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Art & Art History

University of Mississippi

Online Thesis Exhibitions

We are going VIRTUAL! Check out our senior BFA & MFA Thesis Exhibitions below.
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!

‣ BFA Thesis Exhibitions

  ANNA BRELAND: Belle Designs

View more of her planner designs on our Flickr.

Artist Biography

Anna Breland is a graphic designer and artist from Madison Mississippi. A Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate, Anna has been recognized on Dean and Chancellor Honor Rolls throughout her education at the University of Mississippi. During her time at the University Anna has been a member of and secretary for the graphic design club, GRID. Anna also held the position of the Department of Art and Art History’s graphic design intern while she completed her final semester in spring 2020. Throughout her college experience Anna has worked in the service industry on the Oxford Square, where she’s met some of her closest friends. After graduation Anna plans to continue her graphic design career through freelance work as she explores professional opportunities. Inspired by working alongside other artists in Meek Hall, Anna hopes for a career that allows her to be surrounded by and collaborate with other creatives.


Artist Statement

Organization and productivity are two concepts many young people seem to struggle with. There is no shortage of evidence that writing things down boosts both productivity and memory, but many of us seem to feel frustrated with the idea of keeping up with a strict planner or system. Artists especially seem to feel confined by too much structure, and would most benefit from a product that helps organization and works with unique schedules. By having access to a flexible system that supports unique schedules, I feel that young creatives and professionals will find time-management much easier. With this in mind I set out to develop Belle Designs, a stationery line featuring calendars and planners with flexible, attractive layouts.

While traditionally structured planners cause many of us to feel constricted, these products were designed to give an inspiring, motivating experience. As an alternative to the ubiquitous yearly planner, Belle Planners offer four separate planners for each season. Dividing planners seasonally directs focus onto upcoming events, taking away the pressure of an annual layout. These seasonal planners contain color palettes and abstractions that correlate with the Belle Calendar. To provide customizability, empty pages are incorporated for users to take notes, doodle, or plan. Belle Planners also focus on the importance of self-care, by including elements such as spaces for “weekly doodles” and mental health logs. Belle Planners and Calendars can be used in conjunction for annual and weekly organization.

One of the priorities of Belle Designs is creating designs that appeal to and engage users. Belle Planners and Calendars feature designs that represent seasonal changes and the relationship between time and landscape. By focusing on the relationship between season and nature, Belle Designs seeks to instill a new appreciation for the changing environment as users
progress throughout their year. Featuring unique, flexible layouts and eye-catching artistic elements, Belle Designs aims to support creatives by providing tools that promote creativity, productivity, and organization.


View more of her paintings on our Flickr.

Artist Statement

As in music, my paintings share similar qualities that are found in the reverberations and energy of sound. In the process of pitch rising and falling, the pace speeding up and slowing down, an emotional impact is confronted with the listener. The sound and lyrics of music has both the ability to arise the memory of specific events while ironically creating a new unsolidified narrative.

This series of work confronts the viewer with similar interactions as if sound is seen through color fragments and movements of the mark. Each painting mirrors a snapshot in time, but as in a blurred photograph, it captures the transition of one phase before the next.

Among the transitional imagery, there is a phantom presence. The human form is indicated but not enough to discern if it is real or a dream. The painting’s constant state of motion guards the tangibility of each figure. The physical presence of the figure is seen but the attention is brought to the intangible –what the subjects are feeling and sensing in that space. Through the use of abstraction and lack of realistic specificity, a raw emotion is formed between the figure and the surrounding space. In result, the narratives contain a vague reminiscence of reality, however, unsolidified and ever changing to reflect a life remaining in both the present and the past.


View more detailed photos of her sculpture pieces on our Flickr.

Artist Biography

Cecelia Moseley is an artist from Meridian, MS who is pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture from The University of Mississippi in expectation of graduating in May 2020. Currently, she is finishing her degree and planning to explore different artist avenues for a year until applying for her MFA.

For Cecelia, creating art, whether its sculptures or paintings, has always played some part in her life. Being diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, she found it difficult to express herself through writing. Whenever she fails to express herself through words, art helps her, which is the one thing she loves the most about art. In her work, Cecelia is drawn to abstract and figurative work through fabricated steel and cast metals. Conceptually her sculptures are forms and letters formed together create a new way of expression and represent the way many dyslexics see and process the world and learn.

In addition to pursuing her BFA, Cecelia enjoys being involved with many campus activities. Some of these activities include being apart of Delta Delta Delta sorority, Rebel Sculpture Society, and the Art Director for the University of Mississippi Yearbook. When she isn’t making art, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, sailing, and photography.


Artist Statement

Dyslexia changes the way millions of people read and process information which then shapes self-image and confidence. As a dyslexic, expressing myself through writing has always been a struggle. Starting at a young age, I knew I had to learn differently than others because my peers were reading, writing, and speaking effortlessly while I had an incredible time trying to do any one of them. I learned over time that, though I had to work harder with reading and writing, I excelled at other things. Throughout my different challenges interpreting writing, creating art has always been the vehicle that helped me work through the problems. Though it was tough to overcome, I often had people who constantly encouraged and helped me, such as my parents, teachers, and tutors. In my work, I try to express these frustrations with dyslexia in different ways by creating a new form of visual communication. This new language breaks down the traditional writing components into three-dimensional planar forms by using fabrication and rearranged letters.

My own personal frustrations with language have driven my artistic ideas for a long time. The works in this exhibition are composed of materials such as sheet metal, various castings, copper wire, and wood. I am drawn to these materials because of the possible complexity and fluidity that each material is capable of achieving. By bringing all these materials together with my concepts, I have created various compositions that reflect some of the challenges associated with dyslexic learning. The resulting forms are intended to give the viewer the feeling of having dyslexia by creating a situation where they themselves struggle to read the writings presented. The painted and jumbled letters distract and confuse the viewer while the cut letters in the human forms express self-image and how complex, confusing, and difficult language can be for a dyslexic.

My work intends to bring awareness about not only my own trials with dyslexia but also to others who deal with the affliction. It intends to depict the intangible, mental struggles which are not visible to the everyday person. For those people that do not exactly know what dyslexia feels like, I hope to reflect those frustrations and help create a better understanding for the viewer. The importance of bringing more awareness to this issue is so that hopefully one-day society can better assist a person who needs intervention and accommodation.

  BAILEY PILLOW: Salacious

View more detailed photos of her ceramic sculptures on our Flickr.

Artist Biography

Bailey Pillow is a graduate student from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, emphasis in Ceramics. She will be attending graduate school in the fall semester for her Masters of Education in Counseling. She hopes to share her passionfor art and wellness by becoming an art therapist.


Artist Statement

I grew up in a tattoo parlor that quite literally had the words no children allowed plastered on the front door. My sense of play and childish discovery was spent alongside adult themes. Throughout our young lives, we are confronted with concepts that seem otherworldly, due to the fact that they were not intended for children. My work looks at theses salacious themes through the eyes of a child as they discover the grittier parts of life that children are often sheltered from. My art takes a surreal, fable-like approach to this content. These sculptures are a vehicle for me to talk about my experiences growing up in an adult world, and the innocence that is lost as we grow older.

Throughout history, particularly pre-Columbian Mythology, animals were frequent actors in creation myths and heroic epics, which were often depicted through clay. The work that I create consists of tridimensional animal stirrup pots that emphasize a surrealist approach. The use of the stirrup handle/spout connects these vessels to historic items of ritual, but does not provide a specific function. I do not intend for these items to be used as pouring vessels, rather, sculptural objects that reference history and ritual.The plumes of smoke often seen in my work reference traditional Japanese cloud tattoos. I employ this motif to symbolize elevated ideas and transience.

Inspiration also comes from late renaissance Vanitas paintings, which lead the viewer to consider their own mortality through symbols of death and transience. The characters I am creating often have no eyes, and therefore no soul, putting them outside the realm of realism. I am interested in creating work that is absurd, playful, and gritty, while remaining inviting to the viewer. This work emphasizes the ephemeral experience of our childhood selves and intends to serve as a reconnection to that curiosity.

  SARAH ROPER: Art of Darkness

View more oh her letterpress work on Flickr.

Artist Statement

Art of Darkness is an expression of what is it like to live in your own head, using various graphic-design media. Each piece features a quote from English Romantic or Victorian literature, and/or inspiration from Spanish Romantic prints that concentrates on the human thought process and its revelations. Through a series of hand printed pieces, the posters, books and bookmarks were created using traditional letterpress processes. Contemporary digital design work was also utilized. The nature of the handprinted pieces give the viewer the sense of the hands-on process and the touch that was left behind. This work invites those who suffer with anxiety to find a silver lining within the work, that relates to their own struggles.

Art of Darkness portrays the beauty within the struggle of living with anxiety. There are times when the darkness of our thoughts can consume us. The art and literature of the Romantics and Victorians provided endless journeys through the mind-scape of humankind, and glorification of melancholy as an art form, expressing mental restlessness in a different light. It can be exhausting to try to see the good in something so consuming, but there is a beauty to it all, a gold outline to the darkness that sometimes can consume our minds. Through the use of various graphic design and letterpress media, the work aspires to portray a beauty in the struggles of the viewers.

  ROSA SALAS: Sobremesa

View more detailed photos of her ceramics pieces on our Flickr.

Artist Biography

Rosa Salas is an artist and full time student at the University of Mississippi. Rosa was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela “La Tierra del Sol Amado” (The Beloved Land of the Sun). Her roots and memories of growing up in a sunny, cheerful and colorful city influences her work greatly and encourages her to approach art and life in an energetic and playful manner. Rosa is expected to obtain her B.F.A. with an emphasis in Ceramics at the University of Mississippi this May 2020. Rosa will be a part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps Class of 2020 and she will be teaching Spanish in Meridian, MS for two years while pursuing her Masters in Education and Curriculum at The University of Mississippi.


Artist Statement

As a functional-vessel maker, I am interested in the intimate connection between user and maker, and in making works that are genuine to my personal character and history. I envision my work as energetic, spontaneous, and inviting. Using design elements such as line, asymmetrical balance, color, and pattern, my work strives to create dynamic forms.

I am drawn to functional vessels that are accessible, personal, and invite active interaction. Plates, cups and any other functional ware are made with the intention of making the sharing a meal with other people special and engaging. I hope that in my work I can create not only a fun and interesting presentation for food, but also a vehicle for purposeful and valuable times shared with other people.

My sets for shared meals that have eccentric and unconventional form and shapes inspired by abstraction, Cubist shapes, and whimsical line quality. The works’ graphic style, pattern, and play of symmetry and asymmetry come from historical ceramics from the native Americas, such as Teotihuacan, Mayan, and Mimbres pottery.

My color palette is derived from children’s books, toys, and memories of my youth in Venezuela. It finds inspiration in the polychromatic houses in El Saladillo, the beautiful woven hammocks known as Chinchorros, where I would swing as a kid, or the indigenous Wayuu dresses known as Manta Guajira. These remind me of the Venezuelan and Marabino culture and tradition and they also speak to who I am as a person. A balanced color palette with muted, rich, and vivid colors allows a mature version of myself to celebrate the playfulness of youth and child-like joy.


View more detailed photos of her paintings on our Flickr.

Artist Statement

Everyone has a place they go to escape. A place that gives them a sense of comfort and refuge. While these places allow one to find respite, they can also contain memories of grief and remnants of anxiety. Being pulled between a place of rest and a place of unease creates conflicting segments of hope and inward restlessness. Through an abstract framework, I pose formal arrangements of geometric and organic imagery to present similar conflicts within visual space. These visual elements create an environment where forms are both harmonious and distressed. This opposing visual combination forms a parallel with the tensions of one’s environment.

Within each space there is a constant visual push and pull, a back and forth between the elements. This communicates the emotional and physical conflicts of one being pulled in multiple directions at once. A sense of security and push back is given by the seemingly unmoveable, densely painted forms as they guard and force the gaze around them. The space is equally unsettling by the passive areas that have been agitated and disturbed allowing the viewer to pass through them.

While my paintings are initially formal arrangements, they are purposefully curious in their construction. The surface of my paintings have a history within themselves. Remnants of each layer are present throughout but there are many layers kept from being discovered. These layers, like memories, have been plastered over in the attempt to discard and mask what was before it. This begins to put the painting into question, because the viewer realizes they are not allowed to see fully into the process.

As an abstract painter, I am afforded the ability to represent something specific yet in a symbolic way. It asks the viewer to engage with forms taken from reality but simplified and reconstructed into a new language of form and space. Abstractness allows these works to display something deeply emotional through a foreign construct. The focus of the work becomes more about the potential of what the forms become and the conversation that is formed between them.

  BLYTHE SUMMERS: The New Native

View more detailed photos of her cyanotypes on our Flickr.

Artist Biography

Blythe Summers is a digital photographer from Madison MS. She is a graduating senior in the BFA imaging arts program. She focuses mainly on the cyanotype process and creating imagined landscapes digitally through photoshop. Her work is mainly driven by our connection and influence with the natural world around us.


Artist Statement

As a southerner and Mississippian, I have always seen Kudzu as an iconic Mississippi landscape. I am fascinated by Kudzu’s ability to completely engulf a landscape transforming the space into a seemingly different world. These spaces and moments in the landscape where Kudzu has taken over inspires me to create worlds where Kudzu had completely engulfed the south, as a symbol of how our actions can shape the environment around us as a whole.

In the 1930s Kudzu was brought to the south from Japan as a tool to combat soil erosion and due to rising temperatures, it is slowly encroaching on more and more land within the United States. The New Native is a series of imagined landscapes that depict the future of the south if we do not address current environmental issues facing the region. Each unique large format, tea-stained cyanotype allows the viewer to be surrounded in the space just as Kudzu engulfs the landscape. The images in these large-format prints are created from multiple photographs that are combined digitally to create one seamless image. The photographic sculpture consists of one of a kind digital cyanotypes that create a space allowing the viewer to step inside an imagined landscape.

The imagined worlds in The New Native could become our future reality as Kudzu becomes a native species to the south and beyond. Each piece in this exhibition is meant to create feelings of awe, curiosity, and fear in the viewer if we do not stop the environmental issues that are plaguing our environment. As Kudzu creeps towards the north it will always serve as a personal reminder of what Mississippi landscapes have undergone and what the future holds for us.

  WYATT WEST:: Cottonmouth Creek Brewing Co.

See more of this brewery on his website.

Artist Biography

Wyatt West is a freelance designer from central Mississippi. Currently, he is finishing his BFA degree in graphic design from the University of Mississippi and after graduation plans to pursue a job in the industry, while also maintaining his own freelance design studio. His work focuses mainly on branding, identity, and web design. Wyatt hopes that his work can help elevate the value of design in his local community and is motivated to attract like-minded clients that share his passion. Wyatt Graphics is open and ready to take on new clients that want to make a difference in their own communities.


Artist Statement

Over the past few semesters, I have become increasingly drawn to branding work that highlights unique stories and helps elevate small businesses through design. After graduation, I hope to utilize my skills in branding, packaging, and identity design, to not only solve visual problems for my clients but to elevate their brand to tell their individual stories. One of my main goals as a designer is to be able to work with local businesses in order to help strengthen their branding in hopes to better the community as a whole.

As I aim to specialize in identity design, I decided to create a business from the ground up to highlight my abilities in brand development and utilize the case-study as proof of concept in my portfolio. I chose to design a brewery do to the conceptual freedom that comes inherent throughout the craft-brew scene. One of the main focuses surrounding the identity of this brewery was to keep it local to where I grew up, inspired by Mississippi’s working-class spirit and a blue-collar mentality. Having been born and raised in central Mississippi, my surroundings were the main source of inspiration developing the concept behind Cotton Mouth Creek Brewing Company. Within this conceptual business, there is an underlying theme of pride towards the state of Mississippi drawing reverent cues from our southern way of life.

I wanted to accomplish a diverse range of products and utilize a variety of techniques throughout the visual identity; while at the same time maintaining a cohesive look to what I envision a brewery from Mississippi should look like. Balancing the nostalgic with modern aesthetics, the identity utilizes bold typography, hand-drawn illustrations, and a limited color palette to create a new, yet personable visual language. The identity exemplifies the hard work and grit of the state while also not taking itself too seriously. I hoped to make a relatable experience that is true to its roots and approachable to the local market.

I am inspired by smaller studio agencies who support local business and admire the work from the Forefathers Group and Brethren Design Company who take on work and clients they stand behind and believe in. Of course, I want my work to stand out amongst/within the global design community, but my goal is the same as these smaller agencies—I hope that my work elevates the value of design in my local community first and foremost and helps to attract more of the type of work I am passionate about while getting the opportunity to make a difference alongside like-minded clients.

‣ MFA Thesis Exhibitions


View more detailed photos of her sculpture pieces and video on our Flickr.

Artist Statement

Through the acts of observing, collecting, and exploring nature, I investigate the transformations of oneself. I am drawn to the moments that prompt change within each of our lives, and how these moments alter our perspective of the world. When I create, I am investigating different ways in which to alter a space while also mimicking various qualities of nature. Memory, place, and time are all bound together when fabricating who we are.

Through the exploration of the natural world, I am drawn towards capturing various aspects of the landscape. I photograph and draw the land, while also considering the small components that make up the larger picture. Along with this documentation of the land, I acquire other materials like leaves, seeds, and rocks. For me, the acquisition of the small materials functions in a similar way to that of the photograph, as I aspire to capture the moments spent in the natural world. These materials then come together to create a larger collection that serves as my own memory bank. It is through these places I’ve visited, over the span of time, that memories are created.

Our memories are composed of moments of hardship and triumph. Sometimes these moments impact us immediately, while certain situations may change our outlook gradually. Either way, we are experiencing change with the consideration of time. I explore time through the use and alteration of both inorganic and organic material. With an organic material such as wood, we can examine the crosscut of a tree trunk, and while counting its rings, remembering that it originated and grew from a seed. While a material like steel can be exposed to natural elements and, over time, eventually oxidize, leaving behind its own residual mark. Both materials are important examples of documented time and reflect the relationship that we have with nature.

Through the use of textures, scale, material, and color, I explore how the work is interacted with and the impression it leaves behind. As each viewer examines the work, I hope they take a moment to contemplate their place and impact within the natural world. here, now is a reminder that our surroundings will continue to change, and that we too, will change over time.

  WILLIAM MCCOMB: Daily Rhythms

View more of his ceramic pieces on our Flickr.

Artist Statement

In a time when isolation has become the status quo, ​Daily Rhythms ​stands as a reminder of the power of human connection. Through careful composition and grouping, the utilitarian pottery in this show suggests that users allow themselves to connect – with objects, with meals, and with company.

Formally, the functional ceramics of ​Daily Rhythms​ balance strength and grace, curve and angle, stasis and movement. Decoration is minimal and textural, composed of gestural marks made in the wet clay. Possessing a directional and rhythmic energy, the marks are a visceral record of the process of making. They offer a reminder that another human has reached out through material to serve, support, and enrich your daily life. Matte glaze surfaces amplify underlying textures through dynamic strata of color and finish. Groupings of pots work to evoke the social interactions that unfold around a shared meal.

With dynamic surfaces and subtle implied meanings, my pots are meant to be slowly contemplated and explored, not rapidly consumed. Serving steadfastly, they hope to become lifelong companions. In an era of ever-accelerating consumption, when our experiences are growing more ephemeral, solitary, and disposable I am committed to objects that feel solid in their physicality. As utilitarian objects, I hope that they can bring a sense of humanity and character to user’s intimate daily rhythms.

  IAN SKINNER: Remnant

View more detailed photos of his sculpture pieces on our Flickr.

Artist Statement

This body of work is the result of an exploration of material, form, surface, and craft that elevates commonly seen elements found within both industrial and natural environments. I accentuate the inherent qualities of the materials used, to reflect the history and beauty of the objects in their re-imagined compositions. I accomplish this through the use of recycled materials as well as newly fabricated industrial elements. The use of commonly seen industrial elements and recycled components creates universal connections with a wide demographic of viewers. The forms used in the final objects reference structures, and periods of time, that we are all indelibly tied to, yet these objects are easily ignored as industrial refuse. The works much like the structures they reference alludes to the act of their former creation and eventual degradation.

I present the viewer with how our day to day lives are laced with these elements, and how our memories are shaped by our interactions with them in the environment. The interplay between these natural and human-made remnants and the way we unconsciously interact with them intrigues me. Through bringing overlooked industrial objects to a fine art perspective, I impart this same feeling onto the viewer.

Pairing these elements together in a resonant manner, I let the components guide the final composition. The resulting balance and tension that comes together emphasizes the original design aesthetics of the object and creates a contradiction of the objects’ initial function as a component and its current presentation. Further bring into question why these objects have anthropological importance and why one should look at them from an artistic perspective.