UofM studio art students to ‘break molds and barriers’ at 2023 BFA senior thesis show

Student artists whose works will be presented at the University of Memphis' Spring 2023 BFA...
Student artists whose works will be presented at the University of Memphis' Spring 2023 BFA thesis show, "make me." (from top to bottom, left to right): Ella Kennin, Kayla Cave, Sarah Stobbe, Anna Remington, Keeosha Armstrong, Jace Jimenez Pittman, and Alison Heverly.(UofM Department of Art)
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 4:07 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Studio art students at the University of Memphis Department of Art will soon unveil their 2023 BFA thesis show, curated by seniors ready to make their end-of-year statement before embarking on their next creative chapter.

Seven artists will present works they’ve spent months creating that explore themes of identity, communication, memory, personal experiences, growth, and process in the exhibition entitled, “make me.”

Unlike most BFA shows, this exhibition will fill both the university’s Fogelman Galleries with work from the thesis group.

The show will feature works in a variety of mediums that range from two-dimensional paintings, sculptures, installations, and performance work.

“We are all rebellious souls who make unique art,” said Jace Jimenez Pittman, a studio art student whose senior thesis performance piece will incorporate wood sculpture, fashion, body painting, and sounds.

“‘make me.’ is about what we have in common, and that is our attitude toward life and art,” he said.

This coming-of-age show is aimed to challenge the way viewers understand themselves while also showing off the artists’ hard work before they walk across the stage.

Alsion Heverly is another studio art senior and 3D shop technician. She said she’s spent between six and seven months working on her largest showpiece.

“We liked ‘make me.’ because it can be read in a variety of tones,” Heverly said. “It can be taken as backtalk, or a challenge, or a dare. But it’s also a metaphor for artmaking as self-becoming, because each of us accidentally made work about our childhoods, family and community, and the experiences that ‘made’ us who we are today, for better or worse. There’s an accidental poetry to things ending where they begin.”

When asked what viewers can expect during their 2023 thesis show, Heverly listed free snacks, a dog that isn’t a dog, a Redbull tower, a finger blanket, wigs, clay poems, a zen garden, and a mother’s love.

The exhibition’s opening reception will be held at the University of Memphis Fogelman Galleries on Friday, April 14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Artists will open up about their pieces and answer questions beginning at 6 p.m.

The exhibition will remain open until April 28, but the artists say viewers won’t want to miss out on the grand opening.

“Exhibition receptions are the movie premieres of the art world,” said Heverly. “It is our work’s first public debut (and for some of us our very first exhibition), so we have to celebrate! Aside from free Martinelli’s, our reception will also host gallery talks given by each student in our thesis group. It’s a great time for viewers to hear us talk about our work, as well as catch us later for questions.”

For those hesitant to attend the show’s debut, Pittman says, expect the unexpected.

“It’ll give you a chance to see something new that is breaking molds and barriers,” he said.

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