MSU’s Fine Art thesis group to present senior exhibition, ‘Tangent’

April 9th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU’s Fine Art thesis group to present senior exhibition, ‘Tangent’



(Via thesis students)

Letting go is a process that most people find difficult. Breaking down and releasing the stress onto which we hold is a complex and frightening process. For Mississippi State University drawing major and Kosciusko native Victoria Cheek, this exchange of energy is not only an essential part of nature but part of her outlook on life. In her thesis body of artworks titled “One Indivisible Whole,” Victoria explores this process in its smallest unit and enlarges it in her mixed-media paintings, soon to be exhibited in the Department of Art Galleries in April.

With a double major in art/drawing and environmental geosciences, senior student  Cheek began her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree thesis work by collecting samples of fungi from the local Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. Using a microscope, she was able to photograph the various specimens in their natural processes of emergence, growth and decay. In nature, this transformational process is vital to the birth and growth of new life. In Cheek’s life, the cycle of ups and downs she has experienced mimics nature in this regard and allows for her own continual rebirth.

Through a technique of layering both watercolor and pastel, Cheek creates a story of extreme contrasts that is echoed from the smallest level of entropy she observed to the highest level of spiritual growth that she’s encountered. When discussing personal circumstances that have influenced her artistic expression, Cheek believes that “there is no wall of separation between the means and the end. Everything is interconnected as one indivisible whole.”

MSU’s Department of Art will present its 2015 BFA Fine Art Thesis Exhibition, “Tangent,” from April 23 – April 30. Senior Fine Art student works will be on display in three university galleries – the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall, the Colvard Student Union Art Gallery and the MSU Visual Arts Center just off of campus at 808 University Drive.

“Tangent,” a curve that comes in contact with a line but never intersects it, represents the kindred spirit of the group as well as the very individual paths each has taken. Through the exhibition, the tangential journey of the group – which consisted of the capstone, yearlong process of Fine Art research, writing, presentation and advanced studio practice – has culminated in a body of work from each senior.

A reception for the public will be held on April 23 in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall from 5 – 6 p.m. (with student introductions at 5:45 pm) and in the Union and Visual Arts Center galleries from 6 – 7:30 pm. Food and beverages will be provided.

Molly Howell

Molly Howell

Molly Howell
Inspired by her roots in the sewing and quilting traditions of the South, Molly Howell uses thread and cloth as her painting media. According to Howell, there is a “mantra” in the process of sewing that allows her thoughts to stay focused and steady. Using the “stroke” of the needle when it makes a stitch, Howell paints with fabric. Originally from Estill Springs, Tenn., Howell will be able to further her medium this fall as she begins the Master of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jacob Craig

Jacob Craig

Jacob Craig
Previously an engineering student from Gulfport, Jacob Craig battled multiple abilities and decided that his calling was in the arts. Today, Craig is a ceramicist currently intrigued with faceted, architectonic forms. Using wire tools, Craig subtracts from the hollow forms he throws in order to create dynamic, sculptural clay pieces.

Hal Boerner
A maker of nontraditional cups and handles in his ceramics emphasis, Hal Boerner has considered the idea of the vessel as a challenge to the drinker/viewer. While exploring a gamut of possibilities for hand positions, Boerner has developed a range of new and exciting vessels and handles. Designed for functionality, comfort and aesthetic puzzlement, Boerner’s pieces in his thesis are titled “Hand-le Made.” Can the viewer “handle” so many choices? Boerner’s hometown is Tupelo.

Eleanor Bailey
In an ode to classical vanitas, Eleanor Bailey began her thesis body of work in the examination and portrayal of a perfect dinner setting and has created images recording its sequential decay over time. She has found new meaning and symbolism as the death of her picturesque still life has brought forth a new, unexpected drama. Her body of work depicts her time alone as she watches the life of things in the so-called “still life.” Originally from Carnation, Wash., Bailey has been accepted to Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md., to study medical illustration.

Zachary Kloor
Since a young age, Zachary Kloor has had a fascination with mechanical parts. In our everyday lives, we rely on cars and the ability for their parts to work together to provide dependable energy and movement. From assembly line to post-apocalyptic society, Kloor’s digital artwork will take the viewer on a journey that emphasizes his view of the symbiotic relationship between cars and humans. Kloor plans to be a digital illustrator and visual development concept artist.

Merritt La Foe
Using thick, impasto oils in high relief, art/painting major Merritt La Foe addresses relevant social issues in large-format wood panels. With human rights being in the forefront of her priorities, La Foe shows the beauty of individuals while challenging socially constructed views on gender. She presents to us a representation of individual identity that tends to be excluded in societal norms. A new definition of beauty is intimated. LaFoe is originally from Jackson and is double concentrating in both Fine Art and Graphic Design.

Thomas McBroom
“Augenblick,” or “In the blink of an eye,” is the aptly-named thesis work of art/painting major and Starkville native Thomas McBroom. McBroom leads the viewer through a visual dialog, first by showing an object and by then presenting a space for engaging the paint as it is. Rabbits are the choice of subject, as they push, pull, intertwine and inhabit their painted hutch that the viewer might travel upon and through the manipulated impasto surface. McBroom won “Best in Show” at the MS Collegiate Art Competition in 2015.

Reagan Watts
Reagan Mackenzie Watts, an art/painting major who grew up in many cities across America as a proud member of a military family, directs her focus on manipulating latex house paint in her works. By using nontraditional, mark making tools and complex paint layers, she composes nonrepresentational works that honor and highlight intrinsic paint qualities, the instrumentation of marks and how the two interact.

Alison Petro
What started out as subjective portrait making turned into a spiritual process of breaking and connecting the human form for art/painting major Alison Petro. Using only black, white and grey, the figures are depicted through many layers, starting with an under-painting, leading to over-drawing. New shapes, forms and connections are seen in an expression of human energy and spirituality. Petro is from Soso.

Bonnie Brumley
Strange lands, universal mysteries and their possibilities for phantasmal, organic objects are the inspirations behind the ceramic work of Bonnie Brumley. With functionality of the tea set hiding beneath a sculptural form, Brumley has added what she calls “a flair for the ridiculous.” The pieces themselves are created with a process that continues after the firing of the ceramic piece, allowing for change and evolution in the final result.

Anna Callaway
In observation of a society that often hashes out cookie-cutter forms of women, Anna Callaway uses her painting medium to celebrate the flaws and variations that actualize the individual. With abstractly cropped forms rendered in representational oil paintings, her works reveal what some would consider imperfections, placed front and center in the hierarchy of the composition. Callaway is dual concentrating in both Fine Art/Painting and Graphic Design. She hails from Madison.

Shelby Nichols
Growing up in the Southeast U.S., Shelby Nichols has developed a deeply rooted connection with her surrounding rural wilds. In her thesis work “A Resonance of Origin,” she examines the relationship between an artist and nature by making individually crafted tools. By harvesting her own material from the local forests, Nichols has transformed her experience with nature into the creation of working instruments. It is with these new tools that she will literally further shape her relationship with the living world, as they are used to build and form resonant ceramic artworks.

The Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall is open Monday through Friday from noon until 4 p.m. The Colvard Student Union Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The CAAD Visual Arts Center Gallery is Monday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Lori Neuenfeldt, Department of Art gallery director, at 662-325-2970 or

Read the story on MSU’s site.

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