“It’s More than Just an Attractive Picture On a Wall”

By Melissa Dognazzi

Senior Art Thesis
You enter an art gallery, and you look at the pictures on a wall. Cocking your head to one side, you think, what does this even mean? It’s not unusual for an artist’s audience to ask this question. In fact, it is actually their very intent. In this year’s Annual Senior Thesis Art Show, Worcester State University’s ten participants shared their personal stories not through their words, but through their art.

The exhibit, held in the Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery, featured some of the best works from Worcester State seniors’ Capstone projects. Although each senior had a different artistic approach, each artist presented their personal testimonies through a variety of visual mediums. Detailed in their statements, their topics included: struggling with gender identity, gender dysphoria, sexism, child abuse, economic consumption, and mental disorders.

With such heavy topics to inspire artistic interpretation, it was no surprise that the pieces were transformative in nature. Constructed through some of the most basic means, each work eloquently presented a compelling motif.

Mediums of all kinds – plaster molds, paintings, photography, graphic media, and everyday items like newspapers and toy bears were fascinatingly used to illustrate their messages. Both two and three-dimensional pieces were displayed. Some artists even infused both their physical and visual pieces to enhance the overall fluidity of their collections.

The semester-long project offered seniors the opportunity to explore their potential in other areas of thought. Shannon McGinty, noted for her beautifully molded plaster sculptures on display, shared her experience with the independent project.

“It gave the artists freedom to do what they wanted,” she said. “It was tedious, but it allowed us to show the true devotion we have to our work.”

For senior Kristine MacBrian, it was all about content. With the ability to mingle among different forms of media, she ventured out of her trade into photography, and new focus was brought to the surface.

When discussing her collection of self-portraits, MacBrian says, “At first glance you see different people, but you really have to inspect it to see it’s really just me.”

The heart of numerous works in the exhibit embody the idea of eliminating objectivity about certain subjects. It gives these artists a chance to express complex themes artistically. The artist’s role among these interpretations are key to understanding the body of the work.

“It’s like reinventing the selfie,” MacBrian says. “It’s more than a picture. It’s sentimental. It’s a self-portrait, a painting of who you are as a person.”

With such a strong sense of identity seen among many of the seniors, it is nearly impossible to disconnect intense meaning and emotion from their work.

“People are canvases, and we paint on our ‘war paint’ everyday,” MacBrian explains.

Although the displays were a success, they proved to have their share of difficulties. McGinty related her troubles with the project, explaining that she had a few incidents while hanging her pieces for display. However, as overheard commentary explained, “devastation sometimes brings forth unexpected beauty,” as it had for this senior.

On a congratulatory note, MacBrian and other students have been invited to display their works at the Sprinkler Factory, another notable art gallery in Worcester. This will be the first time VPA scholars from Worcester State have been able to do so.

The 2015 Senior Thesis Art Show runs from April 23 to May 5 in the Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery, found on the first floor of the Ghosh Science and Technology building on campus. Hours run Tuesday through Friday from 11am to 5pm, and Saturday from 1p.m. to 5p.m. Stop by to support the following seniors: Nicole Atchue, Nicole Elias, Isaac Fontain, Aynsley Goodness, Brianna Howe, Kristine MacBrian, Shannon McGinty, Frank Quartarone, and Justin Sliwoski.

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