A new mixed-media exhibition exploring the third-level student experience, as seen through the eyes of TUS students, was launched in Athlone Library recently. ‘Through Our Eyes’, a joint initiative by TUS’s Athlone campus and the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD ), showcases a curated snapshot of the creative work of students across all six TUS campuses.
The exhibition sees students share their unique perspectives in response to the question ‘What is the TUS student experience, though your eyes?’ through a variety of media, including poetry, typography, illustration, video, print, and music.
“In my eyes, the TUS student experience is unique, like no other,” said exhibitor Aleksandra Kulaszewic who created a book of typography, a medium she says she originally struggled with only for it to become one of her “greatest strengths”.
Reflecting on her experience of studying at TUS Athlone campus, she called it a “safe space”, where she has grown as a person while honing her craft.
“There’s great support from both your peers and your lecturers. You are encouraged to experiment and push your boundaries. There is never shame in failure which allows you to grow and learn for any future situation,” the final-year BA (Hons ) in Graphic and Digital Design student explained.
For Danielle Callaghan, a BA in Graphic Design student, it’s all about “getting out of your comfort zone”.
The third-year student, based at the Athlone campus, produced a video about the importance of self-belief and “overcoming imposter syndrome and being proud of the work you produce”.
LSAD student James Wellwood is exhibiting a series of experimental abstract photographs depicting micro-organisms and cells through the lens of a microscope.
Working with a veterinary nursing student in Athlone to acquire the original base photographs, he modified the images during his studio practice to give them a more “avant-garde look”.
The third-year BA (Hons ) in Fine Art (Painting ) student explained that the end result is the embodiment of the student experience in that the images “signify the idea of the connectivity that exists between the different TUS campuses”.
“I’m focusing on what goes on behind the scenes to create these photographic pieces rather than the work itself, fundamentally what could be regarded as a collaboration between a science-based and visual art-based course across the two campuses,” he explained.
According to Sarah La Cumbre, manager of the Student Resource Centre at TUS Athlone campus and herself a part-time student at LSAD, the exhibition was conceptualised with the intention of celebrating “student creativity” and the “connectedness across all six TUS campuses”.
“This is about harnessing the power of engagement through the creative arts to help our students connect with each other and celebrate each other and build their self-confidence,” she explained.
The student stories told through the exhibition run the gamut from students’ everyday experiences of commuting and on-campus parking to more serious themes of Covid-19 and the difficulties that presented, as well as overcoming mental health challenges.
One clear thread runs through them all, however, and that’s the support they’ve received from staff who are with them through every step of their student journey, helping them “connect and engage with their own wider holistic development”.
The ‘Through Our Eyes’ exhibition, which debuted at TUS Athlone campus last week with distinguished guests including Dr Harman Murtagh, a notable Irish historian and art curator, and LSAD Dean Mike Fitzpatrick, will move to the beautifully designed atrium of Athlone town library this Saturday.
“Creativity comes in all shapes and forms and our students are an extremely talented bunch. We are looking forward to widening the reach to library visitors and members of the public who will be interested to experience our students’ creative accounts of their student experience,” Ms La Cumbre remarked.
By sharing the student experience, as told through the eyes of TUS students themselves, she said she’s hopeful that the exhibition will “encourage more people to consider progressing to third level education”.
The ‘Through Our Eyes’ exhibition is open to the public and will run until April 18 in the Athlone Library.