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Pullen Gallery features 2017 Fine Art Senior Thesis Exhibitions

The University of Maine at Presque Isle Fine Art Program recently held two solo exhibitions developed through the 2016-17 Fine Art Senior Thesis Exhibition course. The series of exhibitions were hosted in the Pullen Art Gallery between April and May.

The Fine Art Senior Thesis Exhibition, a six credit, academic-year-long course, is a capstone to the BFA program. The rigorous course of study is unique to most statewide BFA programs. The Senior Show allows enrolled students to have an experience similar to a graduate school environment. Students are required to prepare a body of work for the solo exhibition and defend it orally and in writing, in order to graduate.

The students featured this year were Monica Quist and Mollie Hicks.

Mollie Hicks’ exhibition opened on April 27 and ran through May 3; a reception was held on April 28. In her show, she questioned sexism in contemporary culture and media by directly relating the issue to sexist themes in paintings created in cultures that might be considered “outdated.” Her work reimagined paintings that are famous, but not necessarily controversial, by replacing the women in those paintings with her self-portrait. She hoped to uncover themes that should be controversial and show the importance of understanding sexist messages in media and their effect on female identity.

“I wanted to showcase that the casual spread of sexism through any type of platform affects all women, and thus, me personally,” Hicks said. “I rendered my self-portraits in charcoal and the background remains paint to create a disjointed feeling between the black and white figures and the renaissance style oil paintings. This makes the point that, while these figures are obviously playing a role inside these environments, they never truly feel like they belong.”

Monica Quist, a native of Limestone, opened her thesis exhibition on May 4 and held a gallery talk on May 5 during the First Friday Art Walk. The exhibition ran through May 13. Her work focused on how humans connect individually and with each other, while questioning human relationships with technology, and the importance of creating balance between what is virtual and tangible. She reflected on the four main aspects of natural connection: eye contact, physical touch, listening, and playing.

“To start the conversation, I create figural images on handmade wooden panels. On some of the pieces, I include string or gel transfers to symbolize the connections that are generally invisible or not thought of in our day-to-day lives,” Quist said. “Our perspective changes when we make ourselves aware of the way we look at our surroundings. Many of my pieces, when looked at from afar, represent the picture as a whole, whereas when looked at from an arm’s length, they resemble something more abstract and technological.”

The Fine Art Department commends the efforts of this year’s BFA students. They were responsible for all aspects of their exhibition, from making the frames and labels for their pieces, to advertising and promoting their show to the campus and community, to arranging for their art receptions (including food and music), to developing their final artist’s statement, to preparing their gallery talk. As a final component of this year-long project, students turned in their final thesis, an in-depth research paper about their work and the art, artists that influenced it, and their aesthetic decisions.

For additional information, contact Hyrum Benson, UMPI Assistant Professor of Fine Art, at (207) 768-9441 or hyrum.benson@maine.edu. Please follow the UMPI Art Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UMPIAD and Instagram: @umpiart.