LEWISTON – Two new exhibitions at the Bates College Museum of Art feature the efforts of five Bates College art majors, four who’ll graduate in May and an alumna.

The annual senior exhibition, which continues through May 29, displays work by studio art majors Elizabeth Brin, Ryan Heffernan, Rachel Starr and Tiffany Tropino.

The other exhibit, “Early French Photography: Art and Industry,” was curated from the museum’s collection by Britt Eilhardt. She graduated from Bates in December and is now on staff at The Cloisters, in New York City, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art of medieval Europe. She will give a talk about the exhibition at 11 a.m. Friday, April 29, in the museum’s seminar gallery. This show will run through May 7.

In the senior exhibition, Brin’s acrylic and oil paintings use words that surround the Iraq war. After following the news and talking to people here and abroad about the war, she chose words that seemed important. She has explored various ways of writing the words on canvas and how color and paint application heighten the emotional tenor of the paintings.

Heffernan’s photographs focus on strong images found throughout everyday life in Lewiston. Heffernan, who contributed a photographic essay on Lewiston’s Somali community to the college’s alumni magazine in 2003, will continue his photographic studies in Santa Fe, N.M., this summer.

Starr paints still lifes with varying degrees of representation and abstraction. “I want my paintings to be in dialogue with art history, and I also want them to be contemporary,” she writes. “More importantly, I want my paintings to share the pleasure I find in color and the beauty I find in simple things.”

Painting in oil on canvas, Tropino began working toward making colorful large-scale floral images last September. “It is the painting traditions associated with flowers that have kept me with them for this long,” she writes.

For nearly three years, “Early French Photography” curator Britt Eilhardt interned in the college’s Museum of Art. The exhibition came about after director Mark Bessire asked her to go through the museum’s photography collection.

“I found that the museum had a small but concentrated group of French photographs from the 19th century,” she says. “It came to my attention that there were consistent themes being portrayed in these images: whether or not photography should be considered an art, the competition between photography and lithography, and the implications of the spread of photography.”

The museum is open free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. It’s closed Sundays and major holidays. For additional information, people can call 786-6158 or go online to www.bates.edu/museum.xml

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