Mundanities: Two seniors shedding light on what we overlook


Painting “Not Amoosed” by Grace Amundson

Nathan Janzen, Arts and Entertainment Editor

From November 17 to December 8, a unique collection graced the university art gallery. As the last weeks of the fall semester ended, the third floor of the Fine Arts Center featured the work of two seniors: Grace Amundson and Mackenzie Hanson. Together, the artists created a collection of works that showcased, as the title implies, mundane articles of everyday life. 

The main spectacle in Hanson’s portion of the collection was a series of oil paintings featuring food. A couple of the most striking pieces included “TV Dinner” and “Government Cheese Grilled Cheese,” the former featuring mashed potatoes that, in person, seemed on the verge of oozing from the frame. The potato chips included with the latter’s golden-brown sandwich seemed to glisten as if they had just been pulled out of the fryer. 

In addition to these tantalizing culinary canvases was a mixed media work that stood out from the rest: “God Save the Queen, Elizabeth I of England.” Utilizing the simple but effective mediums of acrylic paints and foam board, Hanson built a strikingly pale and serious picture of the former queen. Artistically, it bears a resemblance to Tim Burton’s take on the Queen of Hearts from 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The monarch is adorned with a “fabric embellishment” that, at close glance, looks exactly like a wedding garter. Was this inclusion a “mundanity” left for viewers to find? The world may never know. 

Amundson was no less creative in leaving small touches for visitors to discover. Like her partner’s, Amundson’s featured works included a series of paintings, the most striking of which was her “La Crosse Country Club Tribute.. Eighteen paintings—one for each hole on the golf course—displayed the rolling greens, sweeping fairways, and treacherous sand traps from an aerial view. Thick brush strokes, using copious amounts of paint, highlighted the lush areas surrounding the course’s spans. The individual paintings covered such a span on the gallery wall that no photograph could do the details justice. 

In addition to her paintings, Amundson selected prints in woodcut and intaglio styles to present. The latter form, which involves inking from the bottom of the canvas instead of the top, appeared to be a favored medium for the artist. Carrying forward the “mundanities” theme in this series were works such as “Hearing Aid in Bloom” and “What’s in the Bag?” which features a set of golf clubs resting proudly in their bag. The woodcut “Fishing Tales” seems to be their antithesis, featuring a father-son duo battling a monstrous bass. 

Of the “Mundanities” collection, it could be said overall that there are not devils in the details, but angels. Artistic passion and care shine from every piece, with the quiet hush and gentle lighting of the art gallery cultivating a sense of whimsical peace. For those who could not make it to the third floor for a viewing, it was truly an opportunity missed. However, the Lumen hopes its readers enjoy the works featured alongside this article. To characterize them with “mundanity” would be an oxymoron.