Arcadia University’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, in conjunction with Arcadia Exhibitions, is pleased to present the Senior Thesis Exhibition, online beginning May 10, and in person by appointment from May 18 through July 30, 2021.
An end of year exhibition highlighting the work of Arcadia’s graduating art seniors is a tradition that dates back to the Department’s move to the Glenside campus from Jenkintown in 1935. Over time, the opening of the exhibition has evolved into a celebration for the entire campus community, marking the end of Arcadia’s Thesis Week, which includes presentations and displays from every major.
In 2020, due to the Covid pandemic, an in-person exhibition was not possible, and so an online version was inaugurated.
For 2021, Arcadia Exhibitions proposed a modified, in-person show to be presented in tandem with the online exhibition. "Instead of the traditional one-day installation where artists, their advisors, friends, and family converge on the building en masse, we had the seniors sign up for three-hour time windows over a three-week period so that social distancing protocols could be more easily enforced," explained Matthew Borgen, exhibitions coordinator. "In order to maximize safety, this year's show was mounted in the Spruance Gallery alone, rather than utilizing the entire art center. This meant that seniors had to go through an exercise of paring down and selecting the work that would most efficiently represented their year of research in person. However, each wall label comes equipped with a QR code so viewers can link directly to each student's page on the Senior Thesis site, where a more expansive presentation can be experienced."
Installation view, rear of gallery,"Senior Thesis Exhibition" 2021, Spruance Gallery, photo: Sam Fritch
Borgen continued, "we think of this as a true hybrid exhibition that utilizes what knowledge and insight we gained from working and presenting art remotely over the past year. Rather than the gallery containing all the work included in the show, it serves as a physical nexus point that offers the viewer avenues to discover the creative output and research of the entire graduating class."
Richard Torchia, director of Arcadia Exhibitions, when asked to consider the outcomes of undertaking an in-person exhibition commented, "After more than a year of negotiating the challenges of remote learning, the chance for our graduating seniors to reap all the benefits of installing their finished works in an actual gallery space has been remarkably rewarding for both students and faculty. Not only has it proved to be a powerful learning opportunity in regard to the pragmatics of presentation and display, but has helped provide a hands-on form of engagement that stands as a testament to the mission of the department and its investment in our students, their work and its place in a re-opening world."
"The logistics involved in mounting this exhibition have been unprecedented," Borgen added. "Everyone involved with thesis worked a lot harder than usual. However, I think all of us agree that it was worth the extra effort in to 'bring a little normal back' to our students, as we often said throughout this process. They have worked extremely hard this year under challenging conditions, and they very much deserved whatever culminating experience we could offer."
Traditionally, the first night of the exhibition is a moment when many alumni of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts choose to make their return to campus. They come to support friends, to converse with former mentors, or just to celebrate their connection to the larger community.
Beginning in 2016, alumni attending the reception were given the opportunity to vote on their favorite individual thesis presentation to receive the Alumni Choice Award.
This year Alumni will be invited to view the Senior Thesis website and vote for their top three choices with prizes to be announced during a private virtual reception held for the seniors and their families on May 14, 2021.
The students included in this year's exhibition include: Jamilah Amatur-Razzaq, Olivia Armacost, Ossama Awan, Kat Bleiweiss, Mya Brown, Reanna Bull, Taylor Carrico, Madison Cline, Anna Coyle, Davida Derry, Joseph Gaeta, Bee Galindo, Hanna Grove, Kayla Kelly, Jordyn Labrosciano, Anthony Lebeau, Trevor Lehman, Natasha Litwinow, Dominique Masia, May'an Meder, Jessica Palmer, Rachael Piotte, Alexandria Puls, Christopher Reistle, Madison Schwester, Kellie Simons, Eleanor Simpson, Courtney Skolka, Anil Sooknanan, Nicole Ulla, Gunnar Von Haden, Sophie Wasyliw, Colleen Weiman, and Jordyn Willis.
Senior Trevor Lehman viewing his animation of an enlarged heart through the Artivive app, photo: Matthew Borgen
Jamilah Amatur-Razzaq installing her oil paintings of exotic plants, photo: Matthew Borgen
Bee Galindo installing her work Escape in the Spruance Gallery for Senior Thesis 2021, photo: Matthew Borgen