AUGUSTA — Graduating art students at the University of Maine at Augusta are exhibiting their works in an all-online Virtual Senior Thesis Exhibition that began May 9.
The virtual exhibition will be followed by a bricks-and-mortar exhibition in the Charles Danforth Gallery set to open Sept. 6. The five artists, Marcea Crawford, Shana Rowe Jackson, Evan Lord Martin, Jenn Messier and Becky Pass have spent months preparing their thesis projects, first in UMA’s studios, and then in their home studios as campus access was limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The all-online Virtual Senior Thesis Exhibition highlights the perseverance, resilience and creative achievements of this year’s graduates in extraordinary times.
Encompassing a wide variety of media, formats and scales, the works included in this year’s exhibition are, as artist Pass explains, “built on endurance.” Pass, whose mixed-media paintings on linen bath blankets convey her experiences of the daily struggles with anxiety, depression and PTSD in her works, says the colorful blankets “represent the disorder and chaos [she] experienced, while shape and line bring balance to these compositions, restoring a semblance of order.”
Crawford’s five eight-foot large wheat-paste murals powerfully reflect Crawford’s experiences with domestic abuse and her survival.
Messier’s works frame “surrealistic domestic scenarios” wrought from the disconnect between the slick perfection of fashion magazines and the more complicated and uncomfortable realities that transitions, from childhood to adulthood to parenthood, can bring.
Martin has a sensory processing disorder that can render the world “a fury of mental and somatic noise.” His video works seek “to articulate unrefined states of mind without using words in a traditional way.”
Jackson’s series of realistically-rendered skies frame an idealized plane high and perfect above the challenges below. “Through creating, I have been able to move past the negativity in my life,” Jackson says, “I create the world that I want to see.”
These works, forged from the artists’ individual experiences, artistic training, and many hundreds of hours of work in the studio, are well-suited to our time. Now exhibited in the virtual sphere we all occupy in these physically-distant times, this year’s Virtual Senior Thesis Exhibition shows how this year’s graduates have, before the pandemic era and during, turned difficulty to art.
The 2020 Virtual Senior Thesis Exhibition is on view at Danforth.UMA.edu. The virtual exhibition will be followed by an exhibition in the Charles Danforth Gallery opening at 3 p.m., Sept. 6. Follow Danforth Gallery on www.facebook.com/umadanforth, using the handle @UMADanforth on Instagram, or by visiting our website at danforth.uma.edu to stay current with events related to this exhibition and others.
PHOTO: Shana Rowe Jackson, “Gaining Perspective,” 10″ round canvas, acrylic on canvas. (Submitted photo)