Senior Thesis Exhibition honors studio art, graphic design majors

Amy Swanson, Staff Reporter

An opening reception for the Senior Thesis Exhibition is coming up on April 14. It will be held at the Oakland University Art Gallery from 5-7 p.m. and feature work from studio art and graphic design majors.

The reception is open to everyone. Guests can meander, munch on snacks and mingle with artists and designers.

“The gallery opening reception is celebratory and a great opportunity to experience visual culture on campus,” said Meaghan Barry, assistant professor of art.

The exhibition will be on display April 14 to May 14.

Occurring at the end of each fall and winter semester, participation in the exhibit is a requirement for studio art and graphic design majors during their capstone/thesis courses.

Throughout the program, students develop their independent projects under the guidance of thesis instructors. They work with the curator of the gallery and install their own pieces.

Barry, who is one of the professors teaching the thesis course, said students’ work serves as a culmination of their studies.

“Exhibiting and speaking in public are huge components to the professional world of art and design,” Barry said.

She said it can be intimidating to show one’s work in a formal setting while remaining open to criticism and feedback.

“By participating in the exhibition, I see our students gain a lot of confidence pre-installation to post-opening reception,” she said. “With their newfound confidence, they can move forward into their professional lives with less anxiety, since they’ve exhibited at least once before.”

One of this semester’s featured students is graphic design major Zak Plaxton, whose project is a magazine called “Noclip”, which is centered on videogaming.When designing and crafting all of its content, he aimed to create a clean and visually appealing layout with less clutter than is found in most magazines.

For the exhibit, Plaxton hopes to put together a comfortable and homey environment where anyone interested can sit and leisurely flip through the magazine’s pages.

“Since I’d like to have a career designing layouts for a magazine or publication of some sort, designing a magazine of my own felt like a great way to get a feel for it and make sure it was a right fit for me, as well as being a valuable portfolio piece to show potential clients my strengths and abilities,” Plaxton said.

Barry said works of art and design are always related to other disciplines. She gave the example of design students who studied autism to create awareness campaigns, as well as an art student who analyzed psychology for work about identity.

“This allows the untrained eye, or someone who might not be immediately comfortable in a gallery setting, to become more comfortable and to create a dialogue while looking at the work because there are multiple entry points to the pieces exhibited,” Barry said. “You do not have to be an artist or a designer to appreciate or discuss what you see hanging on the wall.”

The OUAG is open from noon until 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, as well as evenings on the nights of Meadow Brook Theatre performances. Admission is free and open to the public.

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