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Mazmanian Gallery hosts five senior studio art majors’ capstones

An array of art pieces.
Adrien Gobin / THE GATEPOST

By Raena Doty

Arts & Features Editor

On April 24, the second of two senior capstone exhibitions in the Mazmanian Gallery began with a reception to celebrate the five senior studio art majors who put their art on display.

Erin Lyons, concentration in painting, made four oil paintings and one charcoal drawing, all on canvas, for her capstone piece.

She said the paintings all explore the themes of nature and how human beings connect to that natural world.

“It’s what’s most special to me and felt like the most authentic way for me to represent who I am and my creative expression,” she said. “It’s what everything is to me.

“The imagery that came up in each piece is very much uncontrolled and intuitive - very intuitive,” Lyons added. “It’s coming from a deep place that I’m not really sure where it comes from.”

She said the charcoal drawing stands out the most to her.

“I had stayed up through the night to finish it and watched the sunrise as I finished it and that was a very meaningful experience,” she said.

Lyons added she conceptualized the idea in a very short amount of time, “so the whole process was super automatic. I feel like, in that way, it came to be the most authentic and raw and honest.”

She said the painting with flowers on a background of stars stood out to her because the process for creating it was very different from any of the other pieces.

Lyons said she’s very grateful for all the support she’s received from FSU and faculty in the Art and Music Department.

“I think studying at Framingham State and pursuing art here has definitely pushed me in the right direction,” she said.

Aiden O’Rourke, concentration in sculpture, created mixed media and collage pieces made from materials found in an old aircraft hangar.

“I went in and found these really old posters that were falling apart and some of them were a little bit risque - weird, old, vintage,” he said.

O’Rourke said he doesn’t necessarily have a favorite piece in the gallery because he sees all of them as cohesive, particularly the center three pieces, which make up a triptych - a single art piece made in three parts.

He said the middle part of the triptych was the most difficult to execute because of how badly the original poster from the aircraft hangar was damaged.

O’Rourke said most of the images come directly from the poster, which makes them look “decaying - weird.”

His additions were significantly inspired by pop culture and religious imagery, he said.

He said he chose to use them in his project because he was interested in the idea of working with the past in his art.

“Manipulating them - in a way, you’re manipulating history,” O’Rourke said. “The fact that they’re falling apart is almost like I’m restoring them, but in my own image.”

Thalia Nesvacil, concentration in graphic design, contributed three oil paintings.

“They’re basically about identity, the dreamlike state that one may have, and just going through the obstacles of anxiety - conquering that through the use of colors, figurative elements, and dark nature things,” she said.

She said she’s always been drawn toward “darker imagery” like witchcraft, skulls, and “life and death.”

Nesvacil added she draws inspiration from Tim Burton films and tarot cards - “things that maybe discomfort others.”

She said she’s worked with these themes in the past, especially when sculpting.

Nesvacil said she chose to contribute oil paintings to the gallery instead of a digital graphic design-oriented project because she felt she could better “capture texture and detail” with a painting.

She said her favorite painting of the three is the center piece, which depicts a surreal sky of distorted faces behind birds on a tree. She added the piece displayed on the right, which depicts a bird flying over a deer skull with mushrooms growing on it, was the most difficult because she didn’t necessarily have a great grasp of the subject before she started.

“FSU brought a lot of good opportunities. They definitely helped a lot to further my experience and my abilities,” Nesvacil said. “This is a really good opportunity to get your work in the gallery.”

Hayley Gaskin, concentration in graphic design, said she did a “mock brand collaboration.”

Her piece advertised the company Niche, which she said is “a company that aligns with my value. It’s women founded and operated, and as a queer woman, I want to support businesses that are like that.”

She added snowboarding is a very male-dominated sport, and said, “The whole idea behind the design itself and this whole branding is to lower the barrier to entry and make people have a sense of belonging.

“When people feel like they belong, they’re going to be more open to joining the sport,” she added.

She said she chose to do this type of project because she has a minor in marketing and wanted to bring that into her capstone.

Gaskin added her process of learning to snowboard has been very similar to her process of learning graphic design.

“You fail so much, and just like snowboarding, you’re going to fall on your face and embarrass yourself. But that’s really what you need to do - is fail in order to succeed,” she said.

She said, “My experience here as an art major has been super, super transformational. I definitely learned a lot about myself.

“I wouldn’t have gone anywhere without my professors - they support you to the end,” she added. “There definitely was a time when I didn’t know Framingham was right for me, but I wouldn’t trade these professors in the art program for literally anything.”

Jake Petersen, concentration in graphic design, created a digital project for his senior capstone piece.

He said his project is “a web design based on the idea of the Great Filter.” He added the Great Filter is several theories for why alien life has not made it to Earth.

“I’ve always really been into science and technology, and reality is way stranger than fiction to me, and I just want to show other people that point of view as well,” he said.

Petersen said he wanted to make the website “the most ’90s website possible” because he likes the graphics of the time.

“It was very limited, so people had to get creative,” he said.

He said he emulated Windows 95 and installed a program called Microsoft FrontPage 98 in order to build his website authentically.

“That was definitely a challenge. I didn’t know if I could even export the files at a certain point, so it was kind of scary, but I figured it out,” he said.

He added he used Blender and Photoshop - an old version of Photoshop so the dithering would look authentic - to make each art piece, and his favorite is the depiction of abiogenesis, which is the theory that life developed from abiotic material.

“I’m just so proud of everyone who’s in this show and all the other shows, honestly. We all worked very hard and you can tell,” he said.


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