This week, The Bates Student asks senior Sophie Gerry about her year-long Art Thesis. We are looking forward to this article being the first of many that spotlight the talents and passions of Bates students through their thesis and other work!
First of all, can you give a brief summary of what you are doing for your thesis?
Throughout the year I have been making illustrated books and cut-paper images. (The cut-paper pieces are made by cutting forms into and out of paper with an x-acto knife and then layering a series of those paper forms – like a shadow box if you’re familiar with those). Content wise, I’ve been thinking about the landscapes that I grew up spending time in and how movement through those places has shaped my understanding and perception of home. So, most of the imagery is based on the mountains and plant life in New England – specifically the Berkshires. Despite the setting of my work being based on New England, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Scandinavian artists – specifically the installation work of Olafur Eliasson. Much of his work is based on altering or magnifying our perceptions of space and place.
How has your experience in the art department shaped your year-long thesis?
Over the years in the art department, I have taken classes in a variety of mediums. I think that working with varying individual mediums in depth has strengthened my artistic practice and aesthetic sensibilities because each calls for a different approach and set of skills. The hard skills and the analytical skills I practiced in printmaking, animation, painting, drawing, and ceramic courses were all different, but have definitely all effected my thesis work for the better!
Additionally, I’ve taken classes with many of the other senior art majors over the years, and now we get to all work in studios together and convene in class weekly. Sometimes long hours of studio work feels pretty solitary, so it’s great to have that community of familiar faces and friends to meet with though out the year. We have all gotten used to collaborating and critiquing with each other so it’s a comfortable, supportive environment.
What part of your thesis means the most to you?
I think having the opportunity to work though out the year on an extended individual artistic project is what means the most to me. I love having studio space and the academic support to experiment and learn through image making. I am defiantly a visual thinker, and have always preferred learning and analyzing through image making – developing self-motivated artwork throughout the year has given me time and space to experiment and grow as an artist in my own direction.
What has been the most challenging part of your thesis?
Not thinking about the end product that will hang in the museum. It takes a lot of time to make a strong body of work, and in that time you have to give yourself space to make mistakes and change directions. Usually it’s from those mistakes that the best work evolves from! Abandoning my self-made conceptions about what my art should look like has been a challenge.
What parts of your work includes writing?
All of the studio art majors write an artist statement that is eventually accessible to the public online and in print in the Bates Museum. Our statements are short – only one to two pages in length – but a lot of work goes into them. We have all worked throughout the year drafting, developing, and rewriting our statements. They contain a lot of information about our art and who were are as artists in very little space.
Will your thesis extend past the year?
I hope so! I love drawing and working creatively – I think that it will always be a part of my daily life.