Joel Lara

Joel Lara is preparing his sculpture for the senior exhibition.

GOSHEN — The senior art exhibition at Goshen College features graphic design and art work from seven Goshen College seniors.

“It really showcases what we, as senior art students, have been working on for the past four years,” said senior Joel Lara.

Lara began his exhibition pieces in his junior year, which gave him plenty of time and in the end, allowed him to completely change his plan. Originally, Lara wanted to attend Ball State for architecture, but he received such great scholarships at Goshen College that he couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Born in Mexico, Lara’s family immigrated to Goshen when he was in the first grade and he graduated from Goshen High School. Today Lara is a senior in the art department at Goshen College, finishing up his exhibition for the second set of senior art exhibits, a collection of large sculptures.

He’d initially planned a geometric design with commonplace colors like red, blue, green and white, to mesh with traffic lights and other street décor, but he decided he wanted to push himself further.

“I’d had a mental block the past semester. I was making this really tall piece for the Epic Art Trail, and it just wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, so I spent the whole semester working on that piece.”

In Lara’s new piece he hopes will bring awareness to mental health. He was inspired by another piece of art he discovered of a woman, watching birds fly away in blue and pink sky.

I’ve had mental health problems these past few years, but in a positive way, bringing comfort to people who may need it,” he said. It’s very prevalent nowadays, mental health and mental illness, but I didn’t want to create a collection of pieces that represent the bad side of mental health, but in a way just bring awareness and hope.”

His piece incorporates the landscape of that image, with clouds in pink and blue, and birds in the foreground. The piece is constructed mostly of aluminum rather than steel, even though it’s more difficult to weld, in order to create a lighter piece, allowing for more design. His structure remains steel.

Set to graduate in May 2022, Lara plans to take a gap year before returning to university after saving up to remain debt free and deciding on what college to begin his architectural degree. He’s still got plans to go into architecture, and has pursued his concentration in pre-architecture, using his sculptural pieces as a portfolio.

“That’s still the plan. That’s why I got into doing sculpture and sculptural ceramics as a way to start a portfolio of architectural pieces, Lara said. “The sculpturability, the design, even the engineering aspect of creating these sculptures, because a lot of the ones I’m making are pretty tall.”

Lara and several other sculpture students from the college will also have their pieces displayed on the Epic Art Adventures trail, which this year will include the quilt gardens, wax figures and contemporary sculptures put on by the Elkhart County Visitor and Convention Center.

The Senior Art Exhibit is divided into two parts. The first portion, on display now until April 4, will feature graphic designer Anna Smucker of Goshen photographer; Jacqueline Efigenio Martinez of Goshen; graphic designer Leah Kauffman of West Liberty, Ohio; and graphic designer Andrew Bodden of Lancaster, Penn.; and drawer Priscilla Tanujaya of Jakarta, Indonesia

The second exhibition, going from April 10 to April 24, will feature Lara and graphic designer Yujin Kim, Chuncheon, Korea.

A combined graduation exhibit will also be held the week of April 26.

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at or at 574-538-2065.

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