A collage of different perspectives: Studio art majors display their senior thesis projects

Part two of the studio art exhibition had been on display since April 30. (Photo by Amanda Martin.)

Tessa Jillson &

Shayna Yacyshyn

Staff Writers

After a year of developing their ideas and turning them into their own personal installments, studio art majors have incorporated their lives into their senior thesis projects. Students incorporated themes surrounding outlook, social issues, psychological concepts a two-part series, displayed at the Mazmanian Gallary. The showings opened on April 23 and 30.

Recapturing the Past:

Emily Bowling – Untitled

Converting old family photographs and recent photos taken of close friends into portrait paintings, Bowling shines new colors on narrative and identity, revitalizing perspective by eliminating background. Bowling said the pieces “deal with identity and personality” and illustrate “how we present ourselves to the world.”

The vibrant colors used are there to elicit a more “happy vibe,” she said. “Colors can have an effect on mood and emotion. … I really like that kind of modern and contemporary poppy style. I wanted a kind of more fun aesthetic to it than just to photograph.”

The portraits are painted with oil and acrylics on multi-sized canvases.

“I wanted to kind of paint them all in the same style and have them all in this contained space – not as separated.”

Furniture or Frame:

Kelsey Goossens – “Homebodies”

A staircase enclosed with molds of human faces, lamps assembled with manufactured hands and a chair created without a seat – it is fair to assume Goossens has created her own personal horror house.

Goossens compilation is made of plaster, wood, bolts and furniture taken from her own house to make it her “own space.”

The staircase, which Goossens built from scratch, is crooked and covered with meshed casts of baby doll faces and of her own face.

The faces “all are kind of individual in their own way because I poured the casts differently for all of them, trying to make a variation,” she said.

Goossens said she was intentionally recreating her “own space” to make people feel uncomfortable. “I am inducing the anxiety that I face when leaving my own spaces,” she explained.

The bedside lamp, equipped with plastic baby doll arms and the chandelier installed with molds of Goossens own hands, invokes a feeling of unease – a term Goossens frequently used to describe the overall essence her work generated.

Unraveling Gender Binaries:

Hannah Ferrante – Untitled

Overlapping black, red and white thread on square-clothed canvases, Ferrante disrupts the way we look at the overarching social structures of society.

Ferrante experiments with form, stitching images of the body and nature together with stigmatized symbols to force embroidery out of the domestic tradition.

Her work disassociates masculine and feminine stereotypes to create a neutral plane – one where identity isn’t subverted by gender roles and customs. In one of her 24 canvases, a red thread silhouette of a man wearing a “women’s” plunging cowl halter top is fused together with a black thread image of a bull.

Although some of her embroidered works are easy to interpret, others are left up for debate.

“I definitely want some of the forms to be easily read, and other ones to be kind of ambiguous so you really have to look at them,” Ferrante said. In addition, she wants not only herself, but others, to find “familiarity within images” in order to analyze how one might perceive their own gender.

“Gender affects how we present ourselves or how other people interpret you based on different representations,” she continued.

Conceptualizing liminal space through animals facing endangerment

Sadie Harmon – “Liminal Space”

Printmaker Sadie Harmon carved a series of uncommon animals into wooden blocks, which she then used to produce prints.

Harmon’s animal choices, as well as her decision to put black ink on black paper, were very deliberate.

“The species shown are all on the edge of extinction, stuck in a liminal space – printed on black paper, they are on the cusp of being present,” says Harmon.

From the gallery entrance, Harmon’s prints appear to be empty black sheets. However, after approaching her work, the viewer is then able to identify the black outlines of her animals. The absence of contrast between print and paper strengthens Harmon’s visual conception of liminal space.

Harmon uses critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable animals to represent the transitional space in which she found herself. 

“I was in a liminal space for the past year as my mother and father both received terminal diagnoses and eventually passed away,” says Harmon.

Focusing on natural forms and patterns to escape from the chaotic reality

Rohma Shirwani – Untitled

Painter Shirwani displayed paintings depicting abstract observations of natural forms. This close examination of nature allows her to escape from the chaotic and technological world around her.

“My work is an exploration of color, texture and light that resides between illusion, abstraction and fantasy,” said Shirwani.

Shirwani’s canvases vary in paint thicknesses. It holds areas of paint that rise up about half an inch, and other areas where the bare canvas is still visible through paint cracks. The playfulness of paint application activates all five senses allowing the viewer to feel a physical connection to the paintings.

“I let my curiosity take over, which leads my paintings to look both organic and synthetic,” says Shirwani.

Creating social justice and empathy through painting

Kari Long – Untitled

Painter Kari Long displayed a series of emotionally provocative works meant to break the confines of culture, gender, race and sexual orientation.

Long’s paintings depict minority figures crying out for justice and peace.

She removes the backgrounds from her paintings to point all attention toward the figures in her work.

“Creating a scene that has no distractions is important because I feel like the focus of a tragedy often gets overshined by interferences whether political or another event,” said Long.

Long began developing her thesis project after reading an article about an 8-year-old boy who was lynched. “He was the same age as my little brother, so it was the fear that comes with the situation with the cops and black people lately,” says Long.

Long intended for her paintings to produce the empathy necessary to connect people together, therefore lessening the tragedies caused from racial divide.