Hamilton artists Katrina Camilleri and Cheyenne Federiconi have come a long way since high school. The two longtime friends and graduating Mac students have just put the finishing touches on their upcoming art exhibit.

They’ll be showing a joint collection of original artwork at Manta Contemporary Gallery starting April 4. Aptly entitled BOMBS AWAY, their exhibit features pieces that seek to expose the “naked reality” behind political issues. The artists tackle war, violence, pop culture and sex in a way that is alluring yet unsettling.

The duo grew up in Hamilton and took high school art classes together before both enrolling in McMaster’s studio art program.

Coming out of high school as a painter, Federiconi says she now does more sculpture and performance art. Camilleri said she’s also discovered her preferred medium at Mac.

“I’ve found how to channel my personality into my artwork,” said Camilleri.

They said the biggest challenge of putting the show together has been reconciling their individual styles. After confirming their slot at the gallery at the end of February, the two had only a month to drum up original pieces for the themed exhibit.

Camilleri, who usually works in one colour, took on Federiconi’s vibrant colour palette, while Federiconi experimented with themes of war that aren’t usually a focal point of her work.

“We have two opposite styles, so finding one theme was hard,” said Camilleri.

Federiconi said her favourite piece in the show is an assortment of toy weapons, which she purchased and repainted pink.

“I [embellished] them with diamonds, pearls and lace to take objects often associated with violence and terror, and change their interpretation into something cute and non-threatening,” she said.

The artists say they’re excited to be showing at an up and coming gallery in Hamilton’s downtown core that doesn’t typically exhibit student work.

“Culturally, I think we [in Hamilton] embrace art more now,” said Federiconi, who referenced the boom that James Street N. has experienced in recent years with Artcrawl and Supercrawl.

Federiconi says she wants to make a living in Hamilton’s art scene after graduation this April. She’s got four or five exhibits under her belt, some of which she organized, and wants to keep going.

After graduating, Camilleri will be leaving Hamilton to pursue teacher’s college. She has aspirations to teach art at the high school level.

“I think the beauty of [Mac’s] program is that you start out new…and in your graduating year they let you go and apply what you’ve learned,” said Camilleri.

Their exhibit will be in the Manta Contemporary Gallery on King William St. The show runs from April 4 to 30, with an opening reception on April 12.

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