Capstone works featured in Art and Design Student Exhibition

Published on April 5, 2024

Poster designed by Lee Santillo.

ELKTON, Md: Cecil College will highlight artistic works from students in the art and design program in the Art and Design Student Exhibition and Pottery Sale featuring the 2024 Spring Capstone Exhibits. Capstone Projects are long-term, investigative projects culminating in a final product or presentation.

The 2024 exhibition kicks off with an Opening Reception on Friday, May 3, from 5 – 8 p.m. in conjunction with the Elkton First Friday Art Loop and remains on display at the Elkton Station Gallery through July 24. The Capstone students’ work can also be viewed at the Cecil College Online Gallery (

This spring’s art and design Capstone students are Adrien Solorzano, Emma Long, Jaden Smith, Lee Santillo, Linsey Saccenti, Maxwell Phelps, Paige Edgecomb, and Vin Deel.

The Art and Design Student Exhibit will feature drawings, paintings, designs, sculptures, ceramics, and much more. The exhibit highlights pieces selected by the arts faculty, representing the range of work created in the program. Proceeds from the pottery and gallery sales benefit art students.

Adrien Solorzano has been recognized for different works created throughout his young life, from smaller personal projects to a mural painted in the halls of his high school. Solorzano uses an abundance of materials and experiments with new mediums to develop new skills. Mediums range from watercolor to fibers to ceramic.

“As a transgender man, my work is about celebrating diversity. The work highlights unity as well as the unique characteristics of each and every one of us,” said Solorzano, who is working to complete his Associate of Fine Arts at Cecil College with a career path of being a high school art teacher.

His current work has developed around a bee motif featuring black and yellow stripes. This phase was inspired while doodling a bee with a sharpie on some yellow card stock. The bees became exaggerated, embellished, or included puns in their designs inspired by popular media.

While Emma Long is a local multimedia artist who works primarily in oil and acrylic, she is also skilled in clay, wire, textiles, and digital media. She will complete her AFA with concentrations in drawing and paint and in graphic design in May 2024, having been named to the President’s List for academic honors.

“My personal beliefs and experiences influence me; my work is inspired by religion, nature, history, stories, life, and death,” said Long, who grew up on a three-generational farm in Chesapeake City.

Long’s work has been recognized numerous times, earning multiple honorable mention awards at the Art and Design Student Exhibition in Spring 2023. She works part-time as an Entertainment Ambassador at the Great Wolf Lodge, which has opened opportunities for her, such as designing and creating a parade float in December 2023 and leading the lodge’s spring decoration in February 2024.

Growing up in a family of artists, Jaden Smith was taught to find inspiration from his surroundings from an early age. He developed work from his love for nature and biology. His inspiration also comes from other fields of science and how they contribute to the arts.

“I attribute my knack for detail and complexity to hours of meticulously sculpting and painting intricate leaves, mosses, and fungi. Chemistry can play a major role in an artist’s materials, not to mention the various chemical compounds and reactions that create beautiful visual displays,” said Smith, who admires the works of artist Norman Rockwell, Joseph Wright of Derby, James Gurney, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Smith says his piece, “Green Man,” represents the influences in his life. The sculpture is based on the Haniwa sculptures of Japan along with the folk figure “The Green Man” that appears in European architecture. The armor takes its appearance from French and German designs, and when showcased, the head of the sculpture is illuminated to give it a sense of aliveness.

“I try to capture a sense of mystery and elegance that nature holds. The specific version of “The Green Man” I was going for was the “Green Knight” from an Arthurian story. I enjoyed making the piece because it culminated many of the subjects and materials I love working with,” said Smith.

Lee Santillo will complete an Associate of Arts in graphic design this Spring, after which they will finish their BFA at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. Their work has been published in Ghostwatch Paranormal Magazine and Cougar Pride Center’s charity zine.

Santillo creates art to make sense of the world and their experiences. It is a way to express feelings, thoughts, and ideas that are difficult to put into words. Inspired by personal experiences, art, history, myth, and nature, Santillo enjoys reinterpreting styles and ideas with a contemporary view.

Pherein Phonon is a discussion of mental health. It references the myth of Persephone, who bound herself to the underworld by eating pomegranate seeds. She made a deal to spend half of the year in the underworld and half the year on earth. This resulted in the seasons as we know them. Persephone’s six months in the underworld parallels my struggles with worsening mental health in the winter. Myths are created to help humans make sense of the world around them. I view art in a similar way. It is a tool to communicate ideas about the world and people’s experiences in it. This painting is my attempt at making sense of mental illness, which is often an isolating experience that is difficult to express. By sharing my experiences and feelings through art, I hope to connect with others and create art that makes them feel seen,” said Santillo.

Named Artist of the Year at Perryville High School, Linsey Saccenti has worked on three public murals in Perryville and one in Quarryville, Pa., as she completes her AFA – Studio Arts degree in May. Saccenti plans to continue her studies in art at a four-year institution.

“My artwork reflects me at the time of its creation. My thoughts tend to linger when I’m going through an important period in my life. If I’m experiencing new things, anticipating them, or have strong feelings about anything, it shows up on my canvas or in clay. Once I’ve done a fair amount of thinking, I start creating. Clay, paint, ink, charcoal, and wire are my preferred mediums,” said Saccenti.

Maxwell Phelps is a visual artist inspired by the creative worlds of cartoons, which he began replicating in drawing as a child. Adventure Time, one of his favorite childhood stories, has had a strong stylistic influence on his work. Phelps has experience with various materials and currently uses digital media for his character designs. With contrasting colors, expressionistic lines, and playful characters, he aims to pull viewers into his imaginative worlds.

“The development of my work starts by looking at the world in another light. I like to expand into the childlike wonder we experienced growing up, how bright and colorful we saw the world to be. The process starts by doing exercises that involve taking regular everyday objects and turning them into human-like objects. From here, I come up with characters in my head,” said Phelps, who admires Studio Ghibli’s work, which uniquely applies colors, creative character work, and storytelling. From this inspiration, he creates playful characters and environments that invite the viewer to journey to another world. His characters exhibit stylistic approaches, including lanky limbs, minimal shading, and textured lines to express movement.

With the support of her family, Paige Edgecomb has pursued art in a variety of forms throughout her young life, leading to several pieces being selected for regional art shows. Inspired by animals, landscapes, and online sources, she creates digital and traditional artwork of various subject matter. Some work focuses on direct observation, and in others, she stylizes the subject to make it pop and attract the viewer’s eye.

“I love the process of drawing and creating, and the end result eases my mind and helps me relax when I feel stressed. Art is not only something that I enjoy, but it’s who I am as a person,” said Edgecomb.

Over the years, she has explored a variety of artistic disciplines, such as cartooning and character design. She has also experimented with a wide range of media, including acrylic, pen and ink, and colored pencil. These mediums come naturally to Edgecomb, and she finds joy in working with them.

“My most recent artwork is a replica-like painting of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting called “The Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette.” I painted it with oil paint, even though I do not usually use oil paint. While it was different for me, it was also exciting to learn how to paint with oil, and I thought that the result for this painting turned out amazing,” said Edgecomb, who is working on completing an AFA – Graphic Design this Spring.

Vin Deel is a visual artist with a focus on comics and storytelling through cartoons and the imagination of childhood explorations.

“I create work that highlights the feeling of blissful and carefree adventure we have as children. I want to recall the feeling of going out in the woods, making up games, creating stories, and coming home after a long day of exploring to watch favorite shows inspiring new adventures for tomorrow. I want to share these experiences, reach a wide audience, and inspire more artists and storytellers to create their own worlds and characters,” said Vin Deel.

Vin Deel’s work ranges in media including digital drawing, paint, and photography. Vin Deel values bright, neon colors that pop, confuse, and interest the eye. Conversely, they also enjoy darker aesthetics, such as horror.

Join us for the Art & Design Student Exhibit on May 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Elkton Station Gallery is open for visitors Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. View the work of our capstone students online at