Online show features 2021 M.F.A. candidates’ works in painting, illustration & mixed media
Six Western Connecticut State University graduate student candidates for the Master of Fine Arts degree in 2021 are presenting their works in the M.F.A. Thesis Virtual Exhibition featured on the web page of the Gallery at the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center in Danbury.
Sponsored by the university’s Department of Art, the virtual exhibition that opened on April 5 offers the public an opportunity to experience the diverse works in painting, illustration and mixed media created by this year’s M.F.A. candidates. Closure of the VPAC Gallery to the public during the pandemic has made in-person viewing of the exhibition impossible. By accessing the web page link, here the online guest is invited to take a virtual tour of the Gallery to view the exhibition installation as it appears on site as well as close-up images of individual works in the show. On the same web page, the visitor is invited to access links to each participant’s artist statement, biographical notes and exhibition portfolio.
The Department of Art organizes the M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition each spring as a capstone experience demonstrating the personal artistic direction and mastery of candidates for the M.F.A. in Visual Arts, expressed in the works they present for viewing. The M.F.A. is the terminal degree for practicing professional artists. The following M.F.A. students are showing their works in this year’s exhibition:
- Ryan Ames, of Newtown. Ames’ artistic passion is editorial illustration, mixing conceptual design and symbolic language to encapsulate a story and educate the viewer in both familiar and new subjects. Recent works such as his “Hindsight” series, depicting the heartbreak of children lost to gun violence around the world, break from the digital mold of his previous works, using an unconventional painting process with stenciling and acrylics. Ames received a B.A. in Media Studies and Studio Art from WCSU in 2014, and worked for a Silicon Valley firm for several years as a project manager for development of educational applications for children before returning to Connecticut to pursue M.F.A. studies.
- Alison Booth, of Sherman. The foundation of Booth’s M.F.A. thesis work at WCSU has been the search for her unique narrative and storytelling vision, realized in many of her works through self-portraits. She finds inspiration to create her narrative in nature and in her personal relationships to people, places and objects often overlooked, ignored or forgotten. Nostalgia, play and careful observation assume important roles in her artistic work. A student of the visual arts since her childhood in New York City, she took an early interest in drawing and majored in art at Fiorello H. Laguardia High School in Manhattan. She attended Alfred University and completed her B.F.A. at WCSU in 2016.
- David Flook, of Bridgewater. Flook’s body of work as an M.F.A. in Painting candidate has been dramatically influenced and reshaped by the personal and social impact of the pandemic over the past year. His paintings depict memories and moments that reflect the people and places holding special importance in motivating him through challenging times. A native of the United Kingdom, Flook attributes the origins of his education in color theory and elements of art and design to his apprenticeship creating original works for clients at a cutting-edge U.K. tattoo studio. Following his move to the United States, he embarked on art studies to prepare for a career in the visual arts, earning a bachelor’s degree at WCSU with dual concentrations in painting and illustration.
- Rachel Rossier, of Bethel. A painter and art educator, Rossier primarily works with acryla gouache and acrylics to create her works on illustration board and canvas. Her portraits address the intrinsic value, beauty and dignity of the human person at rest, while her most recent paintings document her journey as a joyful convert to the Catholic faith. The geometric shapes, intense colors and floral images that fill these narrative and psychological landscapes, influenced by her childhood experiences in both the United States and Mexico, evoke senses of whimsy and urgency. She earned her bachelor’s degree in art at WCSU with dual concentrations in illustration and painting.
- Kathleen Spezzano, of Woodbury. Spezzano seeks to express through art the thoughts, emotions and imagery inspired by her personal spirituality and her keen interest in Wiccan/Pagan beliefs that magic lives in nature, the elements and forces of energy in the world. Her works use a wide variety of materials including acrylics, inks and iridescent mediums to depict imagery drawn from holidays, deities, mythical creatures and other themes found in Wiccan/Pagan tradition. Her M.F.A. thesis work focuses on the creation of her personal oracle card deck, “The Oracle of Shadows.” A native of Greenwich, Spezzano studied illustration and creative writing at Montserrat College of Art and completed a B.S. in Equine Studies at Post University.
- Jennifer Sullivan, of Avon. Recipient of a B.A. in Art History from the University of Saint Joseph, Sullivan draws upon her knowledge of art history to inspire and challenge her artistic creation. Her diverse professional studio practice includes painting, collage, mixed media and printmaking. For her M.F.A. thesis, she used her continuing observations of change over time in floral arrangements on her dinner table to create a body of work depicting larger-than-life flowers within interior spaces. Unlike traditional still-life images, she notes that she painted her works through the lens of her feminism, revealing the flowers’ anthropomorphic qualities and offering a glimpse into the artist’s life.