Graduating fine art students are celebrating the culmination of their education at Wright State University with the Senior Thesis Exhibition in the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries.
The Senior Thesis Exhibition is the capstone event of Wright State’s B.F.A. program and a graduation requirement for all fine arts majors. The exhibition has traditionally been the Stein Galleries’ final show of the academic year.
“As a department, we think it’s extremely important that students not only participate in a professional gallery exhibition before they graduate but that they have the opportunity to see the fruit of their labors,” said Glen Cebulash, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “The students work hard throughout their time here, and we want that hard work to be acknowledged, not only by their instructors but their peers and the public at large.”
Visitors can view the Senior Thesis Exhibition in the Stein Galleries on Fridays, April 23 and 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 24, from 1 to 3 p.m., and by appointment by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Stein Galleries are also featuring artwork by participating students on its Instagram account.
“It’s great to see the work in the space. It feels good to be able to engage with it physically in person and to connect with people too beyond a Zoom meeting,” said John Dickinson, associate professor in sculpture.
Abbi Fifield, a photography concentration student, said it means to the world to her to have her artwork displayed in the Senior Thesis Exhibition.
“I am filled with joy to be able to say that I have artwork on display in a professional gallery,” she said. “The body of work that is hanging in the gallery is some of my best work and drives me to continue to do what I love.”
Charles Wright, a painting concentration student, said he is also proud to have five works in the exhibition. “It’s meaningful to see my work in the Stein Galleries where I have had the opportunity to study priceless works of art during my time at the university,” he said.
The exhibition returns to the Stein Galleries a year after the Department of Art and Art History canceled the 2020 show because of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest casualties of the pandemic has been the shuttering of fine and performing arts spaces, Cebulash said.
“We were distraught last year when we were resigned to an online exhibition of our graduating seniors and were determined to have a real show this year, even if we had to limit accessibility to comply with COVID restrictions,” he said. “The students and the faculty pulled together to make sure we could have a real, in-person show, and we’re thrilled with the results.”
The pandemic presented many challenges for students and faculty in the Department of Art and Art History.
“All instruction is difficult under the restrictions the pandemic put in place, but it is particularly hard when the foundation of your education is hands-on and experiential, and where a cornerstone of that education is the interaction with other young artists,” Cebulash said. “I’m proud to say that our students met the challenges of the pandemic with grace, fortitude and creativity. The quality of their work is a testament to their resilience and their imaginative determination.”
Fifield said fear of COVID-19 and the shutting down of many places made it challenging to find inspiration.
“But because of this, it led me to change my perspective about the things around me,” she said. “This work represents that change and growth I had faced as an artist.”
Wright said the faculty did a great job with the difficult task of teaching studio arts while also making students feel safe.
“I was inspired by the response of faculty to use any technology at their disposal to continue to teach and impart their passion for the arts over this last year,” he said.
The Senior Thesis Exhibition features 64 works created by 17 students, including three students from the class of 2020, during their time at Wright State. Works from all areas taught in the department — painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and photography — are showcased.
Each student submitted 10 works that were then reviewed and selected for exhibition by faculty members in each of the department’s disciplines. The exhibition is curated by Dickinson, Cebulash and Jeremy Long, associate professor in painting and drawing.
Participating artists in the Senior Thesis Exhibition are Jessica Duckett, Abbi Fifield, Emily Florkey, Ryan Hammond, Mark Harbaugh, Rannetta Harris-Richardson, Casey Hixon, Anna Long, Nour Shubar, Libby Slauenwhite, Nicole Smith, Jessica Sibio, Kyndall Trickett, Carlos Omar Vallejo, Haley Walton, Ian Warner and Charles Wright.
More information on the Stein Galleries is available at wright.edu/artgalleries.