Marissa Solini is a conceptual artist who has spent the last several years honing her craft while studying applied visual arts in the College of Liberal Arts.
“I was the kid drawing in the back of the classroom in high school,” she says. “I realized pretty early that I was naturally gravitating toward the arts, and I wanted to pursue my passion in college.”
Solini thought about attending a smaller, arts-focused school, but she longed for the traditional college experience Oregon State could provide.
“In the art department, I’m one in 40 instead of one in 4,000,” she says. “The professors know my work, and I have their support.”
But Solini has never wanted to let the medium she’s working in define her. Instead, she focuses on certain subjects, including feminism and social justice, and lets those topics define the medium she works in.
For example, a piece in her senior show included 50 plaster guns on top of a 5-foot, 9-inch wooden table.
“It’s called The Peacekeeper,” Solini explains. “It was my response to the Ferguson case and the deaths of Mike Brown and Tamir Rice. Each gun represents one of the 50 states, and the work is about rising police violence against the black community.”
When Solini isn’t busy making art, she enjoys talking about it on her radio show on KBVR FM, Mike and Mari.
The show, cohosted with classmate Michael McDonald, began as a podcast in the corner of his living room, but thanks to Solini’s connections at KBVR, it was soon placed on the air. The show focuses on technology and art within the campus community and beyond. Solini often interviews local artists and students on the show. She says it has given her a whole new set of technical skills she wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
“It’s also helped me learn to speak more eloquently about art and critiques of art,” she says. “And I’ve gotten more comfortable attending gallery openings and introducing myself in the context of that show.”
After graduation, Solini will exhibit a series of paintings at the Yaquina Art Center in Newport for the month of July. After that she’s hoping to find a position in arts administration or at an ad agency. Plus, thanks to her experience at KBVR, Solini is also a pro at coordinating volunteers, and she’s interested in helping people through nonprofit work.
“I have this great art background thanks to Oregon State,” she says. “So I’m trying to find a way to bridge my interests into a fulfilling position for the future.”