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Art Prof 2020 Graduation: A Global Exhibition for Art & Design Students

Spring is supposed to be a time of celebration for graduating seniors.

The season is usually marked by important experiences such as senior exhibitions, commencement, and more. However, due to the global pandemic, graduating seniors are feeling the loss of these rites of passage this spring. Many schools have either postponed or cancelled senior exhibitions.  This loss to graduating seniors is tremendous.

On Sunday, June 7 starting at 1pm EST, we will do a live stream on the Art Prof YouTube channel to feature artwork by graduating BFA, MFA,  BA or MA in studio art programs from schools all over the world. Our channel has over 55k subscribers and will provide high visibility. Learn more about Art Prof here.

Lauryn Welch
Roger Mandle

COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER, Roger Mandle

Roger Mandle is currently President and CEO of Roger Mandle Associates LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting museums and universities in strategic planning, board and senior staff development and mentoring, and advice during important transitions. RMA is also leading in the creation of alternative models of art and design education including online education.

From 2008-2012, Dr. Mandle was Executive Director and Chief Museums Officer of Qatar Museums Authority, responsible for the concept development, governance structure, staff creation, architectural planning and program execution for over 12 museums and cultural institutions.

Prior to his work in Qatar, Dr. Mandle was for 15 years President of Rhode Island School of Design. During his tenure, the college’s endowment grew from $75 million to over $400 million. Many new academic and museum programs, including a joint degree program with Brown University were established.

Dr. Mandle was Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Art from 1988-1993, Director of The Toledo Museum of Art from 1977-1988, and Associate Director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art from 1967-74.

Serving on many boards of trustees of non-profit cultural and for-profit organizations, Dr. Mandle has organized strategic planning and evaluative efforts for them. He has taught museum studies and art history at Williams College, his alma mater, Brown University and RISD. He received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University and his M.A. and Museum Training Certificate from New York University. He has been awarded nine honorary degrees.

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FEATURED SPEAKERS

David Macaulay

David Macaulay
Caldecott Medal Winner & MacArthur Fellow

Anita Kunz

Anita Kunz
Illustrator

Grace Lin

Grace Lin
Newbery, Caldecott Honoree & National Book Award Finalist

Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Jarrett J. Krosoczka
National Book Award Finalist

Bob Staake, Illustrator

Bob Staake
Illustrator, Designer, Author

R. Kikuo Johnson

R. Kikuo Johnson
Illustrator & Cartoonist

Dan Sousa

Daniel Sousa
Filmmaker

Sharon Butler

Sharon Butler
Arts Writer & Painter

David Grubin

David Grubin
Filmmaker

Marta Mattson

Märta Mattsson
Jewelry Artist

Patrick Earl Hammie

Patrick Earl Hammie
Chair of Studio Art,  Associate Professor
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Kate Mothes, independent curator and founder of Young Space

Kate Mothes
Independent Curator and Founder of Young Space

Joan Grubin

Joan Grubin
Visual Artist

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FEATURED GRADUATING STUDENTS

Anjali Shankar, Maryland Institute College of Art
Lily Thomson, University of Leeds
Kaylee Falasco, Maryland Institute College of Art
Rosie Hancock, Plymouth University
Jess Parry, Swansea College of Art
Jung Eun Park, SUNY Purchase College
Jordan McCracken-Foster, Academy of Art University
Elisha Ann Cox, Plymouth University
Sydney Bowers, New York Academy of Art
Katie McGroarty, Edinburgh College of Art
Bernice Wang, Academy of Art University
Ziying Li, Maryland Institute College of Art
Clarisse Chua, California Institute of the Arts
Francesca Bleay, Nottingham Trent University
Shyheem Gordon, Maryland Institute College of Art
Elise Wallbridge, Wimbledon College of Arts
Rodrigo Costa, Coventry University
Michael DiCiaccio, Rhode Island School of Design
Jamie Baker, Wimbledon College of Arts
Chelsea Summers, Swansea College of Art
Isabelle Saxton, Rhode Island School of Design
Mariana Cruz, University of Westminster
Jude Wood, Wimbledon College of Art
Ruby Longoria, Texas State University
Madeleine Teh, Rhode Island School of Design
Michelle Cortez Gonzales, University of Dallas
Geraldine Sawyer, Edinburgh College of Art
Christy OiYee Lam, Academy of Art University

Amanda Booth, Rhode Island School of Design
Julieta Beltrán Lazo, Rhode Island School of Design
S.K. O’Brien, Rhode Island School of Design
Kelli Schooler, University of Mary Washington
Lena Royalz Otterheim, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft & Design
Lauren Havel, Alfred University
Johan Schalin, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design
Emily Turner, Norwich University of the Arts
Josephine Dougan, Lesley University
Emma-Jane Wilkinson, Falmouth University
Madeline Rile Smith, Rochester Institute of Technology
Malina Sintnicolaas, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Nina Valdera, Moore College of Art and Design
Alicia Hughes, University of Wales Trinity St David
Jane Gorelik, Rhode Island School of Design
Agnieszka Rostkowski, University of Dallas
Morgan Ogilvie, California Institute of the Arts
Denise Flynch, Queens College
Sean Lark Reece, Rhode Island School of Design
Cindy Zhang, Rhode Island School of Design
Min-Ji Kim, Rhode Island School of Design
Kim Truesdale, Lamar Dodd School of Art
Jeff Leavitt, Rochester Institute of Technology
Greer Cooper, Pratt Institute
Tammy Stahl, Rhode Island School of Design
Emmi Avergren, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design
Natalie Ma, Rhode Island School of Design
Mishelle Kim, Rhode Island School of Design

Artist Statement
“My practice is focused on editing ‘reality’ or reference images, focusing specifically on what might be called the mundane. Working with both painting and drawing to explore contemporary figurative art and portraiture, I use nostalgic realism, homesickness for something that is not quite possible, to express people’s alienation in the present world.

The process involves collecting images of those around me, with a feeling of familiarity, and editing them whilst painting or drawing to make them slightly disconcerting or less recognizable. I change colors or distort proportions to emphasize a certain characteristic or evoke a feeling. How we perceive and depict people comes from an interest in being connected to them, a form of empathy whilst remaining in some way detached as the artist, the decider of what and how to distort the subject.

A main influence is cinema and how a narrative is implied through the composition of a scene. Directors like Wes Anderson or Yorgos Lathimos create recognizable but hugely distinct realities using their style. The mundane and elevating it to an art is a feature of cinema I try to emulate in my paintings. The humor here is how cinema can be a way for people to disconnect. Painters such as Caroline Walker and Dan Witz influence my work in how they marry craft with concept to create a new perceived ‘reality’.

I want the viewer to have a slight sense of alienation and to be able to empathize with the scene of the painting, even if they don’t know the subject. Ultimately, they will know that they don’t quite belong in this perceived ‘reality’ and maybe find comfort in the fact that others feel the same.

Elise Wallbridge

Elise Wallbridge
Student Speaker

BFA in Painting, Wimbledon College of Arts

United Kingdom
@elise.wallbridge_art

Bio
Having moved around a lot as a child but growing up mostly in Canada and Switzerland I experienced a lot of beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, I am devoutly fascinated by people, of which there weren’t many. This in turn pushed me to move to London and study ‘Fine Art: Painting’ at Wimbledon College of Arts. I’ll be graduating this year and am very excited and a little nervous to see what comes next. 

I’ve tried a lot of media during my three years at university but over time have become really taken with coloured pencil and acrylic paint. Spending a lot of time working in my sketchbooks has made these become the main site of my practice, while still making some larger paintings to push myself. I tend to work from images of my friends or family usually in a familiar setting. 

Portraiture and figurative drawing became a way for me to empathize and understand people. Capturing moments of disconnect in everyday life. Hopefully building a conversation around feelings of alienation in familiar settings. I distort proportions and change colors to make the scene slightly disconcerting. I call it ‘editing ‘reality’’. 

Cinema and television take up a lot of my time, I’m fascinated by how composing a scene implies a narrative, sometimes thinking of my works as small moments from a movie. I’m excited to build a community of artists after university and seeing the community on Art Prof is so encouraging. Let’s see what comes next!

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Artist Statement
“I work with traditional media: gouache, colored pencil, watercolor, and acrylic. I really like how much texture comes when you work with these materials by hand. I draw a lot of people, especially children and animals. I usually start with a character interaction, and I try to capture a candid emotion and a lot of energy and then I’ll build a world around that. 

My favorite work is book illustration and I’m pursuing a career in picture books. It’s very important for me to leave space for text, so I play with a lot of white space in my art. I do a lot of vignettes, but when I’m doing a full spread I still want to make sure that the white space and the art are balanced and will make a nice composition together.”

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Sean Lark Reece

Sean Lark Reece
Student Speaker

BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
seanlarkreece.com

Bio
I’m a California illustrator working in gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil to tell visual stories. As I write this in 2020, I’ve just completed my BFA in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and have worked at the Croft School as an after-school Kindergarten animation teacher for almost two years.

I’ve been incredibly moved by the focus and seriousness of children. I think kids don’t know that they’re kids, and I try to capture the humor and power of that when I draw child characters.

As I pursue a career in picture books and freelance editorial illustration, I’m fueled by all the creative families I’ve gotten to be a part of. I think the artist superpower is honesty, so it’s uniquely healing to talk within communities like Art Prof. I’m always trying to improve as an artist, and I will be excited about that forever.

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Anjali Shankar

BFA in Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art

USA
@or_anj_juice

“I am graduating with a BFA in Painting from Maryland Institute College of Art. Even though I have my degree in painting a lot of my work is in mixed media. I have done works in wood, textile and film in conjunction with painting.

In general my work revolves around themes of identity: who I am in context of my family and environment. I am still in school for my Masters in Art Education and I hope to be a teacher in the future as well as continuing to explore my art practice.”

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Lily Thomson
BA in Fine Art, University of Leeds

United Kingdom
@internetupdate

“I work primarily with digital media, from video and virtual reality to digital collage. However a lot of my works begin with more physical practices, such as drawing, painting, filming in the landscape, or writing texts. 

My work is focused on the relationship between technology and spirituality, in particular looking at their interlinked histories, and how they are bound together in mythologies. I am especially interested in the idea of creative power, or the power of creation.

I look at the balance of desiring digital creative power for oneself, but simultaneously thinking that there must be some greater creative force which made the physical world, and all of its awe-inspiring landscapes. The duality of wanting to be powerful and godlike in a saturated digital world, but also wanting to be tiny in nature.

I often find myself thinking about the idea of transcendence. In pop culture virtual reality is often fantasized about as a potentially totally immersive experience in which you would be more powerful than your biology – think about transhumanism. This idea of transcending into intoxicatingly perfect world parallels religious and spiritual ideas of transcending into heaven, or paradise.

In the future I hope to be able to continue to develop my practice, either by finding a studio in which to work, or studying an MA, or perhaps finding work in the digital creative field.”

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Kaylee Falasco
BFA in Animation, Maryland Institute College of Art

USA
@kayleef_art 

“I’m primarily a 2D character animator; it’s just my favorite part of animation in general. I love bringing characters to life. I love determining their thoughts and actions and expressing that through motion in my animations. 

But theme wise, in my work, I’m really interested in exploring themes of escapism, nostalgia, fantasy, as well as themes of embracing freedom and imperfection. That’s something I learned while working in watercolor and I really tried to incorporate that into my thesis work this year.

I think I want to explore that further in the future as well as just experiment stylistically and just animate more in the future. I really don’t care what it’s for; if not for my dream job then just for myself or for somebody else’s dream job. It doesn’t really matter that much to me.”

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Rosie Hancock
BFA in Fine Art, Plymouth University

United Kingdom
@rosiemiaart

“Through figurative acrylic painting, my intention is to paint the vibrant people in my life in their own element. I worked from my own photographs of my flatmate Anna on the couch at home eating our favorite Thai food whilst drinking a cuppa, and of my Fiancé Chris; drumming with my sister Rachel, playing the guitar in the background. Engulfed in their own worlds, they are depicted enjoying the present moment. 

The bright colors and simple shapes and patterns make my paintings easy on the eye, this was inspired by the works of both Hope Gangloff and David Hockney. I think that many of Hockney’s colorful and more personal works helped brighten the mood in post-war Britain. I think we all need that personal touch, to be grounded in the present moment and a pop of pink in a pandemic, and I think my work has been successful in delivering that.”

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Jess Parry
BA in Fine Art: Studio, Site, & Context, Swansea College of Art

United Kingdom
@paintingsbyparry 

“ITS F**** FLESH. ITS NOTHING BUT F**** FLESH. MY F**** FLESH, YOUR F**** FLESH. ITS NOTHING BUT F**** FLESH!

Jess’ practice is spontaneous. She wakes up in the morning, not knowing where her work shall lead her throughout the day. Jess knows that she has one thing in mind – flesh.

Her work is the excess flesh she does not want on her body. Flesh to her is a malleable substance and she’s utterly fascinated by its violent, grotesque carnality that fuels her work.

She feels that the hand of the artist is indeed as violent as the hand of the butcher. As delicate as the hand of a seamstress and as intimate as the hand of the surgeon.”

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Jung Eun Park
BFA in Painting & Drawing, SUNY Purchase College

USA
jungeunpark.squarespace.com

“The majority of my works deals with a subject of liminal space and feeling in between as a woman, immigrant, and a member of the middle class. Ever since I was little, I moved a lot and at the age of 14 my family immigrated to America from South Korea which was a huge turning point in my life.

The scenes depicted in my works are from my daily life such as people on the public transportation who are in between departure and destination and people in Korean immigrant church where I emotionally feel like in between insider and outsider.

Because I had trouble finding many art works depicting Korean immigrant culture and didn’t see a lot of Asian artists represented in the art world, I decided to create an autobiographical journal to record my personal experience as an Asian immigrant but also to share it with both insider and outsider of my community.

In order to do so, I carried my sketchbook with me everywhere I went and drew the people and places I encountered in my life, simply being an observer of my life.

Not only this experience made me see things I’d overlooked before, it allowed me to reflect on my past memories and struggles I’ve gone through, trying to find a place to belong.

Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety experienced being in the liminal state are expressed through layering paints, overlapping figures, and figures floating in the space. The layers are built with variety of mediums including oil paints, acrylics, and oil stick. In order to mimic the textures I get from working with colored pencils and paper, I used watercolor monotype technique: paint and draw on a silkscreen, using water soluble materials such as watercolor crayons, pencils, and watercolor.”

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Jordan McCracken-Foster
MFA in Game Development: Concept Art, Academy of Art University 

USA
@jo.mc.fo 

“As a concept artist, my work tends to be created either with a simple pencil and paper, or digital tools like a Cintiq or an iPad Pro. The challenge for me is not so much finding new and unique materials to work with, but finding new and inventive things to create.

My main goal as an artist is to tell stories, whether that be through a character, a prop, a vehicle, or an environment.These stories help shape the world that we live in, and they have the ability to stick with us many years after we made them. What I really love about what I do is that there truly are no limits, and I’m only bound by my own creativity.

There’s always something new to explore, always a new world to build, and there’s always another story to tell.In the future, I really want to be able to create my own projects with as much depth and life as some of the TV-shows, games, and films that inspired me as a kid.”

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Elisha Ann Cox
BFA in Fine Art, Plymouth University

United Kingdom
@elishacox_art

“I primarily work with sculpture and installation. Working with materials such as polyamide elastane, which is a lot like the material of tights, I usually work with that in nude, flour, daily objects, and other elastic materials such as bungee cord.

Working with sculptural installations, I focus my practice on how fat is perceived in the 21st century from a younger woman’s perspective. Focusing on this topic for the last few years has allowed me to evolve my practice and develop it to where I am today.

Growing up in a western society which is prejudiced towards the larger body, I have always felt lost and almost like I can’t talk about my body because I am fat. Our western society tends to encourage people to only talk about the fat body and fat as negative and I do not agree with this. 

I am hoping that within my work I can create conversations and encourage others to talk about fat and fat bodies in a neutral way and that through experiencing my work viewers may be able to view the larger body and fat in a different perspective.

In the future I am hoping to become a higher educational teacher and to be able to develop my practice on the side.”

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Sydney Bowers
MFA in Painting, New York Academy of Art

USA
@sydneybowersstudio

“In my oil paintings and pastel drawings, I combine feminine subject matter with surrealist and minimalist languages; art movements traditionally regarded as masculine. I isolate these objects in stark, semi-illusionistic space that also read as contemplative color-fields, somewhat inspired by contemporary advertising.

These precariously placed and hovering items indiscriminately vary from low-brow to luxury and from fully realized to a barely-there muteness. 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned at grad school is the importance of community. As I readjust to the ‘real world’ I am hoping to be able to establish a rhythm of working in studio and maintaining my artistic connections while returning to freelancing part time in the film/tv industry. Before grad school I was making my living as a Prop Master, which is a perfect outlet for my love of objects.”

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Katie McGroarty
BA in Intermedia, Edinburgh College of Art

Scotland
@katiemcgroarty 

“My work looks at the issue of ‘belonging’, what happens when we feel we belong, what happens when we feel we don’t. I am interested in the human condition in this way, how sometimes we actively make it ‘us vs them’ just so we can be part of an ‘us’, regardless of what we forfeit in the process.

I thought about Fouccault’s heterotopias and utopias, and if as working class people, we could ever build a space where we felt we belonged in the arts. In the current art climate, I am interested in how this will be received, as I don’t believe there is enough autonomy in the lower classes within the arts to execute the plan for this hypothetical world within our current means.

In my work, I use permanent marker as reference to the first independent creative practices of lower class people often being compared to vandalism and brushed off as recklessness or idle-mindedness. I believe if the same emphasis on creativity was issued to people of any background, there may be more lower class people within the arts. 

For too long, the arts have been reserved for the upper classes – leading to the art school populations we have now that are largely upper class and overwhelmingly white. Art is built on elitism, my hypothesis is that we could hypothetically build a world that embraces intersectionality and where everyone’s creativity is valued. The only catch is that the upper classes are not invited.”4

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Bernice Wang
MFA in Game Development: Concept Art, Academy of Art University 

USA
@redteapanda 

“As a concept artist I create characters, environments, and vehicles for games, movies and TV shows. When working on a character concept for example, I start out with thumbnails and focusing on shape design and keeping the story’s theme in mind.

After I get the thumbnail I want, I refine the shapes and style that would fit the personality of the character, prop, or environment and take it to polish. I use both traditional and digital media to draw out my concepts. I love creating vast fantasy and sci-fi worlds, and I want my art to always tell a story.

In the future I’d like to be working at a triple A game studio and making character concepts while also continuing to work on my own comic project.”

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Ziying Li
BFA in Fine Art, Maryland Institute College of Art

USA
@ziyingli-art 

“In my works, I want to show emotions that people often try to avoid, yet still a part of daily life. Therefore, I use drawings, animations, paper cutouts, and ceramics to create stories that express my thoughts about sadness, fear, and depression. The combination of different materials can express the different characters between real world and virtual world. 

Usually when I am making my works, I would first think about my personal experience for inspiration. I use my everyday emotions as a starting point and consider how these feelings might translate to my viewers. I believe that actually everyone has different selves hidden in their mind. Therefore, I design different characters which represent various and distinct feelings in order to share these dark stories.

I hope my works can be not only interpreted as a personal view of my inward world, but also as an outward representation of the human spirit. The viewers could see this experience of my inner life as an invitation to investigate their own spiritual world.”

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Clarisse Chua
BFA in Film and Video: Character Animation, California Institute of the Arts 

USA
@claweeese 

“My goal has always been to tell a good story. Growing up in a multi-cultural society like Singapore, inspired by the works of Miyazaki, Wes Andersen and Tolkein, I see myself often wanting to tell real stories through the lens of fantasy. Much of my work is inspired by cultures, myths and legends from said cultures.

I strive to learn more about the world and the different people it inhabits to further inform my art.

I have come to realise that even though we all have different backgrounds and upbringings, there are many universal stories and emotions that we all share. I hope to capture these emotions and characters in my work. No matter how specific a character and setting is, there are universal feelings that expand beyond different societies.

I have learnt the power of film and animation and I will continue to develop my skills in visual storytelling to tell the many stories I hold dear.”

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Francesca Bleay
BA in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University

United Kingdom
francescableayart.com

“Through transforming and opening up the perceptual possibilities of a medium, Francesca Bleay creates abstract paintings that seek a deliberate tension between chaos and control that are rendered in acrylic paint. 

By exploring painterly language that is informed by both contemporary and historic abstract painting, Bleay creates transcendent planes through layering a multitude of techniques that display her physical experience when painting. Each mark manifests into a reaction and response to another mark. Through this process, Bleay leaves the viewer attempting to reveal the beneath, behind, and the beyond. Bleay positions color in her paintings as a visual strategy that sits between abstraction and the viewer, allowing the viewer to access her painterly gestures through her carefully selected color choices.

In the future, Bleay hopes to have her own solo show and win some awards, but she is open to all possibilities within the arts.”

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Shyheem Gordon

BFA in Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art

USA
@shyheemg_art

“My body of work consists of paintings in both oils and acrylics with some additional sculptural elements. As a painter, I am drawn to the process of discovery and the physicality inherent in these mediums.

My work is centered on storytelling and community. Throughout my most recent bodies of work, I have been crafting fictional narratives that involve my coworkers, family, friends, and myself. These narratives specifically reference personal experiences and aspects of my life. It is important that through painting I am able to build relationships with the people and the environments I paint. In doing so I can facilitate friendships with my peers and revisit familiar spaces which connects me to the communities I occupy. 

I am influenced mostly by film, television, and comic books, all which serve as a starting point for the imagery in my work. I want viewers to be able to clearly understand the narratives presented in my paintings.”

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Rodrigo Costa
BFA in Fine Art, Coventry University

Portugal
@rcalcos_art

“I mainly work with sculpture, immersive installation, and performance. Everything I make has a really heavy DIY, amateurish sense to it. Usually, I start creating from found or cheap materials – no sketches or pre-drawings – building characters/costumes and immersive environments.

I’m more moved by instant shapes and relations between materials and colors, so I tend to work on diverse concepts as I go. Recently, I have been more drawn to exploring the possibilities of video performance and how this can be developed into immersive sets and installations for both myself and the audience.

I am interested in our ‘shared concept of childhood’: we have all been children at some point, which means we all know what it means and what it feels like. I believe reviving this concept might be a truly productive way of realizing how we could change some of our personal and societal behaviors in order to change the world.

In the future, I expect – after the current situation improves – to travel the world taking part in different residencies. I strongly believe that artists’ work grows from interactions with other artists, audiences, and spaces. This is why I see traveling as the perfect way to expand on my practice. It is great to learn more about other realities and ways of thinking about art and the ‘art world’ as well as about our shared concept of childhood.”

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Michael DiCiaccio
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
michaeldiciaccio.net

“I work mostly traditionally, with watercolor and colored pencil. I like watercolor because of its transparency, as I think much of the life from my illustrations comes from the line work, and I’ll often go back in with pencil after I finish painting to redefine my lines and do detail work.

I enjoy fantasy illustration, with all of its swords, enchantments, wizards, monsters, etc. Most of the reason I like to illustrate is because I love storytelling and want to give other people more worlds to get invested in, as well as inspire other people to do their own creating.

I really like to look at other stories and imagine the things happening around in the periphery, fleshing out and delving deeper into the world.

I hope my illustrations allow others to do that as well, giving enough to grab your attention but leaving space to wonder and imagine more. Above all, I’d like to be able to create stories that make people want to do their own storytelling.”

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Jamie Baker
BFA in Fine Art: Painting, Wimbledon College of Arts

United Kingdom
@bakerjamie

I am originally from Bristol, having moved to London in 2013. My work currently explores the realms of drawings as painting or painting as drawing and the differences we think about between them.

I am interested in how our way of thinking parallels the artistic practice. In the past I would create tense, over thought, and overworked pieces, but I have since relaxed and now take a looser, more spontaneous approach, which I believe represents something more honest.

My work stems from an emotion or a narrative I find interesting, often using a figure to carry, represent, and symbolize this. I think retelling and remembering stories offers some form of ancient wisdom as well as training ourselves to be more compassionate about other people’s experience. Melancholy is a particular interest of mine and in my work a sense of absence is recurrently present.”

Lockdown has provided plenty of time for reflection to consider our priorities and what we value from life. In these uncertain times I hope to remain in London for another few years, before moving back to my roots and family in Bristol. 

As well as continuing my personal art practice, I hope to work in an art space of some kind learning more about other sides to the art world. Working somewhere in nature would be equally rewarding as well as teaching younger generations and continuing the idea of passing on knowledge and stories. I like the idea of being multidisciplinary to keep me stimulated and explore as many things as I can.”

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Chelsea Summers
BFA in Photography in the Arts, Swansea College of Art

United Kingdom
chelspaigeart.wixsite.com 

“My creative themes within the artistic industry involve experimental strategies such as the darkroom and combining texture with expression. Ideally, I personally like to work with black and white, especially with film because of the intensity and movement that it can inhabit.

In the darkroom and using different art materials, there are so many possibilities that could be made and that’s what is so intriguing about it. I think with art and photography, I have this attentiveness to fabricate work that is quite personal and adding elements that transfer that is quite important within my art.

In regards to the future and my career as an artist, I would really like to continue with creating work that evokes the importance of emotions and how they could potentially deconstruct someone’s well being and mind set.

Having the ability to exhibit a collection of work in numerous galleries would be a great start in my development as an artist. Of course there’s always going to be growth and expansion but I have found my style and interests as an artist and photographer and I really hope I manage to somehow make a difference and change within the art community.”

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Isabelle Saxton
BFA in Apparel Design, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
@isabelle.saxton

“I want to use my thesis collection as a way to highlight sustainability and being environmentally responsible. My impossible dream is for everyone to be sustainable by choice, not by guilt-tripping people into thinking that it’s the best thing to do, so they do it for five minutes and then stop, but by educating them on the facts and allowing them to reconfigure their lifestyle to be more responsible socially and environmentally. 

I am inspired by the contrast between synthetics and nature, my community, my friends, and finding the beauty in despair. My mashup aesthetic comes from finding workman jackets in a scrap store and noticing the irony of them being the most attention-grabbing things on the street yet when a passerby sees them, they look the other way and pay them no attention.

I think this same irony is happening with sustainability which is why my fabric is from second-hand sources and my yarn is 100% naturally dyed Merino wool. 

Since I hold such stringent moral standards for the fabric and even the recycled thread I use, I want to contrast this with an air of light-hearted irreverence, both in my wearer and in the use of deliberately provocative language.

I use this kind of language to convey the urgency of the matter. I am extremely frustrated by the situation and issues surrounding sustainability so I am using my frustration to make art, to attract people, who are as passionate about it as I am, so that we can come together to design a solution. I want a community to form around my work, be informed and informative; a community that can stand out for sustainability while pioneering solutions.

I want all of my future endeavours to support this mindset. So, there are three main directions that I would like to pursue. The first would be to work as a celebrity or magazine stylist. Celebrities and fashion magazines have a huge influence over public opinion so using them to showcase sustainable designers would be an awesome move for the industry. The second would be to consult with and advise companies who have an interest in becoming more sustainable. The third would be to work for a sustainable company to understand the fashion industry standard for sustainability, and how these established companies navigate it.”

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Mariana Cruz
BA in Fine Art, University of Westminster

United Kingdom
@art_marianaycc

I work mainly with digital video. My work is inspired by the media that surrounds us. I have taken inspiration from reality shows, advertisements, and more recently, films. Female representation in the media is the focus in most of my work. I have also focused on our relationship with technology and consumer culture. 

In my latest projects I have been exploring different ways to connect with my audience, for example in my project Phone Booth XO I created an interactive video to introduce one of the characters.

In the future I plan to continue working on my films and experiment with new settings and different editing techniques. I would also like to work in a gallery as I would like to have my own gallery some day and represent artists from all ages and different backgrounds.”

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Jude Wood
BFA in Painting, Wimbledon College of Art

United Kingdom
judewood.co.uk

“At Wimbledon College of Arts UAL, I study ‘Fine Art Painting’ at a degree level and this is my 3rd and final year. Restoring guitars, bikes, and canvases in a dedicated studio keeps me motivated with a unique approach to materials and finesse. The daily ethos I have entails a vegan diet and plenty of exercise. I will always show punctual behaviour and enjoy my routine. Currently, I am unemployed and keen to progress in creativity, retail, mechanics, and sports.”

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Ruby Longoria
BFA in Photography, Texas State University

USA
@rubyubyuby

It’s a Long, Long Song

“Wake up, my love, wake up! See what has dawned – already the little birds are singing, and the moon has gone”  

“Since day one, my mother and I have been at odds. My delivery was risky due to my mother’s diabetes. ‘We were killing each other,’ as my mother puts it. The doctor had to perform an emergency C-section, leaving a scar that would become a permanent, physical manifestation of our struggle to coexist.

-from the traditional birthday song, Las Mañanitas (sung in Spanish)

I was born sick, still had jaundice when I got home, so she would bundle me up and place me by a window to soak up the sun.  It’s a Long, Long Song explores the beauty, love, struggle, and search for identity that has evolved through my relationship with my mother. 

Susan Sontag writes about the family photo album as a ‘portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness,’ going on to say that, ‘photography becomes a rite of family life just when…the very institution of family undergoes radical surgery’. Even as a kid, I was captivated by my mother as a subject (the polaroid from Christmas 1999, for example). It points to the visceral act of photographing my mother that continues to this day, reminding me that despite the tumultuous journey, my mom has often been the destination: something to be understood, or at the very least, seen. 

Growing up, my single mother worked a lot. Between me, my brother, her boyfriend, and the TV, we all competed for her attention. I needed her: the care, love, attention, guidance that I expected of her as a mother, and when she fell short, which was often, I resented her for it, and that gap between us grew wider. 

Nowadays, she’s eager to pose and sets aside time for this work, for me. And I am more forgiving, understanding, accepting. The camera has both witnessed and forged this dynamic, this bridge that at times I considered impossible. 

On birthdays, my mother sings Las Mañanitas, a classic song from Mexico that serenades the person being born, usually in the morning. They are encouraged to take in the day, soak up the sun and hear the birds sing; the moon is gone, you’ve left the womb. Although my Spanish is limited, when she sings this song ‘in our tongue,’ it reaches a place deep inside of me, a place that has always been there, that defies limitations of time, space, ego. 

It is that baby warmed by the sun, that misunderstood teenager, the adult who has come to admire my mother, our roots, our struggle. It is the part of me that is also my mother.”

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Madeleine Teh
BFA in Graphic Design, Rhode Island School of Design

USA & Philippines
fruits-of-labor-oracle.com

“The future isn’t set in stone, but soil.

From tarot cards to origami fortune tellers, humans have used tools to predict the future. Often, these predictions don’t come true. Occasionally, they do but in a roundabout way, barely fitting into our initial interpretations and surprising us.

Frankly, I don’t think that any of the aforementioned methods could ever fully predict the future. However, I believe that these futile, somewhat funny attempts are more telling of who we are right now than of our future. The fact that we would trust chance operations to ease our anxiety indicates a desperation to cope with life’s uncertainties.

As I sent applications to nearly a hundred companies and coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, I created the Fruits Of Labor Oracle Deck as a marker of my career’s uncertainty. I felt entitled to some kind of reward after four years of working incredibly hard to obtain an undergraduate degree.”

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Michelle Cortez Gonzales
MFA in Studio Art: Painting, University of Dallas 

USA
@_chellecg_ 

“My work reflects an amalgam of historical symbols along with my fragmented memories. Through sewing, constructing and painting from remnants left behind, I metaphorically recreate a history. I connect the act of making with the process of remembering. 

I am interested in how memory is formed and preserved through time and space. Each time recalled, memories are altered, shifting our experiences into an unstable or imaginary state. I explore the areas of memory that are obscured and contradictory, which challenges our ideas of our past and self.

We fill these spaces with sentimental objects, which we view as physical extensions of ourselves and allow us to reconstruct our memories. 

My constructed paintings reference family photographs of known and unknown figures. My process resonates with my content in the way I interlace materials and ideas. Various household textiles found in thrift stores are sewn together and layered over with painted imagery sourced from various photographs. Colorful and patterned fabrics are used to reference childhood, family, and home. I sew these mismatched textiles together as a symbolic gesture of linking a memory to a new and collective narrative. Sewing and juxtaposing painted imagery with implied and actual objects allows me to break up space within and outside the parameters of a painting. The work begins to occupy a liminal space of illusion and reality; erasure and recovery; celebration and separation; the known and unknown.

My use of multiple perspectives, saturated color, and imagery fade back and forth into different spaces to highlight the complexities and imperfections of a hazy recollection. I alter the perception of sentimental remnants, such as personal photographs, used bed sheets, found domestic furniture, etc., and what they represent through manipulation and reconstruction. Constructing the work with my hands and controlling the purpose of these remnants together with paint is an important part of healing past relationships and connecting to my history.”

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Geraldine Sawyer
BA in Illustration, Edinburgh College of Art

United Kingdom
@gertiesoybean

“Dance. It’s interactive, it’s freeing, it’s social and communicates a visual storytelling. The understanding of the body and its deliverance of feeling and expression is very important to me because as a person, I am spontaneous, confident, dramatic and social. 

From long winded projects to short ones, live drawing to spending time at my desk. I think I am more than capable of adapting my illustrations to suit a brief, no matter the conditions. Editorials sparked from taking part in live events, and exhibitions which led to designing posters for these live events.

As an illustrator I was to visually communicate that in my work and towards my audience. I use dancing figures within my work and try to depict the live events and places and people I witness in these social environments. The materials I use are pens, pencils, promarkers, Tombow brushes when I am live drawing on site. I enjoy being under pressure and drawing into the early hours of the morning with big crowds and high energy.

My best work is made. Also allows me to capture the best in people’s figures, expression, don’t have to rely on massive amounts of detail in the scale and measurements of the body. Very different to life drawing. 

I believe my target audience, people who enjoy dancing and club nights, people in their 20s/30s who understand rave culture and spend time listening to techno/house music are the same audience who listen to Boiler Room. I also believe that people much older, have related to this form of dance music. People who grow up in the 70s and 80s. A time of disco culture. 

Throughout our culture, human interaction has understood how important dance and social interaction is beneficial to our wellbeing. CLUBLAND was the final piece to my degree show. I wanted to encapsulate a wide audience. The dance matt consists of 9 squares, jigsaw pieces put together to form one foam dance mat. There are 8 forms of historically gathered dance styles. These are breaking, popping, vogueing/waacking, locking, house style, twerking/dancehall, new jack swing and krumping. An interactive piece that helps people to socially come together and celebrate dance. 

I think the work I made is so important to the current climate our society is in right now. People are reminding themselves of the importance of social interaction and I believe my illustrations are an important display of humanity and our constant need for one another. We will be able to dance again.”

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Christy OiYee Lam
BFA in Game Development, Academy of Art University

USA
@usagichristylam

“My major is Game Development and I focus on Game Character Concept Art, which means I do a lot of character based stuff. I design their clothing, weapons, vehicles, or props, and even different expressions, movements, and abilities for my characters. I enjoy painting figures and portraits. I do a lot of fan art in my leisure time. My works are mostly inspired by recent trends, pop cultures, and Japanese animations. 

In the future, hopefully I would be able to work for some game studio so as to get a chance to see my characters come to life. And my goal is probably to publish my art book one day. If you are interested in any of my work or willing to offer me a job opportunity you can follow my social media accounts or email me.”

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Amanda Booth
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
@amanda.k.booth

“I work in all kinds of materials but I love to use cut paper, pen and ink, and oil paint! I try to use my work to combine my worlds as a mental health worker with my art practice to tell stories that showcase themes of positivity, tolerance, and overall positive mental health.

I would love to work in the publishing world one day, especially in children’s literature, and I also write my own stories so I will hopefully bring those to you all soon!”

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Julieta Beltrán Lazo
BFA in Painting, Rhode Island School of Design

Mexico
julietabeltranlazo.com

“I am an artist who revises and re-imagines history. Through making – embroidering, painting, drawing, and writing – I examine my relationship to the celebrations and grievances that accompany Mexico’s recent history, approaching them from an effective subjectivity. Oftentimes my work starts with the creation of a subjective archive that mediates between lived experiences, my fantasies and fears, news outlets, family archives, and popular culture.

Some of the themes that I engage in my work are the increase of military presence, and how that affects our use of public and private spaces, gender violence and domestic violence in Mexico, and the different choreography of movement and gender performances that we engage with, ultimately challenging what my relationship is to the themes of my work and how they intersect my identity as a young Mexican woman.

In the future, I hope to continue developing my vocabulary as a visual artist, exploring different mediums, and to continue to develop work that is critical and that searches for ethical ways to engage with narratives of violence. I also hope to earn my MFA in a couple of years, because I would love to become a teacher at a higher education level, as I continue having my studio practice.”

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S.K. O’Brien
MFA in Ceramics, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
@ksaracera

“This past semester has been scary and weird and isolating but it’s also been really exciting for me because it’s allowed me to push my practice into new mediums and a richer understanding.

Whether it’s porcelain or plastic or industrial felt, what I do is build structures and then apply outside stressors to them. It’s the tension in the curve right before something fails that excites me. It gives me a better understanding of a material’s capability. About how to push and pull and pinch.

Finding the beauty in the materials misbehaving and understanding how to talk to them. It’s about capturing a moment in time. An action that is still and yet makes your mind dance. I’m really excited about what’s next.

I’m also graduating with a certificate in collegiate teaching and I’m looking forward to developing my practice as I help other artists to develop theirs.”

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Kelli Schooler
BA in Studio Art, University of Mary Washington

USA
@kellicreations

“I am an abstract painter and work in oil paint and acrylic paint. A lot of the time, I think art making is more about the process than the product. The reason I say that is because when you start to make something, there are so many considerations you have to think about.

You know, like ‘What material do I want to use? Do I want to use acrylic paint or oil paint? What about the color palette? What about the size relationship between the finished product and the viewer?’. And I think it can be kind of paralyzing at first if you’re thinking about all of these things and you’re like ‘Well, what if it doesn’t work out? What if this is a bad color combination or what if the scale didn’t turn out well, affecting the piece negatively?’

And so, the way I get around that is making experiments – like on little old canvas strips or paper or whatever – just to get the idea out and see what it looks like. And then I translate that into a successful piece. 

So, moving on from graduating I’m thinking about art therapy or becoming an art teacher – either K-12 or at the college level. But until I figure that out, my focus is just going to be on building an art community and entering the professional art world.”

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Lena Royalz Otterheim
BFA in Textiles, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design

Sweden
@lenaroyalz

“I work in a circular movement in my art, both in material and with the subject. I sketch in my work book. Look for information. Try different materials and write. Many times, I build something one day just to disassemble it the next in order to build something else.

I feel material, such as textiles, paint, plaster, metal and film. My work reflects a traditional craft influence. I think my work has different layers, gives different messages. – opposites. I start with textiles. Probably. With the textile as the main material I let any other craft flirt with my luggage. I question my work with my hands. Technically it is practice.

I am, first and foremost, a visual artist. In an ideal world I want to emotion all my senses and in the long run, the observers senses. My themes touch body, the environment, and heritance. A beautiful hybrid between realism and absurdity leads my work and gives it balance.

My work is not about slick filters. I don’t want it to be strange or weird for the sake of it. The observer is not present when I am in the making process but appears later. In the conversation that follows. It is Sculptural Textile Painting.”

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Lauren Havel
MFA in Painting, Alfred University

USA
@colorofherhair

“In this body of work, I am painting what I know through observation, photography and memory. While using a process that utilizes washy paint floating on a smooth surface, such as Yupo paper or a well sanded panel, I paint figures in vulnerable states to deal with ideas of solitude, stimulation and interpersonal connection. I am trying to synthesize memory, photography, observation, and invention in my paintings. 

Many of these works come from personal experiences; sometimes I am living my life not realizing that I will end up painting that moment, and sometimes I’m in bars photographing things that interest me. I take from my conscious memories and quick snapshots on my phone.

When I am lacking information, I ask a colleague or friend to pose for me so I can find proportions and perspectives that make sense. This also helps to make sure compositions are not ruled by the confines of a photograph. I use the image as a tool to help remember what attracted me to the scene. 

Sometimes the translation of the photo to the painting is very direct and sometimes the photo is just a means to get the gesture right. In my work I aim to represent people and objects accurately but not exactly. What I mean by that is I am not concerned with making a face look exactly like the person I am painting, but rather accurately convey the emotion and sensation that come from within the figure. I allow a line to represent a mouth and dots for eyes not as place holders but as suggestion; using very little information to express something as complex as human emotions. I feel that the simplicity of the short hand language I use lends itself to humor and gives the subjects a playful nature. 

I find the narrative to be an entry point into the painting. The washy translucencies pull you into a hazy psychological space, the narratives are quirky and invite viewers in with humor. My work is equal parts about the technique and materiality of painting as it is about these fleeting moments. Narratives help people navigate the world. They can gauge a sense of self, time or place. Our personal narratives and memories are intangible artifacts that we search for, but are just beyond our reach. The paintings are narrated from a sober, nonjudgmental, and observational point of view. Not to say the perspective is cold or analytical, but like a fly on the wall or a passing bystander. I invite the viewer to slow down and look at the little things in our periphery that go unnoticed. 

I get really excited when I’m in my studio and while applying a brushstroke my painting makes me laugh; I think sincerity is the crossroads of humor and painting. In order for a painting to be believable, it needs something true or genuine. For a joke to be funny, it has to be based in some sort of recognizable reality. The paintings in my thesis are exploring my own personal observations of people seeking emotional release. 

I paint bar scenes because they are enduring evidence of the human condition. The setting of bars in my paintings act as psychological spaces: limbo realms that offer freedom . I’m painting what happens when constraint is left at the door and inhibition is able to run wild and free. I paint the party, the sloppy aftermath, and the mundane events that happen in between. I paint the loneliness that is somehow still present in a crowded room. I paint the moments that were supposed to be fun. 

Although I will not have the exhibition I had planned for, I am thankful to be able to finish my MFA at Alfred University and I appreciate the experiences the program has given me. I had plans to move to New York City after school but unfortunately those plans have been put on hold until further notice. Until then I continue to enjoy painting from my home studio, experimenting with gouache on Yupo paper, and making paintings that excite me. I look forward to showing and sharing my work in whatever way I can, whether it’s through digital platforms like Art Prof or one day a gallery. I feel hopeful that this is just the beginning for me and my colleagues who are graduating.”

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Johan Schalin
MA in Ädellab/Jewelry, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design

Sweden
@thblkdr

“My way of understanding and mediate the value of making things by hand in a time of over consumption and bottomless spending. In this work I am trying to figure out how transactions, value and work of the hand connects in our society, a society that seems to be losing the ability of handwork.

My work is a mix of jewelry and objects that have a recognizable, in certain aspects a generic look. I’m working with symbols and images connected to everyday culture as the heavy metal rock scene, the influence of jewelry from ancient history in a pop cultural context, over insignia from the medieval European Royal Courts, to modern times consumer trinkets.

I’ve chosen the image of ‘The Hoard’, which can be read in different ways. A hoard could be a treasure or just a collection of things, trash or keepsakes with no intrinsic value.”

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Emily Turner
BFA in Fine Art, Norwich University of the Arts

United Kingdom
emilyturner.myportfolio.com

“My practice sits somewhere within architectural and artistic design. Over the past three years, I have begun examining thresholds and their impact on the narrative of a space. My minimalistic installations are activated through a participant. They aim to interrupt boundaries to guide and limit us to move in certain ways, playing with internal and external space to provoke a moment of reflection. 

I believe embodied experiences are a pivotal part of gaining knowledge. The structure’s transition from stand-alone art installations to interactive film sets; permitting the portrayal of alternative narratives. I often collaborate with other artists and performers, frequently involving costume. My aspired career is within Art Direction. 

My degree show project, Window, engages with the window as a framing device, controlling overlooked moments. Through cut out pathways, the installation guides and limits the participants’ movement. Once within the external is framed. Unable to materialise, I placed the structure digitally within environments, some ordinary, some extreme.”

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Josephine Dougan
BFA in Fine Arts, Lesley University

USA
@josephinedouganart

“My interdisciplinary studio practice includes textile, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and videography. Most of my process feels like a frantic chase to the punchline. I may never be fully satisfied with the end result, but out of these learning experiences come snapshots of each grasp towards it.

My printmaking and drawing process is usually the gunshot start of the race where the most obvious visual elements are expressed and ultimately become important symbols within whatever is the end result.

That 2D work then informs the sculpting or filmmaking processes and, then, likewise I may cyclically return to drawing after having been inspired by these other methods. 

Working with unconventional materials like nylon stockings, laser-cut plastic, couch cushions, or my own hair, I synthesize tradition with technology, horror with femininity, and domesticity with my Gen Z mentality. I use whatever medium best lends itself to these disjunctions.

Recently, I have bent traditional textile techniques to combine them with contemporary forms while primarily addressing the idea of unseen domestic labor, traditionally performed by women. Combing through domestic icons and deciphering how best to employ them to maximum effect, I work through the symbols, colors, environments, and mediums in order to get there.

The sensuality of textile so readily lends itself to concerns of gender and sexuality as well. I have been playing with implementing various degrees of abstraction in order to flirt with the uncanny and reveal the more sinister elements of what we are sold.”

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Emma-Jane Wilkinson
BA in Drawing, Falmouth University

United Kingdom
@e.m.m.a.j.a.n.e

“My work throughout my final year had centered around printmaking and learning to really enjoy the process of image making. Initially I was exploring themes of home, friendship and the comfort found in the everyday objects we surround ourselves with, finding a way to bring this sense of security from a domestic space into the studio. 

The explorations I’ve made in print allow me to move beyond traditional drawing techniques and I find myself having to relinquish control to let the materials I’m working with produce surprising results.

This term, my work has shifted more into finding a balance between concealing and revealing and the images that I’ve been creating lean much more towards the ambiguous and mysterious.”

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Madeline Rile Smith
MFA in Glass, Rochester Institute of Technology 

USA
@madhotglass

“I work with glass in a lot of different ways, and recently I have been using glass in performance as a way to explore interaction between people.

I make glass musical instruments that require multiple people to play. These instruments make the players stand very close to one another, and put the players in an intimate, humorous, and potentially awkward situation.

There are aspects of competition as well as collaboration to play these, as the player’s breaths mix together and work against one another to create a sound.  I’m curious about creating physical power dynamics, and asking the question “how close is too close?”

I also have been doing a series of performances with hot glass bubbles. In these videos, Instead of blowing a single bubble of glass, performers blow bubbles together to create a delicate interaction of breath. I love watching the bubbles come together and the membranes interact in seemingly infinite ways. 

In my final thesis body of work, I turn glass into delicate thread. I have a series of sculptures that I made by spinning hot glass at a fast speed into these cocoon-like structures, built up of thousands of delicate threads. The forms are airy and voluminous, but also massive and dense. 

In the future I would love to teach glass in a university program and share my love of glass and knowledge of the material with students. I also plan to continue my studio practice and keep exploring glass in weird and experimental ways.”

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Malina Sintnicolaas
MFA in Visual Arts, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Canada
@malinasintnicolaas

“Malina Sintnicolaas is a sculptural artist currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia. With a practice focused mostly in ceramic and fibre sculpture, her works are considered to be manifestations, transmutations, or petrifications of emotions into a physical form. Her practice is focused in ceramic sculpture due to the tactile nature of the material, the reciprocity of the medium which allows for a physical recording and translation of a gesture, and the immediate occupation of space. 

Both fiber and ceramics are materials that have an interesting contrast in properties, that they can be so strong yet so fragile at the same time, which correlates to the subject matter of her work, because like the materials, the human psyche is fragile, unpredictable, and difficult to maintain. 

Drawn to tactile materials, her work is questioning ways in which one can represent emotions such as depression, trauma, and anxiety with a physical form and in what was can one induce empathy for an object even if that object is alien or abstract. 

Working with texture, surface, material properties, and form, her sculptures are bodily, visceral, and drive to evoke feeling from the viewer, using affect to create an empathic landscape that will urge an understanding for states of mind which are difficult to be described verbally.

She received her B.F.A from York University, and is currently partaking in her Master of Fine Arts at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She is the recipient of the 2019 Audain Travel Award; the Won Lee Scholarship from the Sculpture Society of Canada, and has shown work in solo and group exhibitions internationally.”

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Nina Valdera
BFA in Art Education, Moore College of Art and Design

USA
ninavaldera.com

“My sculptures are connected to nature, spirituality, and light, which are all components of life. They are abstract in design and are created with wood, LED lights, and acrylic sheets.

My work is constantly evolving as I experiment with materials searching for new ways to reflect and diffuse light. The presence of light plays an important role in my work and how it affects the viewer. By contrasting darkness with illumination, I am creating a calming environment for reflection and meditation. 

I am pursuing my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. My ultimate goal is to teach art in higher education and create light sculptures for outdoor spaces.”

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Alicia Hughes
BA in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography, University of Wales Trinity St David

United Kingdom
@aliciahughesphotography

“The work you are currently viewing depicts my major project titled E X T I N C T I O N. The project explores themes of abstraction and distortion to comment on the loss of native British wildlife that fell victim to the destructive behaviours of mankind.

The species this project is centered around is the Eurasian lynx, a species that went extinct here in the UK due to over-hunting and habitat loss.

For my major project I decided to combine photography and installation to create a perceptual engaging piece, that viewers could interact with on a deeper more personal level. I felt that photography alone did not communicate the subject matter thoroughly enough.

The work is made up of 20 components all suspended form the ceiling, with the lynx’s natural habitat placed behind it. The purpose of using abstract shapes is to metaphorically symbolize how the species is now abstract and absent form its natural habitat, due to mankind. This project has been developed over a period of 9 months, with artists such as Michael Murphy exerting great influence on the final body of work. 

The conservation of endangered species is a subject matter I am very passionate about and is a future career aspiration I want to pursue. I hope that by steering my work practice down this route it will help lead me into that field of expertise, where I can continue to be an advocate for our planet’s wildlife.”

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Jane Gorelik
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
@wah.ah.ah

“I work in sequential art, telling stories through comics and animation. My favorite thing to do is exaggerated emotion. I like to bend reality around my characters to emphasize their mental state. The best part about animation is crafting your own universe where anything is possible, allowing me to jump from realistic settings to whatever fluid, exaggerated dreamscape I can think up.

I want to work as a storyboarder on kids shows and movies. Studios like Cartoon Network, Pixar, Disney, and Studio Ghibli had a lasting influence on me. I firmly believe that the media we grow up with shapes who we become – I want to be part of that.”

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Agnieszka Rostkowski
BA in Sculpture, University of Dallas

USA
geeshkart.weebly.com

“My idea throughout senior year was to combine both fashion and sculpture together. I decided to focus on the head for my thesis show because through the head we are connected with our humanity through body, soul, and mind.

Not only does the head give us access to the soul, but it also contains the most important organ that allows us to sense and process the world around us. 

Before the virus, I was creating headpieces that engaged multiple senses and were made from collected and mass produced items. I was using Adobe Illustrator, a laser, and various other machines throughout my studio to design my works while adding the mass produced elements to create some interesting headwear. As the work turned virtual, I ended up imitating found objects I had in my house through various online platforms.

I used Tinkercad to design this show and Lightwave to add color, texture, and shadows to give the headpieces more dimension. I enjoyed transforming these unassuming items into wearable sculptures because it gave these often overlooked objects a new sense of value. 

In the future, I would love to be part of the fashion industry in any way, even if it’s just through commissions, as well as have my own studio to create works that I love and share with the community around me.”

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Morgan Ogilvie
MFA in Art, California Institute of the Arts

USA
morgan-ogilvie.com

“While recently watching the satirical news segment, A Closer Look, I learned that television medical dramas are donating masks to the pandemic response. A parody accurately informed me that pretend doctors are coming to the aid of a real world wide medical emergency which should have been handled by a reality television president. 

Majoring in psychology as an undergraduate, I have been interested in mental illness for much of my life because my grandfather was a ‘paranoid schizophrenic’ who died homeless in San Diego.

Schizophrenia literally means ‘split mind’ from the greek roots schiz and phrenia referencing the split a person undergoes from reality. This precarious division between what is real and what is not real is at the heart of what I am interested in exploring. 

Yet, are we not now living in a schizophrenic environment based on the inundation of interruptive information? We are befuddled by the times and perhaps should question our own ability to make sense of the world around us.

With these preoccupations in mind, for my thesis titled ‘This is No Dream’ using oil on canvas, I have painted Mia Farrow from the 1968 film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, casting her as a muse for our cultural moment, an age of anxiety, where implausible conspiracies are possible, and social media blurs all epistemic boundaries. We are all, in some sense, Rosemary. We can be forgiven if, like Rosemary, we are confused as to what is a dream and what is terrifying reality.

But is her resulting ‘coming apart’ solely destructive? In this deranging era, creation and destruction co-mingle as never before. 

During the process of painting, I look at the same image for hours. This is the opposite of our digital day to day life in which everything is an interruption of an interruption. A brief moment is frozen, able to be lingered upon forever. Is this analogous to an obsession? The poet, Charles Simic, believes that it is the secret wish of all poets to stop time.

I look forward to continuing to paint figurative work exploring the themes of paranoia, delusion, madness, and reality.”

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Denise Flynch
BA in Painting, Queens College

USA
@fluffybanana

“There is a huge issue in America and most of the world, where black people are held to ridiculous stereotypes and myths that supposedly explain the issues we face.

For my senior project I will be focusing on exploring a couple of these issues. The two issues I will explore are the ‘black men don’t cry’ myth and the ‘absent father’ myth.

These are two issues that have plagued the black community for decades. They are used to blame black men for the serious issues we all face in America such as: the murder of innocent black men, low marriage rates, low higher education rates, high incarceration, etc.

After years of pushing the same narrative, black men are believing this is who they are, and it just is not.

These issues contribute to the way black men are treated and portrayed all over the world. I want to show how black men really live and interact, and to force the viewer to imagine these people in real life. I hope that my project will show the truth of who black men are and can be.

In my first piece ‘Putting (Black) MEN in MENTAL Health’, I am depicting a scene of two black male friends riding a NYC train. They have fallen asleep and are leaning on each other supporting each other up. I made a point of changing the ad behind the two figures to show the importance of mental health for men.

The sign reads ‘Putting MEN in MENtal Health’ which links to the title and the point of the piece. This shows that black men do not need to fear vulnerability. It also shows that these two black men even though they are thought of as dangerous to a large portion of society, they actually have a soft adorable side. 

In my second piece, ‘My Fathers Grace’, I have depicted a serene scene of a father and son sitting at a desk working on homework together. The son is seen a bit frustrated while his father helps him gently. I would like the viewer to get the feeling of their own father or father figure, and how they were helped to get to where they are now. I also hope the viewer can look at this painting and have the feeling that it is completely normal to see a black man in this type of position. 

It is important to spread the positive images we wish to see and see in everyday life. I also wanted to place these figures in an upper middle-class environment by showing a window exposing their large backyard and pool. This was important because I want to show black boys and young black men that it is possible to achieve this kind of lifestyle.

There are many young men who believe it is normal to grow up in projects and that it is only a select few who are privileged to have a nice home and family. I believe showing these types of environments connected to black men who are not sports stars or rappers is very important.”

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Cindy Zhang
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA & China
@xindizhangart

“I’m a concept artist and visual developer for the entertainment industry.

My ideas usually came from stories I created or heard from other people. Based on the story I worked on, I would start to research references related to the story. After that, I would do some rough sketches and polish good ones with more photo references. When the world excited me a lot, I would transfer the 2D concepts to the 3D space. 

In the future, I want to join game or animation studios as a concept artist or visual developer. My goal for the further future is to art direct a project and ship it to the public.”

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Min-Ji Kim
BFA in Textiles, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
mjkim.myportfolio.com

“My degree project stems from a specific memory of mine when the river next to my house turned completely bright red due to illegal dye pollution. This embarked my research and odyssey of exploring a dire subject into something more visual, empowering, and significant.

The River is Red is a collection of 5 garments each portraying specific issues and nuances that I find most important to convey at this time. The visual narrative and vocabulary, consisting of personal experiences with scientific research of the current environmental situation of my home, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea, is a visual exploration of form through pattern, colour, material, and structure.

My collection dabbles with elements of Retrofuturism in form, structure, and colour. Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Although sustainability is focused on maintaining the present, it is a concept perceived today as futuristic.

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The optimistic view of the distant future of Retro Futurism  carries the same aspects of how sustainability is examined today as something in the vast future, unattainable, primitive, and illusive. By utilizing the dreaminess captured in the concept of retro futurism, I’m portraying the nature of sustainability through materials and form. 

  • Chapter one: Liquidation

The bubbling heat of dye pumping hot into a river, creates foam like properties that wash ashore and propagate toxic fumes and secrete lethal chemicals into drinking water. I wanted to juxtapose a contained, rigid, heavy structure with a large light structure to create the look of these bubble-like foams. Materials used are all from the R.I Recycling Centre

  • Chapter two: Nets for Bones

The monofilament fish nets that are dumped in the ocean, due to the lack of care of fishermen, depletes any ecosystem that lives on the floor of the sea. By studying the Red Goby fish, a fish I have personal memories with and is currently extinct, I took inspiration of the garment’s form from the transparent and skeletal body of the fish. Materials used are from R.I Recycling Centre. 

  • Chapter three: Foreign Garden

The botanical garden in Singapore that glorifies the architecture and European botanics that grazed the local rainforest in order to exhibit the country’s international relations and economic status. The pattern developed for this piece is overbearing, loud, and complicated that juxtaposes the 3D printed infrastructure, representing the “futuristic” architecture, that is smaller in scale.

  • Chapter four: Leaking Red

The movement of water from the red river, where layers of dye are secreted to cover the clear waters that lie underneath. I am using sheer printed and painted fabrics to create the effect of how water intercedes each other whilst studying the overall form and shape of the river. Some materials used are from R.I Recycling Centre. 

  • Chapter five: Spine for a Breath

The relationship with my grandma who used to be a Hye-Nyeon (sea goddess), a freediver, and an environmental advocate. The free divers do not use any equipment due to the oxygen tanks affecting the fragile and vulnerable ecosystem in the ocean, and plant coral seeds to stimulate coral growth. The form is inspired by her identity vest she wore when she swims in groups with the other women divers, the 80’s diver suits, and the harness she wears now due to her back being broken by the pressure of the ocean. 

In the grand scheme, I hope my garments will shed light on the environmental issues that are incredibly prevalent to my home and culture. I believe that knowledge is the most powerful tool that we artists have, as we all have the power to create art that catches the common eye to teach and educate information that is easily disregarded or unseen today. By using elements of my own culture, personal memories, and retrofuturism, I hope to bring more spotlight to the prevalent and dire environmental situations that are in need of critical attention.”

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Kim Truesdale
MFA in Studio Art, Lamar Dodd School of Art

USA
kimtruesdale.myportfolio.com

“My work is multimedia. Primarily I use polymer clay, metal casting, and screenprinting. Observing how the conservative Southern women in my family adhere to traditional gender roles prompted my investigation in the loss of women’s identities and individuality.

After a loved one, who was a homemaker, was subjected to a tragic and mysterious case of neglect leaving her in a diabetic coma for several days, I looked for physical, societal, and psychological evidence. 

Thus, the portraits that emerged in my installation ‘Did You Get Enough?’ are from family scrapbooks, found photographs, and a series of 1950s and 1960s Future Homemakers of America scrapbooks. The sensory organs of the ‘future homemakers’ are suppressed as a means of expressing subjugation and sensory deprivation.

Food functions in many complex ways in the lives of women. Untold stories and sugar- coated secrets consume women from the inside out. Overeating can be a way to fill an emotional void, creating a false feeling of fullness or temporary wholeness or in a positive way, food can represent nurturance and love towards others.

The miniature trompe l’oeil food sculptures in my work are based on memories from my mother and grandmother’s kitchen and nostalgic American cuisine. These food sculptures not only symbolize the familiar and staying in your comfort zone but also a societal or personal barrier that I hope these women choose to reject.”

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Jeff Leavitt
MFA in Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology

USA
jeffreyleavitt13.wixsite.com 

“My current line of work focuses on the cyclical and often futile nature of human existence. I illustrate this futility with the use of uniform, toy-like robots of my own design. I use the image of these robots in paintings, sculptures, and multimedia pieces.

One of the primary influences for this body of work was the 1942 philosophical essay, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus,’ by Albert Camus. Camus discusses the futility of the human condition, comparing it to Sisyphus from Greek mythology endlessly pushing his boulder up a hill. 

I am also intrigued by the designer toy community. Artists in this community often reuse the same image repeatedly in their work. It is akin to a ‘tag’ used in graffiti art. For my work, I likewise repeat the same image of the toy-like robot until it becomes my own ‘tag’ and brings myself into the viewing experience to create a connection with the audience.

The robot represents me, my artwork, and the relationship between. My goal for the work is to invoke relatable experiences for the viewer by illustrating my own experiences growing as an artist. Though the imagery in my work is tied to my own artistic journey, I intend for the scenarios to be universal enough that others may relate to them as well, bringing their own contexts into the work. 

My research has led me to consider the value of tonal dissonance in my artwork, creating two contradictory feelings that are allowed to exist simultaneously. I place my robots in scenarios that highlight the futility of their existence, but at the same time also show humor and positivity.

The colorful and vibrant nature of the pieces masks darker conceptual undertones. Rather than fight against each other, these two qualities work in tandem. Though the pieces are intended to have somewhat somber under tones, I wish for the initial reaction to the work to be that of amusement and playfulness, hopefully putting a smile on the viewer’s face.”

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Greer Cooper
BFA in Jewelry Design, Pratt Institute

USA
@_patheticjeweler

“I chose to use my senior thesis to question how the American government values a human life. In this dangerously unpredictable time where humanitarian atrocities flash through the news cycle as fast as a heartbeat, I wanted to display my discomfort with the current political climate by examining four key issues: lack of gun control, infringement on reproductive rights, for profit detention centers at the border, and police violence towards children of color.

Through this series of ironic jewelry, I hope to challenge people to reevaluate how they react to tragedy and spectacle, and how intertwined the two have become in the media. Using iconic imagery and a mix of collected items and precious metals I am forcing political statements through wearing. ‘How does the American Government value a human life?’ We already know the answer to this question. It doesn’t. I wish to prevent history from repeating itself and move on to make personalized jewelry for those with strong ideas.”

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Tammy Stahl
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
tammystahl.net

“I have worked in many 2-D media before but right now I am focusing on creative typography, artist books, and black and white line drawings. My drawings and writings surround themes of climate change, corruption in politics, and the flaws in human nature.

Art, for me, has always been a means to an end – that end usually being to make people think, self-reflect, or just feel something. That is why I have and will continue to use my art to make real political changes in this country. I have defined myself as an artist, an educator, and an activist, and eventually I hope to return to school as a professor.

Until then, wherever my path takes me, I will use my art to aid in the fight for justice, to educate others, and to save this planet.”

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Emmi Avergren
BFA in Textiles, Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design

Sweden
www.emmiavergren.com

“I am taking my BFA in textile art and I am a fashion and textile designer as well as a conceptual artist. For my bachelor exam project I made a vegan fashion collection which I then presented as a conceptual art film. I want to show that you can make fashion without exploiting and killing animals in that process. The materials are hand dyed and painted and vegan. The jacket that I am wearing in the video is one example from the collection.

I wanted to replace fur with a vegan material and this was the result. The film is a combination of fashion, activism and veganism. It’s a critique against how we treat animals in society today. It’s inspired by surrealism and it’s multiple worlds in one. It’s a dystopia and a utopia at the same time. In the future I want to work with vegan fashion and animal rights combined.”

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Mishelle Kim
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
mishellekim.myportfolio.com

“I am currently a storyboard artist who has recently graduated from Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. My work mainly consists of childhood stories of me and my older sister giving my mom grief growing up.

I like to draw inspiration from being a second generation Korean American and the cultural and generational gaps in our family that we have to live with.”

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Natalie Ma
BFA in Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

USA
nataliema.net

“I work with themes of queerness, growing up, youth, fantasy, identity. I create comics and storyboards. I hope to work in the animation industry as a storyboard artist. I like to draw inspiration from being a second generation Korean American and the cultural and generational gaps in our family that we have to live with.”

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