THESISCRAZY 2018 (Part 1): Studio Art Majors! On Wesleying!

Melissa with one of the balloons she will be projecting her videos onto.

Welcome to them first installment of THESISCRAZY 2018! For this first installment, I think we’re going to be breaking a record. This year, we have our first interviews with Studio Art majors! And they’re all included in this installment! Exhibitions open today, April 3rd, and the first reception is tomorrow, April 4th.

If you’re interested in being interviewed for a THESISCRAZY interview, please fill out this google form! If you’re interested in reading interviews from previous years, look here.

Thesis-ing is after the jump.

Melissa Joskow ‘18 ARST and GOV majors, ARHA minor, Thesis in Studio Art

Carrell: Middle House Annex

Title: “‘Behold,’—the comma’s extremely important!”

Exhibition Dates: Opening Reception 4 PM Wednesday, April 11 (Open Tuesday, April 10-Sunday, April 15)

On her topic: “I am making hand-drawn stop-motion animations based off of the text of the Revalation of St. John, otherwise known as the Apocalypse. My videos focus on the themes of creation and destruction in the text, and there’s sort of an environmental element. I’m also looking at the way the text has been interpreted in an art-historical context, specifically printmaking, and thinking about video as the new medium for quickly distributing information in the similar way to what printmaking was back in its heyday. Drawing from all these places, I’m making seven videos that are then going to be projected onto different surfaces in South Gallery in Zilkha. The text, to me, is important, but I hope that the audience comes in and is able to bring their own interpretation to what it is that I’m doing, I definitely welcome that. I don’t want this to be a didactic experience or anything.”

On how she thought of her topic: “I was having a lot of trouble deciding on what to do my thesis about at the beginning of the year, and really just grasping for straws. I had this whole other idea—a couple of other ideas—that I scrapped, and I was talking to one of my thesis advisors Kate TenEyck was asking me, ‘What is it that you’re actually interested in?’ and I was telling her, ‘I really like art history, I’m thinking of maybe going into it after I graduate.’ So she said, ‘Well, why don’t you base your thesis on that?’ And so I went back to a couple of the projects that I’d done for other classes. I had really enjoyed doing a class about Albrecht Dürer prints. Dürer made the first artist-published book about the Revelation of St. John or the Apocalypse, and I’d done a project about those prints, which the Davison Art Center has in its collection, during my sophomore year. Also during my sophomore year I got really into stop-motion animation. I made my first couple of videos with Kate’s help during Drawing II with Julia Randall. My thesis was a culmination of pursuing this stop-motion thing—which Kate actually does in her own practice, and so she’s been really helpful in teaching me the tricks of how to do that—and my work at the Davison Art Center through this class and in other ways.”

On her progress: “Oh god… *laughs* well, I’m basically not using anything that I made first semester. First semester was a lot of planning, and a lot of sketchbooks. I made some draft videos which I then showed at Midterm Critiques, which is our major mid-year thing where all the Studio Art majors come together, it’s a seven hour process, all the professors critique our work, it’s very stressful… anyways, I made a bunch of stuff for that and then ended up sort of continuing to use the ideas from first semester but none of the physical work. Really a lot of the work got done over winter break and in the past few months. You could say that my thesis was done in the past two months… It’s been kind of a big push from there. This is sort of the final push week for me, and this weekend especially, because I install on Sunday. It’s gonna be a crazy-hectic 24 hours.”

On her current mental state: “*laughs* Well I didn’t get any sleep last night because I was so worried about my thesis. I ended up just working on it during the night instead of going to bed, so I guess that’s kind of where I’m at? In general, I know logically I’m in an okay place, but emotionally, I feel very worried about it because there are just so many things I know aren’t gonna happen until my install date, and I just really don’t have any control over that, and that is tough for me because I like to have control over my process.”

On her most upsetting thesis experience: “I have two, no three. The first is just not knowing what I wanted to do my thesis on, so the first month or two of school was really tough because I felt like I was grasping and didn’t really understand the process and really didn’t want to be doing a thesis, but for Studio Art it’s required. That’s not a good combination, to be doing a thesis but not want to do one but have to do one. Sort of a recipe for disaster. And then I remember the night before midterm critique, I had everything finished, but I just started crying because I was very stressed about it. So that was not good. And then this past weekend, I’ve had a lot of technical difficulties. I lost a bunch of work that I had done when my Adobe program crashed. I tried to go to the art store on Sunday, but it was Easter and it was closed, and it was really very upsetting. I mean, it’s not a big deal, but it felt like a big deal in the moment. It had been a very frustrating weekend, but I think I’m back on track today.”

On her favorite form of procrastination: “I always do the mini New York Times crossword puzzle. I never progress from the mini, I don’t do the midi or the normal one, just the mini. I have been doing a lot of online shopping, not buying anything, just looking. *laughs* And also just reading about fashion. I’ve gotten really into and spending a really long time reading longreads that are critically thinking about fashion, which is just so strange because in my life I don’t wear things that one would consider to be fashion, I think, but I’ve just gotten really interested in this world. Another weird world that I’ve kind of delved into—I have to watch a lot of tutorials to learn how to edit my videos, and a lot of them are skateboard video tutorials. I’ve kind of fallen down the rabbit hole of skateboard video culture through trying to figure out how to use the various programs that I’ve been using to edit my videos. So that’s been kind of an interesting little side situation.”

On her plans for after her exhibition/April 17: “I guess I have a week until April 17, and I will probably just be hanging out and chilling. My parents are coming on the 11th to see my show, so maybe we’ll go out to dinner or something. And then April 17 I will be on the steps even though hopefully I will have finished by then—I mean I will have to have finished by then! But I will still be on the steps with everybody else, champagne in hand, and then probably go to bed, per usual.”

Her advice for future thesis makers: “For Studio Art majors, I’d say definitely work with an advisor that you really like. There are so many great professors in the department, and they’re all doing really interesting work. It’s kind of hard because you have to choose your concentration so early, but if you find that professor that you really vibe with, then it’s really helpful. I’m so glad that I get to work with Kate because we’re both interested in so many of the same things. And then also, just in general, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I definitely have those days where I just don’t want to be working on this project anymore, but you kinda have to continue to find something that keeps you interested. Sometimes for me that’s putting the videos away and working on the print aspect of my work, just something different that rejuvenates the process.”

On her favorite part of her thesis: “I think my favorite moment has been—I’m projecting some of my videos on balloons, these giant two-foot wide balloons. I had this idea, bought a bunch of very large balloons on Amazon (all the reviews were really bad because they were like, ‘I can’t sit in the balloon!’ and I was like ‘I don’t think that’s necessary, but okay’), but the balloons have been working out pretty well for me! I hadn’t tested the projection on the balloons before I met with my other advisor, Professor Gambell, who is the Yale University printer, because the graphic design thesis advisor is on sabbatical, so John has come in to be my thesis advisor, and now I’m working with him and also with Kate. I just figured, ‘Well, we’ll see what happens when I show it to him.’ But then it was really great! Or at least I think so, and I think he thought so as well. And we both just got so excited in our meeting, and that was definitely the highlight. Finally, it was all kind of coming together, and I could see how this thing could actually exist in a physical space in a gallery.”

On if her thesis was a song/movie/tv show: “This is maybe weird, but have you ever seen the animated version of The Hobbit? I kind of feel like my thesis would be that. Not that there’s any real connection, but I feel an affinity towards it, and it was definitely a sort of stylistic inspiration in some very vague ways.”

On her theses feces: “Everywhere, both literally and figuratively.”


Giorgia Sage ‘18 ARST major, ENVS minor, thesis in ARST

Working title: “EXPONOW”

On their topic: “For my thesis, I’m looking at the ways in which identity and belonging are shaped through propaganda- and advertising-based image media and the shift to experience-driven advertising through using the history of world’s fairs traditions as the lens because of their relationship to nation-building and citizenship and colonialism.”

On their exhibition: “Because it’s looking at world’s fairs, it’s become an exposition about expositions. The structure is the entrance pavilion of a fictional world’s fair or world’s expo. There will be displays that convey the critical research that I’ve done. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but it ended up becoming this process of visualizing my research process. There are banners and motion graphics about that. There’s also a fake gift shop, because part of an exhibition is merchandising, and that was a good design exercise for me. And then there are some other surprises.”

On how they thought of their topic: “In my junior spring, I was in an anthropology class with a visiting professor that looked at the anthropology of infrastructure and [for] our final paper, we had to do a visual research project on an infrastructure of our choosing. We were allowed to do semiotic infrastructures or conceptual ones or electronic ones, etc. so the idea of infrastructure was expanded beyond that of just roads and highways. I got really interested in world’s fairs. I was at a lecture and they mentioned world’s fairs and I was like *gasp*. Ultimately, my paper wasn’t really about infrastructure, but I was looking at it with networked meanings. I [wrote it] knowing that I wanted to [use] it for my thesis, and over the summer, I learned a lot about speculative design, which felt very related to world’s fairs. I was also working at an ‘experience-driven post-advertising agency’ which I thought was a little weird and silly, but also pertinent. So then that all kind of smashed together.”

On their progress: “My progress? Not my process? That’s such an awful question *laughs*. I think I’m doing okay. I am the fourth week of thesis exhibitions, so it goes up the week after everyone’s paper theses are due, and I only have 3 things left to make and all of them are started. I have to do 2 animations and some banners, but they’re all in progress.”

On their current mental state: “I think that you caught me at a good time this morning. In the morning, I always feel good and that there’s all this possibility, and then when I go to bed is when I get stressed out, because I feel like I shouldn’t be sleeping. Luckily my advisor is really opposed to that process, so it’s been nice having my authority figure encourage the four of us–who are his advisees–to do things that make us happy that aren’t our thesis.”

On their most upsetting thesis experience: “Hmm, hmm. Well, last night I was printing out these banners that are 120 inches long, and I knew that I had to order more paper. So I was like ‘Oh! Let me remember to do that.’ And I ordered more paper. But I figured out–I did some math to figure out how many banners I could get out of my roll, which was 150 feet long, but forgot to account for the one banner I did that printed wrong. So my print was 4 inches from being done. These take like 20 minutes each to print, and because the paper is very thin, it will tear, so I have to sit and roll it up as it comes out of the printer. And 4 inches from the end, [the printer] ran out of paper. That was a minor catastrophe, but was emblematic of the thesis process. But midyear crit was probably the worst thesis experience.”

Favorite form of procrastination: “I like just sitting in my living room with my housemates. Coming home and someone being in the living room or the kitchen, and then conveniently parking myself there. I’m a big productive procrastinator, so I’ll end up latching onto tiny details or side projects that feel productive or related so then I don’t feel as bad about not working. A few weeks ago and, coincidentally, another person in my thesis group both made to-scale accurate 3D models of our exhibits in a 3D modeling program. And no one is ever gonna see it, but that was a good 4.5 hours that I didn’t have to work on my thesis.”

Plans for after their exhibition: “Really not caring about class, and also doing a bunch of small mini side-projects with different people here or different departments that I haven’t been able to work on since my thesis began.”

Advice for future thesis makers: “If you’re doing design, make sure you do a lot of extra design stuff besides type and graphic, because you won’t be equipped to do a design thesis, usually, if you just do those two classes. Also, most importantly, it just happens. You’re not going to have any idea of what you’re doing until February and it’s fine because, as long as you put something up in Zilkha, you’re graduating. You’re getting out of here. Just keep on truckin’”

Thesis as a song/movie/TV show: “How Soon As Now by the Smiths…*laughs*…Wait, Will, I actually have been debating for a long time if I want to have an instrumental of that song just playing the entire time.”

Most used word or phrase: “The present is irrelevant.”

On their theses feces: “You know, it’s a new adventure every day.”

Ray Miao ‘18 ARST Major and Thesis

Carrell: Middle House Annex

Title: 8 A.M.

Exhibition Date: Opening Reception 4 PM Wednesday, April 18 (Open Tuesday, April 17-Sunday, April 22)

On her topic: “It’s a multimedia piece, and the topic is “Morning Exercise.” I’m from China, and in China, the students from grade 1 to grade 12 do morning exercise every school day. It’s a 10-minute-long process including gathering to the field and then doing the sets. Looking back, I feel like that activity is quite meaningful and symbolic in it’s own way, and so I’ve been investigating it. My project is two parts: One part is virtual reality, so I went back to my old primary school and shot some footage of the students doing morning exercise, and with the medium of VR I can bring that experience to here so people can see. And the second part is a video I’ve been shooting this semester. Basically, I constructed this routine for myself, and I’ve been doing that every day this semester, and I document it with videos.”

On how she thought of her topic: “I feel like I had some crisis in junior year, thinking, ‘Why does this major matter at all? What am I doing here studying art? What does studying art even mean? Where can it lead me to?’ During summer when I was trying to think of a topic for my thesis, I searched for the deepest feeling I have toward my experience as a whole looking back. I think my cultural identity is quite important. I feel like as everybody grows they realize it’s very important, it’s like when you try to talk about something, it’s impossible to try and avoid talking about [your cultural identity]. So I kind of just embraced it and dove into my past, and tried to figure out, ‘What does being Chinese mean to me?’ but also, ‘What does having this Western liberal arts education mean to me?’ I think education, because so far in my whole life I’ve been a student, so that’s a huge identity for me. So also thinking about that, I started to think about my education years in China, which is very different from people here. That’s why I anchored into this topic/activity, because I think it’s a boiled-down manifestation of what everyone goes through.”

On her progress: “Last semester I had been figuring out forms. I always knew I wanted to have VR elements in it, but I was here, so I couldn’t do any real VR shooting, so I was working on the other part of the project. I was trying to figure out a way to translate this very direct experience into something more abstract. I was playing with different media, making some sculpture installation and things like that, and shooting some videos as well. But this semester, I think I found what I’m most interested in within this topic, so I can get ahold of that and shift the direction again. And then I came up with this routine thing which I’m doing now.”

On her current mental state: “Actually, because tomorrow will be the first day of the first week thesis show, it just hit me that, ‘Wow, it’s actually happening!’ I’ve been fine the whole time, but now it’s like, ‘God! I still have a bunch of things to do!’ It’s a little bit stressful, I guess.”

On her most upsetting thesis experience: “I was never really upset. There were a lot of technical things. Or like, I don’t have upset moments, but I had a sad moment, where I felt like at the end of last semester we had a mid-year critique, and I got a lot of criticism, which was good. But when I saw another fellow student, Celina [Bernstein ’18], she’s a painting major, when I saw her work, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s so powerful because it’s so real! She’s using her very deep emotions to do this whole thing, and it’s so brave of her to even do that!’ And I felt like, ‘Oh my god, what have I been doing?’ Cause I was just trying to be smart about this whole thing. I think I was being too ‘in the head’ about my topic, but not ‘in the heart’ enough. I was kind of losing my way last semester, cause I didn’t really want to find it. I just wanted to get it done. But I realized that while I’m doing all this nonsense, someone’s actually pouring their heart out, and I was like, ‘Wow, I don’t feel that.’ So I wanted to change.”

On her favorite form of procrastination: “Learning how to puff out smoke rings! I’m pretty proud of that, I’m pretty good at it now! It’s really bad, I mean, smoking’s really bad, but like, I learned how to do that!”

On her plans for after her exhibition/April 17: “I’m just gonna get drunk for like 5 days. Or just get away, I guess. My show is up on the 17th, so I’m actually done then.”

Her advice for future thesis makers: “It’s not easy, this whole process, but it’s extremely rewarding once you’re done—I’m almost sure it will be! It’s awesome to have this chance to have your artwork exhibited in this really beautiful space. But it’s gonna be hard. I think for a lot of people emotionally it’s very hard, so you need to learn how to adjust and take in criticism.”

On if her thesis was a song/movie/tv show: “I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest movie, Ready Player One. I mean, it’s not exactly… I wish it could be like that! I mean we both have VR elements in it, but Ready Player One is a really good movie!”

Interviews by wilk and michelle

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