BFA Thesis Exhibitions 2020
Department of Art & Design
Mason Gross School of the Arts
In the midst of a global pandemic, undergraduate thesis students have come together virtually to revive, collaborate, create—and to present work at the culmination of their undergraduate studies at Rutgers. The online gallery rutgersbfa2020.net combines two exhibitions: Indoor Songs featuring 45 students in Visual Arts, and Déjà Rêvé featuring 26 students in Design.
The self-curated virtual exhibitions reflect the breadth of students’ practice and capture the interdisciplinary mission of the program, featuring works in design, drawing, media, painting, photography, print, and sculpture. Themes and approaches range widely, from personal concerns of memory, perception and anxiety to global issues of immigration, representation, and labor practices. In the current moment, many of these young artists and designers are reframing their work, forced to look inward and still very much aware of the worlds they inhabit.
The students pivoted quickly to an online platform from their planned gallery exhibitions. They rallied together and showed incredible resilience and creativity in a time of crisis. This online exhibition demonstrates how a creative community can come together to produce something transformative in a moment of uncertainty. Mason Gross School of the Arts is proud to bring its annual BFA Thesis Exhibitions online to audiences far beyond New Brunswick, New Jersey.
For more information about this site and the Art and Design Program at Mason Gross School of Art, please email .
Our response to this cascade of adversity will have lasting implications. Will we remember it as a time when acts of solidarity outweighed selfish ones? Amongst many concerning things going on, we continue to see people rise to the occasion. This is for the sanitation workers, the administrative personnel, the nurses, the doctors, the educators, the people putting in work to keep things afloat while we adjust to this temporary way of life. Although many of us are not on the same page, we should refrain from letting the vocal minority dictate the conversation and steering us into believing that we are not in this together. I can produce no better exemplars of this message than the individuals across the world dressed in PPE. This is an homage to them.
Unedited Women is a series of posters and video interviews that aim to raise the voices of women designers. The posters give women designers a spotlight to tell their story, with hopes to encourage others a chance to hear and learn from what they are sharing. The video interview questions that were asked explore personal experiences of being women graphic designers, and ways they have been challenged by male patriarchy in the workforce. This project is about letting the women designers be an inspiration and a role model for other young female designers who are going into the real world.
Memory Maker is a company created for immersing someone in the five senses through various, detailed scenarios to help stir up memories, old and new, as well as gift-giving ideas. Each box, which is also a present for the user, represents a different sense to help guide the user to imagine and create memories.
An exploration into texture and the body, in a time where touch is limited.
The Covert series is a commentary of the way images are made for consumption. It is derived from improvised camera setups and spontaneous actions, such as placing a digital point and shoot on a shelf in a sporting goods store, or mounting my camera on a tripod two stories above me tethered to a wifi shutter release.
While photographing locations designed with the consumer in mind, I placed myself in these pictures as a gesture of defiance, visiting each location with an infiltrative approach. There were many instances where I had to frame each image as fast as possible, avoiding security guards, store employees, or customers, in fear of being misinterpreted as a trespasser or a pervert. Despite working in situations where I could be caught, the criteria for these images was to still have crisp focus, balanced composition, and enough lighting to allow as many details to be seen, then quickly leaving the area.
My personal experience as a retail salesman in one of the busiest shopping malls in New Jersey allowed me to gain insight about the unwritten laws of etiquette in public environments. Consumerist culture has been inundated with access to smartphone cameras, therefore everyone considers themselves as photographers. During one outing when I was taking pictures at a different mall, I overheard a few employees working in a Sprint mobile kiosk nervously questioning what I was doing. I could make out a few sentences –– “Why does he have a camera?! Why is he taking photos with a tripod?” –– ironically, from the store that sold smartphones with the highest end cameras on the market.
Two or More is a series that was inspired by my personal experiences. Being biracial I struggled a lot with my identity. I felt like at times I was forced to pick a side/ethnicity I resemble the most rather than embrace all aspects of myself. I have been asked to prove myself so that others can believe that I am who I say I am. This series was a way to get control back and bring these issues to light. It combines studio portraits with audio taken from interviews conducted by my peers who are also mixed. This process was extremely collaborative and my peers had total control of how they wanted to be represented including their outfit, hair, and poses. Each person chose two colors that they felt best represented them.
Our mission to expand human potential is our drive for using cheap labor sourced from China. Through working off the backs of our motivated underpaid workers, we aim to bring inspiration and innovation to athletes around the globe. Just Don’t is a brand designed to raise awareness of the multiple social oppressions under the Chinese Government through educating and inspiring a global community to create real change.
Societal sustainability is a theory that should be legitimized around the globe. It refers to the idea that humans should live in a way that avoids depleting Earth of natural resources, thus maintaining a balance between ecosystems and human civilizations. Our planet’s health is deteriorating, and though the blame is often dumped on individuals instead of corporate businesses, it is everyone’s responsibility to clean up their act. The purpose of this project is to educate those who do not understand why we are facing this climate crisis and to explain how harmful our human activities have become.
The Insider was a project derived from the current pandemic that we’re are all enduring. Since this crisis abruptly stopped my original thesis, I needed to cultivate an entirely new project, and quickly. As days passed and the life of quarantine seemed to become more “normalized” so did my lack of hygiene and presentation. After speaking with some of my other “femme” friends about this newfound grime, it seemed to be a common thread amongst us all, to be less inclined to shower and dress for the day. This new way of living has opened my eyes to the untamed femme. Presenting questions like, do we really need to follow proper hygiene and grooming in order to be effeminate? And, are we engendering a new type of woman during these unprecedented times?
In order to address these questions, I created a magazine series highlighting this new lawless femme land, along with headlines and article titles pertaining to the times. I hope you enjoy scrolling through the covers to unveil a new femme standard and the fun stories that mysteriously lie within its pages.
Side Note: For most optimal viewing use a desktop or larger device.
Our host, Lossless, is from the way of the sacred shell. The sacred shell is a way of life inspired by the story of Lord Slugg, who died on the internet for its own ego. Like Lord Slugg, Lossless self-isolated and created a life for its “self” on the internet. At a time where humans have been forced to try to continue life on the internet as much as they can to combat a global pandemic, Lossless believes this may a great opportunity to convince humans to use the internet to re-create or at least re-consider what life can be.
They Reminisce Over You is a dedication to a 90s hip-hop song and a homage for my loved ones who have stepped foot in my apartment that’s been alive since the 80s. It is my continuous, healing research of connecting all these histories as an Afro-Caribbean person and as a Bronx native. This is the beginning and the hopes of bringing something anew, creating a transcendence of both the mundane and the enchanted. For what is gone, what is still here, and what is to come.
“as sweeter a sting” is a series of small-scale assemblage works that uses found objects, silicone, window screens, and dried insects. Using dead honeybees salvaged from an abandoned beehive, I use the bee throughout the series as a symbol of fear and loss. Bees are associated with work, so the dead bee represents a loss of productivity. If the workers are dead, who will produce the honey? And what happens to the beekeeper, the collector of the riches?
The body is the distance between our consciousness and the outside world. It is an ever changing form that directs itself through muscles, tendons, skin, fat and systems most of us will never get the opportunity to see. Not everything that our body-consciousness interacts with has a conscious, but everything has some form of a body or body-specific relationship. As artists and creators, we navigate our bodies to create new bodies. Bodies of work, visual representations of bodies, digital bodies and bodies that decay and vanish in the mechanical movement of time. Our relationship with our bodies and the bodies we create and the bodies our bodies create is tumultuous, unstable and ever changing. To claim a universal experience or expectation within one’s body is to ignore the vastness of the socio-psychological relationship between our body-consciousness and the outside world. As far as we are aware, our consciousness starts and ends with the body we hold in space.
Window into the Red Room” is a collection of performances and documented installed space exploring the ins and outs of the mind and body relationship. The work questions the mind and female body’s intimate spatial communication, defining performances in “soundless” language and active, repetitive motion known as “participles.” Performers were asked a series of questions — pertaining to understanding the space of their minds and reactivity of their bodies confronted with violence, repression, love, power, and sexuality — and responded with only their figures’ shadows, embracing the language of action and the abstraction of the body when expressing the mind. Interacting with the documented red room, this body of work channels themes of voyeurism, intimacy, pain, and grace, visually reflecting the complexity of the mind and expression of the female figure post-trauma. Deriving from the layering of painting and the experience of audio, “Window into the Red Room” transforms communication and the essence of language as the bodies move across the frame intended to be read as a single, moving “image.” In constant flux, the figures dance across the static room, sharing and discovering each other’s mindful space.
Throughout all of these drawings, music played an integral component in their creation. Some inspired by specific bands or artists, others from carefully tailored playlists, the drawings found their form, composition, and pallet through the rhythm, tempo and sounds of the music. Here are the Faces of the Tunes.
My work focuses on memories from my childhood told through paintings of close up imagery inside my house. I walk throughout my home in search of moments that hold some notable story behind it. I then create several sketches before painting it.
The Wanderers are collaged together through various overlapping pieces of brown industrial paper. Each piece belonging to a form is hand painted with mixed acrylics and drawn on top of with black ink. The figures are meant to reference sentinels or guards that watchfully protect sacred relics, typically those of ancestral significance . Both figures stand over 6ft tall.