Senior Thesis Exhibitions Start This Week (through April 21)

“figures” by Ilyana Schwartz ’13

For the next four weeks, Wesleyan will celebrate the talents of seniors in the Art Studio Program of the Department of Art and Art History.  There’s a new exhibition every week, with opening receptions every Wednesday from 4pm to 6pm. This week (through Sunday, March 31) features theses by Allison Kalt, Tiffany Unno, Ilyana Schwartz, Anna Shimshak and Christina You. CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked to Tiffany Unno and Anna Simshak about their work in the exhibition.

Week one of the Senior Thesis Exhibitions includes diverse media, from process-focused wood blocking to conceptual photography. Earlier this week, Tiffany Unno and Anna Simshak took a break from installing and chatted with me about their work. Ms. Unno’s  “Excavations” disintegrates the boundaries between drawing, print-making and sculpture, and Ms. Shimshak’s “Translatio Corporis” is a photographic thesis that provides an intimate examination of Catholicism in a modern world.

Tiffany Unno’s work pushes the boundaries of what one can do with paper. When you first look at it, it seems so certain of itself; beautifully organized chaos. Ms. Unno managed to successfully create work that is conceptual without being intimidating. It is fascinating to hear that there was so much difficulty and irritation in her process this year. Ms Unno explains that her work “came out of irritation—a frustration that turned into something more.” After many trials in which she hated the outcome, she explains, “I decided to not think of my thesis as a thesis with deadline [and] to undo my critical learning and questioning everything I do. I was at a point where I need to fix how I make art now instead of 20 years from now. Thesis is a time to intensely explore and not lock yourself in.” She began to think of her work as “an extension of creating” that “unravels what I learned [formally].”

Ms. Shimshak’s work delicately investigates Catholicism in her own life and in the lives of others. “This photographic body of work was inspired by my upbringing. I was brought up Catholic, not strictly traditionally Catholic, but I grew up religiously. It was something that I grew apart from as I got older, and I began to realize, especially through art, that it did affect how I grew and how I saw the world. I was interested in what Catholicism meant with regards to modernity. How do you reconcile a 2000 year old institution with a modern society that really wasn’t conceived of when the religion was created? I have been spending the majority of my time with members of the church, mainly clergy members and nuns, to figure out how the individual is influenced by religion, especially living so thoroughly in religion (after taking vows). How does [clergy life] affect your perception of self and God?”

Ms. Shimshak focused on capturing the sentiment of individuals that she spent time with; she never spent less that a full day shadowing an individual before photographing them. The photographs are “not documentary but metaphorical—[there is a] heavy stint towards gesture. I think [gesture] is the best way to convey both a sentiment and an action, and to capture the psychology of a situation.”

Senior Thesis Exhibitions
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown
Tuesday, March 26 through Sunday, April 21, 2013 from Noon to 5pm
All receptions are from 4pm to 6pm

Tuesday, March 26 through Sunday, March 31, 2013
Reception: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Allison Kalt, Tiffany Unno, Ilyana Schwartz, Anna Shimshak, Christina You

Tuesday, April 2 through Sunday, April 7, 2013
Reception: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Piers Gelly, Zoé Albert, Ally Bernstein, Ryu Hirahata, Charles Ellis, Nicholas Kokkinis

Tuesday, April 9 through Sunday, April 14, 2013
Reception: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Melissa Arroyo, Christian Lalonde, Emily Schubert, Kerry Klemmer, Ethan Cohen, Marissa Napolitano

Tuesday, April 16 through Sunday, April 21, 2013
Reception: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Alahna Watson, Adam Forbes, Caitlin Palmer, Arin Dineen, Jessica Wilson, Kevin Brisco