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Part of "Net Nest Nestle," by Olivia Eitzman, one of the thesis projects on display at the BFA Thesis Exhibition Friday, April 19.

Before Friday's exhibition for the BFA Thesis Exhibition opened to the public, senior studio art major Olivia Eitzman plastered the Center for Visual Art’s atrium with pinks, reds and oranges. Her vibrant colors cover the walls and floors in the heavily trafficked area. She wore the same colors while hanging her project as she wore to the exhibition itself: bright orange. 

Art students pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts showcased their semester-long thesis projects on Friday. Depending on the artist’s area of expertise and major, the student projects differ greatly in style.

The director of the School of Art, Marie Bukowski, referred to the BFA Thesis Exhibition as the schools’ “largest-attended event of the year.”

The exhibition features jewelry, ceramics, photos, among other exhibits. Out of the door to the stairs on the first floor, viewers are instantly greeted by a scale and a chair. The scale announces the weight and the chair is where guests are directed to place down their things.

Throughout one area of the exhibition, there are pictures of Mia Johnson, the artist who designed it. There are pieces of cake towards the center that read “have you earned it?” and at the end, there are numerous pieces of cake in a pile with the sentence “you can have one piece.”

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Part of "At the Seams" by Mia Johnson, one of the thesis projects on display at the BFA Thesis Exhibition Friday, April 19.

In the description of her work titled At the Seams, Johnson discusses what she calls her “fatness.” She goes on to say that her fatness is one of the biggest parts of her identity, and battles with it every day.

“Despite this lifetime of fatness, I am still learning to thrive in a body that is irregular from the norm, unwelcome in every space, and always under the watch of those around me,” she wrote.  

Identity seemed to be a common theme in this year’s exhibition. Chelsea Craig’s collection was titled "Reclamation" and focused on what it meant to be an oppressed African-American woman. Her pieces featured headwraps and jewelry. 

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A piece from Chelsea Craig's collection "Reclamation," one of the thesis projects on display at the BFA Thesis Exhibition Friday, April 19.

“As an African-American woman, it is very important for my thesis to be about the historic oppression of the African-American community and how the community has taken some of the oppressions and reclaimed them into our culture,” Craig said.

Craig’s work featured a lot of historical references which she said have influenced not only her thesis project, but a lot of her work at Kent State.

"Steps," Jordan Ledger’s thesis project, explored what it is like to deal with depression and mental health issues. The piece featured a plaster cast of Ledger and multiple screens that showed him wandering in a barren landscape.

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"Steps" by Jordan Ledger, one of the thesis projects on display at the BFA Thesis Exhibition Friday, April 19.

“This piece was a journey for me to reflect on my own mental health and has helped me through the healing process of dealing with mental health issues,” Ledger said in his artist statement.

Mary Kay Palazzo’s thesis project featured jewelry made from a mix of materials. The collection is called "(sense)ational." Some of her pieces even featured some sort of aroma, but all of her pieces play off of at least one sense. 

Palazzo indicated that her work was inspired by “research on child development through play and sensory learning.”

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One of the pieces of jewelry art from the collection of Mary Kay Palazzo, one of the thesis projects on display at the BFA Thesis Exhibition Friday, April 19.

"Fuzzy Navel," Palazzo’s piece made from blankets, smelled just like oranges. Guests gathered around her piece to get a sniff of the aroma that it put off into the air. Palazzo said she is strategic about her work because she wants all of her viewers to get involved with her pieces.

Within the gallery in the CVA, one student artist made some sort of teeter totter that got a lot of guests and viewers involved. Attendees gathered around the interactive art and waited their turn to push their feet off the ground and launch themselves upward.

From the opening of the exhibition until its close, the entire Center for Visual Arts bustled with excitement and conversations about the art that lay inside it. Guests commented on how impressive the work was and how exciting this must be for those receiving a BFA in just one month.

From the attendees to the students to the professors, everyone agreed the event was a success. The students were asked throughout the night about their pieces and got the taste of what it will be like after graduation. These students will pursue careers in different areas but all of them have one common interest: art.

In just a few short months, more art students will begin to work on their Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis projects and will feel the stress these fifteen students felt for an entire semester.

The art featured in the BFA Thesis Exhibition will remain on show until April 26 in the CVA. Be sure to check out all areas of the building because some of the art is more hidden than others.

Brittany Wilson covers arts and architecture. Contact her at bwilso53@kent.edu.

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