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06/09/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

Seven graduating senior art students at La Sierra University whose talents run the gamut of artistic expression have been selected to exhibit their work in Brandstater Gallery.

La Sierra University art students are exhibiting their creative talent in Brandstater Gallery through June 15.
Art piece by student Colleen Stafford.
Ceramic pieces by art senior Slade Shepherd.
Embroidered batik art by senior Lauren Prado.
Graphic design by art senior Krissy Traustason.
Art senior Andrew Claize works on a chair design.
A work in fabrics by art senior Katie Esquibel.
A painting by art senior Jasmine Villaflor.

Andrew Claize, Katie Esquibel, Lauren Prado, Slade Shepherd, Colleen Stafford, Krissy Traustason, and Jasmine Villaflor are showing works in graphic design, ceramics, photography, mixed media paintings, industrial arts, embroidered batik and more before marching to “Pomp and Circumstance.” The exhibit will be on display through June 15, La Sierra’s graduation day. Admission is free.

The students hail from a variety of backgrounds and artistic experiences. Prado just completed a solo exhibit at Brandstater of her colorful, hand-embroidered batik figures in a show titled “My Community.” She is a Riverside native who loves to read Japanese manga comics, play video games and chug coffee when not creating art. Her world of embroidered human figures gives Prado the control she seeks. She strives to bring out the figures’ inner souls, “breaking the human essence down into a tactile form that I have power over.” At the same time, she is relinquishing her control of the pieces through the process of creating and sewing, she said.

Stafford is from Northern California and lives in Riverside. She likes to read and play volleyball when not working in art. Her artistic pursuits were inspired by two teachers in high school, and by a painting created by her brother in memory of her grandfather. “Something about the connection I feel to that painting has been a huge inspiration in my life,” she said. Her mixed media paintings are strongly influenced by “the idea of childhood innocence and our connections with nature and the man made world,” she said.

Stafford is displaying seven paintings in the senior exhibit. “The work that [is] shown is meant to convey the connections between humans and nature,” she said. “I think the work should address the question, ‘what does it mean to be human?’ And also, what is our place within the balance of nature?” 

Stafford intends to pursue a master’s degree in art therapy after graduation and eventually work as an art therapist with chronically and terminally ill children.

Claize, also a Riverside native, has been involved in art since graduating from high school in 2005. He regards himself as a commercial artist and works primarily with digital media. Claize received inspiration and help from his brother and father who are talented photographers, he said. “You find inspiration from everything in your personal life,” he said. Claize plans to pursue a career in freelance graphic design, and enjoys mountain biking, traveling and hanging out with friends.

Esquibel, a Yucaipa resident whose work has recently focused on textiles and screen printing, was inspired by her grandmother, Dolores Shelton who was an artist. “Growing up I would watch her working on art, and this led me to wanting to do art,” Esquibel said.

She plans to become an art therapist working in hospitals and clinics. When not creating art she enjoys rock climbing, singing, ballroom dancing, hitting the beach and trying new coffee houses.

Esquibel will exhibit between six and eight pieces in the Brandstater show. “Music, pictures and everyday things inspire me and influence my art work,” she said. “Music drives my creativity.” 

Villaflor, a Ventura County native who lives in Riverside, creates paintings that often incorporate mixed media. She would frequently draw and paint throughout her life, and her uncle, a graphic designer, taught her the fundamentals along the way. But she did not engage in formal artistic instruction until college, she said.

Villaflor describes her paintings as “a bit dark” and she strives to convey social awareness through them. She is displaying seven paintings in the exhibit. Her career goals include dentistry and possibly missionary service.

Ceramics and charcoal drawing artist Shepherd, a San Luis Obispo native and future dentist, loves the outdoors – backpacking, surfing and riding his motorcycle. His artistic life, influenced by his grandfather who is a painter, his two sisters and other family members, draws inspiration from “all over. I like the creative process and being able to make things for myself,” he said. He will exhibit several ceramic pieces in the Brandstater show. Shepherd says, “I want people to think about the things that they value and the things that they use on a regular basis.”

La Sierra’s Brandstater Gallery is located in the Visual Art Center 112, Building 1. Gallery hours are Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Fri., 10:30 a.m. – noon, Sun., 2 – 5 p.m. La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside. For additional information call 951-785-2170.