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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Online Thesis Exhibitions

Spring 2021 BFA Thesis Exhibitions

We are highlighting a few photos of each student but you can view their full album on our Flickr page!
Be sure to click on the links as well!

Maggie Bolinger: To Live Is To Travel 

View more of her posters on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Maggie here!

Artist Statement

This time last spring, I was walking along different pathways all throughout Europe. When traveling, I felt so full; seeing new places, trying new food, new architecture, new people, the list could go on and on. It was the most inspired I had ever felt, but with a sudden and unexpected change of events, I was ultimately sent home. With this arrival came sadness and the burden of feeling lost. Every day I told myself I will travel again, I will be back! The small hiccup in my plans was not meant to discontinue my love for other cultures, but to only enhance the desires for a new perspective on life. That being said, the posters I have curated are ultimately meant to represent my love for exploration and admiration for the world.

Each poster contains a photograph I took while visiting. I wanted to use images I took personally so that I felt a stronger connection to the artwork presented at hand. The taglines contain a fun, uplifting message to promote travel and the specific destination shown. The taglines are arranged either to the left or to the right to create a relationship with the image and its negative space. To enhance this, I used cyanotypes I created last semester as inspiration for the appearance of the prints. Over the years, I found that while my passion is for creating digital work, I also enjoy hands-on fine art processes – hence the use of cyanotypes.

The posters are intended to promote travel and inspire taking the risk of seeing new cultures. This year has looked very different than anyone expected, but I hope the posters will bring a smile to the viewer’s face and create future endeavors. Besides inspiring exploration, the prints can be used for décor, social media promotion, general ads, or even a souvenir. I hope these prints bring as much joy to everyone as they do for me, and essentially promote a trip that brings joy to others.


Kaitlyn Brewer: Mississippi Coastal

View more of her illustrations on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Kaitlyn here!

Artist Statement

My coloring pages are inspired by my surroundings and the place I call home, the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Living on the coast gives one the freedom to enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. As a child I grew up kayaking, playing on the beach, fishing atHorn Island, and drawing the beautiful Gulf Coast. The coloring pages in this book depict the different towns across the MississippiGulf Coast as well as the various plants, animals, and fish that call it home. Through my coloring book, I hope to share my love for the culture, heritage, and beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast with others.

Each page of my coloring book is hand illustrated. This coloring book is twenty pages long with the backsides of the illustrations filled with interesting facts. The coloring book is intended to be enjoyed by everyone regardless of age or coloring experience. I hope to educate long-time residents and visitors alike about the environment and history of the coast.

In times of stress and economic hardship such as those we are living in today, I feel that a coloring book is a great way to lift one’s spirits. For me, coloring is a stress release and a way to escape from computers, tablets, and smartphones. It allows one to unplug from reality and just get lost in the pages of a book. Filling in the pages of a coloring book represents a way to safely spend time with family and a way to bring out the creativity in others.


Jake Brown

View more of his paintings on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Jake here!

Artist Statement

My paintings are an open question of how the viewer and me, the painter, interact to understand the common emotional conditions of loss, anxiety, and loneliness. The subject matters, mostly figurative, are presented in conflicted spaces figuratively or literally by aggressive painting or compact and open spaces. This is also accompanied by the distance
between figure and space painted with open planes or jarring shapes that seem to meld together, both the figure and the paint become a subject. The colors accompanied are often to promote all of these ideals either through garish colors or ominous and subtle tones.

The way these spaces interact with the figure though arise questions about the space. It makes you conscious of the idea that it is a painting and what that means. Such as, do I want to understand the painter’s painting, or do I want to understand the narrative underlying the space. The gritty painting shows distress, but the relationship between the figure and space shows isolation and distance. Time then becomes a part of the question when looking at the paint drying in motion. Seeing the visible moving strokes captures a moment just as though pottery was once movement on a wheel a literal expression of paint moving. This is done to allow the viewer to see my readiness and uneasiness to get the strokes of paint onto the canvas.


Taylor Cash: Ending the Drought 

View more of her work on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Taylor here!

Artist Statement

A primary source of community and inspiration in my life comes from adventure, though not the type of adventure one might typically think. This source of adventure can lead one to journey across desolate mountains, through treacherous caverns, and across the paths of unique companions, all from the comfort of home. In a game like Dungeons and Dragons, anyone can be anything anywhere, and for my friends and I, we were the party of Drought’s End.

Inspired by the adventures and tabletop roleplay I had with my closest companions, this body of work is meant to give the reader a window into the world of fantasy and fun we created and voyaged across through a full-length comic book. Alongside collateral pieces such as posters, postcards, buttons, t-shirts, and homemade dice, a reader can meet the characters and see the monsters faced by the adventuring party we became during those campaign nights. With a call to action to “go create your own adventure”, this story seeks to give viewers the tools and motivation to try out roleplaying stories of their own. With life getting in the way of spending time with one another, this game has been one of the driving forces that have kept us together, despite physical distance.

As a love letter to both my friends and our story,  I used Photoshop to illustrate over 40 digitally rendered comic pages, bringing my skill for character design into the narrative stage. I hope that by enjoying my work, the audience will catch the bug of storytelling and help pass it on, just like my friends helped to pass it to me years ago. After all, the world needs more adventure.


Zach Fields: Embodied

View more of his woodcuts on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Zach here!

Artist Statement

My practice explores the relationship between space and form and in this collection of work I explore the body as a vessel for subjective experience, and how that physical form engenders, limits, and shapes the version of the world we perceive.

This work is a reflection on the paradoxical nature of consciousness – we are each portals to one of innumerable, unique inner realities all existing within one shared physical one. We are beings housed in bodies; bodies which evolved in space, subject to the physical laws that govern it, yet as a species, we have grown dangerously out of step with the mother matrix that bears us. By using elements of moth and butterfly life sciences I invite comparisons between the strategies bodies develop to exist within the physical realm.

However disparate forms may appear – life responds based on subjective experience, and the result are bodies – yet on the individual level, each is a deep well; rich in its own personal histories of memory, experience, and associations – existing within time tied to a shared physical memory epitomized by form.


 Nakiyah Jordan: Of a Mustard Seed: The Portraits of ‘Church-Going’ Black Folks in the Rural South

View more of her installation on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Nakiyah here!

Artist Statement

I am a Black, queer, faith-driven artist from the rural parts of Southern Mississippi. Who I am greatly informs the work I make. I come from church fans and gas heaters, from winding backroads and yards full of “junk.” I come from flattened “get well soon” balloons as decor and piles of papers and things that will surely come in handy someday or another. This series of paintings is taken directly from snapshots of my family and church family over the years. Some are images from thirty years ago, and others are from just a few months ago. The work is about grief, love, lack, laughter, conflict, tension, but mostly about faith— joyful faith, faith through doubt, faith in something.

The project entitled, “Of a Mustard Seed,” explores the conditions of homes of my rural, Southern, Black, and Christian family both literally and metaphorically. I began with seeking to find decor and other visual expressions of personhood such as photo albums and church fans in my family’s home and place of worship. I focused my attention on the nuances and biases behind how families like mine approach and digest gender because there was a loud interpretation present that insisted that gender performance relates to the validity of a person’s spirituality. It was my belief that there was a uniqueness to how Southern, church-going, Black folks perform and perceive gender on a daily basis due to this idea that being deviant of traditional gender expressions was to also be deviant of God. This belief grew into a larger question for me about the intersections of identity for my family in particular. The way I have been subconsciously taught to process gender, as well as queerness, is the same set of tools I have been taught to tackle other profound experiences like poverty and sickness. Interrogating Black church culture through the daily lives of my family has allowed me to discover how the idea of faith grants the opportunity to grapple with layering identities.

My process is simple. I look through family albums for photos I remember or at least remember hearing about. I consider how my family’s unique and often confusing identity as Black Americans living in the country is challenged or supported by the photo. When a picture begins to say something worth writing home about, I sketch. These are all oil paintings made with layers of paint while leaving the underpainting or wood panel exposed in select areas. This practice is significant to my hand’s voice in these pieces. It alludes to the lyricism of Black voice— of hymns, of call and response. I feel that painting no more than what is needed to understand the space and leaving areas “unfinished” assist in the point I make about the way we live life. The addition of using wood panels with heavy grain as the series evolved, has allowed me to explore skin tone as it relates to colorism as well as reference the old and worn paneling in our houses. It’s more than honest—even in its bends and skewed compositions— my paintings are more honest than the photos they are taken from, and they are certainly more honest than my family or I would like at times.

This is an ongoing collection. I’ve learned that there are instances when paintings will finish themselves the more I stare at them, and every now and then a finished piece can unravel itself over time just as our own ideas do. I don’t always agree with the subjects I paint. But that’s the thing about faith within doubt— I am allowed to question and critique. So pick apart my voice from the voices of the folks I love. My grandmother has taught me about faith in the simplest of moments: “Grab an extra plate for so and so, and if you get hungry later,” or “Always ask for a receipt and a bag to put that snack in at the gas station, so no one questions you when you walk out.”As I do, I hope you reflect on whatever faith means for Black folks in America, in the South, in Mississippi, and in Grandmama’s house.


 Trinh Nguyen: Bữa Cơm Gia Đình / Family Meal

View more of her paintings on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Trinh here!

Artist Statement

Being away in college, I started to learn to make my own food and eat most of my meals at my desk or in my workspace. This new independence and loneliness made me tremendously appreciate the meals that I had with my family. Even if we were not very close as individuals, we were always together at every meal, and that is very special to me.

Inspired by my own family and the time we spent together, this body of works expresses my love for Vietnamese culture and cuisine. Food is what brings people together and creates a sense of familiarity and closeness. A family meal is not only a simple meal where everyone comes together to enjoy the meals but also to gather, talk, share stories, and spend time with one another. As I share Vietnamese cuisine with my audience, I also invite them to become part of my family culture of having meals together.

To express my love for Vietnamese cuisine, I have created a series of paintings in the shape of dish meals that are typically served. Painted in the trompe-l’oeil technique, the illusionistic frame of the dish fools the viewer’s perception. This technique also serves to draw the viewer’s attention to the uniqueness of each dish. The paintings are accompanied by utensils, such as chopsticks and soup spoons, as one would have prepared the table before each and every meal. By placing them together in a circle, it highlights the idea of togetherness. To further display this idea, I have included a painting of my family having meals together. This will welcome the viewer to become part of my family as well as remind them of their own family gatherings and the joy of being surrounded by their loved ones.


 Charlesa Peters: Home: Reflections of a Place

View more of her photographs on our Flickr.

Read our Q&A with Charlesa here!

Artist Statement

Beginning in the spring of 2020, as a result of being in quarantine due to COVID-19, I began making photographs at my parents’ home in Oxford, Mississippi. As a result of this experience, I was compelled to make my family the subject of this project. I began to realize how much this pandemic has affected everyone and their families. This visual and personal exploration has grown out of an extremely challenging time. As a result, I have begun to reflect on the memories I’ve had from childhood to adulthood.

My working process includes collecting and scanning images from my family photo album. These images, when combined, begin to create an archive of pictures from my family history. Since these photos have a vintage, documentary style, I plan to use the original images from our photo album because of their informal quality. I think that illustrates vulnerability and allows people to relate to this body of work. This project not only addresses my past but links to the present through the use of digital color photography consisting of family portraits and landscape photographs of my hometown,
Tylertown, Mississippi, and the homes that I lived in during my childhood.

The two primary artists who have influenced my work are Carrie Mae Weems and Latoya Ruby Frazier, who explores issues surrounding race, class, gender identity, and environmental justice. Over the last year, I am amazed by how the dynamics have changed within my family as we grow older. In this project, my primary goal is to show how the events, people, and places in my life make me who I am today.