Every senior art major at Northwestern is tasked with creating an exhibit that expresses something they’re passionate about and displaying it for the community to enjoy. Their goal is to show something dear to their hearts through things they’ve produced with their own hands in their favorite way.
Recently, Jaycee Vander Berg finished her senior art exhibit. Her show, titled, “End of Watch,” displays many charcoal headshots of police officers who have fallen during duty in the past year. The concept connects both her majors, criminal justice and art, and is something close to her heart as she is going into law enforcement after graduation.
“Every single one of the officers I drew was shot serving in their roles, sometimes during something as simple and unexpected as a traffic stop,” Vander Berg said. “It was a small way for me to honor the people who put their lives on the line every time they have a shift.”
Particularly for this show, Vander Berg chose charcoal because the black and white combination brings a new meaning to the portraits. The choice specifically allowed her the ability to pull out certain aspects of the headshots. She says it’s almost haunting as “you look into their eyes and see a face of a person that’s no longer here.” Charcoal is also one of her favorite mediums to work with as it allows her to judge whether she’s been improving as she continues to work on the pieces.
“If I keep working on the same sort of stuff, trying to make each piece more and more realistic, I can really judge if I’m improving or not,” Vander Berg said.
Vander Berg has put a lot of time and effort into the exhibit as she’s spent an average of about six hours on each piece she created. Some of the pieces in the exhibit are more colorful and unrelated to the original theme, but they are still pieces she’s proud of as she’s worked on them over the years.
While she is unable to pick a favorite, she does admit they’ve moved her in many ways. There was a moment when she had laid out the almost finished pieces in a row, and the depth of the headshots and the lost lives they portrayed seemed to hit her.
“All these people were just frozen in their headshots,” Vander Berg said. “And there was a whole line of them – that’s what got me.”
Vander Berg hopes people can experience the true depth and heartache that comes with her exhibit at her reception on Monday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Te Paske Gallery.
The show will be open the whole week to give people the chance to see her hard work and dedication as she honored those fallen officers.