Editor’s Note: These interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Theses are usually somber affairs — a thick stack of papers to show for many hours of intellectual thought. But the senior art thesis presentations take a different form. Amongst the cubes of cheese and bread nestled comfortably in a fully white Worth Ryder Art Gallery in Kroeber Hall, the Senior Thesis Exhibition of the Art Practice major takes form more as a celebration of a tangible manifestation of emotions, an exhibition of a culmination of experience. I spoke to the artists at the opening of their exhibition about the inspiration behind their polished work.
AI: “There was a long succession of thoughts that led me to create this piece, but I guess I could just talk about the mound first. I was thinking about this enshrinement of objects, this relationship between people and objects and how these trophies are symbolic of my sort of indoctrination into society. They symbolized things that taught me how to be a functional member of society, how to work as a part of a team. But this collective bed of objects, it’s like a memorial, it’s like a burial of a past self. And in this video of my roommate (Charlotte Nugent) playing the violin inside, I was thinking about it like a type of ancient sarcophagus lid and how the lids themselves are intended to transport the person into the next life. And how (Nugent) as the angel is the perfect person to be the new idealization or reinterpretation of this western canon. She is inviting me into this new world, this new life beyond what was my old one, with the sports in the past. This new idealized form of modernity for myself.”
DC: What would you say you’re heading towards in this piece?
AI: I think acceptance. Openness.
DC:What do you like most about your piece?
AI:I really enjoy how there can be one person viewing the piece, but when they’re viewing the piece they actually become a part of it. I think that’s an interesting mediation between the normal spectator and object relationship.
JL: As an artist, I’m more conceptual, and I’m interested in design and systems mapping. I wanted to visualize information. It wasn’t until I was with my parents and some of my family that just immigrated to America hearing my father talk about the mere process of sponsoring our family to come to America (that I realized this) was the system I wanted to approach.
It was a really long process that was information-heavy. (I researched) how to become a citizen and the massive complexities.. I started making mind maps and working with the information and (it) became this huge heated thing that I knew I couldn’t solve myself. I got stuck and lost in what I was looking at. I had to take a step back and look at why I cared about this project and why I cared about this topic. I think back to my family and the most prominent factor of immigration that stands out to me is the separation of families and the separation that occurs between a parent and their kid when they don’t even share the same language. Design is for the creation of understanding, and I realized that was the gap that I wanted to fill. I crafted a method for people to exchange letters about immigration.
ES: I’ve recently become a painter; it’s a new thing for me. I did oil paint on canvas. And I’m big into animal rights and how we’re treating the animals. Also, I wanted to capture the ferociousness of the piece, and this is my senior reflection on how I got to where I am. I think that it’s a collection of the emotions and feelings of what I’ve felt this semester and to be graduating this semester.
DC: So what really stands out to you?
ES: I think I’m most proud of the tiger; I spent the most time on that. It was a very technical process. I’m also really happy with the spatial layout.
DC: If you could tell people who are walking by one thing about your piece, what would it be?
ES: It’s a reflection of myself and who I am and reflects how everyone is a hybrid of emotions that can come together.
Three watercolor paintings of human figures, each looking pained
LN: My three pieces are called monophobia, which is the fear of being alone. I think that everyone can kind of relate to this idea at some point, everyone has gone through a time when they felt really alone. Just anything of that sort. This time for me was when I lost my parents when I was really young; I wanted my piece to explore the emotions I was feeling after I lost them.
DC: What did you like most about creating this piece?
LN: I am still pretty new to watercolor, and being able to experiment with a new medium like this was really rewarding.
MW: My piece is basically inspired by dreamscapes, and it’s called Pareidolia Dreams. Basically it’s like when you see faces, objects, birds — anything that are in trees, rocks, water, and you recognize it as being another entity. I tried to make my dreams tangible, in short. People can also play with it and maybe see what they see in my dreams, perhaps they’ll see kitties or reminisce on their childhood.
DC: What would you like people to know about your piece?
MW: In the same way that this is made out of polymer clay, if you don’t know what to begin with, you can keep exploring and molding, like I did with this clay. Sooner or later, you’ll see something. It will eventually turn into a final piece. I want people to know that you don’t need the title “artist” to create something; you can start from anything and make something. I want people to see whatever they see in it, there’s no right or wrong, it’s whatever first comes to their mind.
AG: This video projection that I made includes footage of various protests and demonstrations I wanted to tell a story, one that isn’t necessarily mine, and project these images of a shift in culture onto these sewn canvas cubes, arranged to look almost like rubble and debris. I wanted to show the representations of a fallen structure, but also include elements of hope and possible rebirth — as these are America’s building blocks.