Capstone art show sends off artists with one last exhibition

Graham Shapley

As graduation approaches Colorado State University’s seniors, they spend their final moments looking back on the experiences and achievements that got them to where they currently are. 

At the Carnegie Center for Creativity, five students on the cusp of graduation put on an art exhibition for their capstone class. A capstone class allows final year students to synthesize their learning from past classes and create something new using all of their skills and experiences.


For most students, being so close to the end of their formal education was bittersweet.

“In a lot of ways, I’m really disappointed that I’m not going to be able to work with the faculty anymore, as well as the resources that come with an academic institution,” said Kern Tamkun, a senior fine arts major with a concentration in pottery. “But then there’s this kind of ‘I’m ready to be done, I’m ready to move on into the world.’ It’s like disappointment and excitement all in the same.”

Tamkun focuses on the creation of ceramic tableware such as plates and bowls using traditional methods such as the potter’s wheel. He also presented at the Self-Identity art show, where he was able to auction off his pottery.

I’m gonna miss the community the most. That’s something I’m going to have to replace when I get out of school.” – Maranda Hutson, senior fine arts major 

“This is the big one,” said Christian Johnson, a senior fine arts major with concentrations in photography and electronic art. “I knew about the capstone since my freshman year, and I had a vision for it.”

For Johnson, his capstone meant focusing on playing with light. He created a program that took input from a microphone set up in the gallery and output swirling images via a projector. He also presented photographs taken with long exposure times in which he was able to “paint” on the models’ bodies using a small light. This is similar to waving a sparkler in a pattern in the air to create a shape.

“When I first started photography, a lot of people were like, ‘photography isn’t art because all you’re doing is capturing something that’s already there,’” Johnson said. “With this, what I love about it is that I’m kind of making moments happen. The painting only happens inside the camera, it’s invisible to the human eyes.”

Despite the sadness that naturally comes with the realization that an era of one’s life is ending, the atmosphere of the gallery was filled with joy and support. Friends and family of the artists swarmed them, giving them a chance to show off their work to the people closest to them.

Naturally, the artists were able to mingle and feel pride in the work they had completed, as well as discuss their art and its meaning with others.

A variety of artistic styles were presented, from photography to pottery. An array of piñatas representing the seven deadly sins hung in the center of one section of the room, flanked by macro photography of nature like dew drops and tiny plant buds.

“I was looking to find 3D people to mix with the 2D people,“ said Maranda Hutson, a senior fine arts major with a concentration in photography, who also helped organize the show. “It could be 2D art on the wall and a 3D (piece) in the center of the space. I figured that’d be more of an interesting show, and bring in a more diverse audience.”


The exhibition was held on First Friday Art Walk, the Fort Collins art walk held on the first Friday of every month. During this walk, members of the community guide themselves through several of Old Town’s numerous galleries.

The artists were excited for their futures, but they lamented the loss of the community they had found at CSU.

“I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, but it’s kind of sad knowing that this is it and there’s no more going to class with this great group of people I’ve met,” Hutson said. “I’m gonna miss the community the most. That’s something I’m going to have to replace when I get out of school.”

Collegian reporter Graham Shapley can be reached at and on Twitter @shapleygraham.