. Freshmen are connecting with seniors, creating retention. "It helps foster relationships between Art and Design peers; appreciating the work done in tandem but in different sections of classes," says Houser. "It's turned into a nice mingling of freshmen and senior studio art students, in a format that benefits everyone."

Freshman Jake Ledson, who's majoring in Digital art and Photography, had two of his five typography pieces accepted in "Fresh Foundations." Beyond the validation, which he says he appreciates, he feels like there's now a bridge. "Freshmen are isolated, and these pieces give me a way to connect to seniors."

If you go:

“Fresh Foundations,” an exhibition featuring freshman art, opens on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at the Tweed Museum of Art, 1201 Ordean Court. The exhibition runs through January 9, 2019.

An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, December 4 from 4 - 6 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

Learn more about the Department of Art and Design