Six Western Connecticut State University recipients of the Master of Fine Arts degree this May will present their works in the M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition running from Wednesday, June 23, through Saturday, July 10, at the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York.
Admission will be free for public viewing in person at the gallery, located in Suite 200, 547 W. 27th St. in Manhattan. The gallery will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday during the exhibition.
The exhibition, supported by the Jason and Ellen Hancock Student Endowment Fund, showcases the diverse works in painting, illustration and mixed media created by this year’s M.F.A. graduates. The WCSU 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. The following M.F.A. graduates 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 graduate 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 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 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 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 of joyful conversion in faith through the view of a Raggedy Ann doll. 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 the thoughts, emotions and imagery inspired by 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 a 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 creative work. 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.
Online viewing of the portfolios of the six artists participating in the M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition is available here.