Western Connecticut State University

Masters Thesis Exhibition

June 19 – July 7, 2018

Reception Thursday June 21, 5-8

PDF of catalogue

The Department of Art at Western Connecticut State University is pleased to announce the 2018 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition.  The exhibition will run from June 19th through July 7th. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 21st. The gallery will be open for viewing from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The MFA Thesis Exhibition is the capstone experience of the graduate program, demonstrating a personal direction and mastery in the work of the artists.

Six graduate students will present their work this year: Jesse Navarra, Jennifer Oliveira-Florio, Jonathan Schreyer, Barbara Sinisi, Alyssa Voytek, and Erin Walrath.

 Jesse Navarra is a resident of New York State who received his BA degree in illustration from WCSU. In 2016, he was awarded the School of Visual & Performing Arts Deans Award for his initiatives to bridge the Art and Theatre Departments. His work was recently published in the Winter 2018 issue of Illustrators Journal with a step-by-step instructional article on his painting from the “Plastic Ocean Project”. Jesse has participated in several juried exhibitions and art charity events in NY and CT. His MFA thesis work explores nostalgia through the subject of movies, creating vintage movie posters to invoke emotion through memories. Jesse writes, “I take my childhood love of movies, sports and comics and use that as inspiration to create my work. . . the subjects all reflect my personal passions. . . all have the overarching theme of storytelling.” 

Jennifer Oliveira-Florio lives in North Haven, CT, and received her BA degree in painting from CCSU with a 2016 Capstone Show Award. Her thesis works are three-dimensional, abstract and gestural, incorporating encaustic, mixed media, and acrylics. Jen has attended several encaustic workshops in CT and MA to further explore her medium. She has also been a regular contributor to the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, MA, since 2015. Along with several exhibitions in CT, she participated in the Community Central Mosaic “48 Artists 48 Feet 48 Hours” in New Britain, CT. In writing about her work, Jen states, “As a painter, I have always been concerned with process, surface and materials. The practice of encaustic has become an extension of my own vision, to the point where technique and esthetic have fused like the paintings themselves”. 

Jonathan Schreyer lives in Monroe, CT, and earned his BA degree in illustration from WCSU. His graduate work is in painting, with additional exploration in three-dimensional forms. Focused primarily on portraiture, he uses a variety of mediums including oil paint, clay, wood, plaster and wire.  In his artist statement, Jonathan writes, “My work is based on observation. Although it may begin with reality, I cannot escape the subconscious and the unreal. We are aware of an outer world and at the same time we exist in an internal space. My handling of material is intended to portray this clash of dualities and speaks to the tension existing between these worlds.” Jonathan exhibits his work in local galleries and has been a studio assistant for illustrator Ross MacDonald. He has also worked as Gallery Assistant at WCSU on the installation of several exhibitions.

 Barbara Sinisi is from Wethersfield, CT, and received her BA degree in illustration from WCSU. She has focused on painting for her MFA degree, working with a variety of materials including charcoal, spray paint, pastel and acrylic paint. Through much of her childhood, she traveled through North America and Europe, with many summers spent on a family plantation in Poland. She draws inspiration from her travels and spelunking adventures, as well as cartoons. Writing about her work, Barbara states, “As an escape from the nonsense of reality, I create portals to other dimensions from the nonsense in my head. I use the organic shapes found in plants to convey a sense of mystery and magic. Through them I explore themes of fantasy storytelling and often draw from the strange worlds of cartoons for my work. Cartoons can be mature and childish all at once, full of contradiction, whimsy, joy and darkness.”

 Alyssa Voytek of New Milford, CT, is a graduate of WCSU with a BA in painting and a recipient of several awards and grants, including the Alberetti Award for Excellence in Painting. Her current thesis work includes oils on canvas, gouache on board, and large-scale charcoal drawings on paper. “I aim to push the boundaries of a ‘still-life’ painting,” she writes. “That has always been the driving force for me as a painter. I am inspired by the quiet, un-staged, usually unseen moments of beauty in our everyday lives. These moments of light, organic repetition or reflection often find their way into my finished work.” In addition to her studio practice, Alyssa has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant in undergraduate painting courses at WCSU. She has shown her work in exhibitions in the area, including Art & Frame Gallery, The Silo Gallery, and Kent Art Association.

Erin Walrath was born in Danbury, CT, and now lives in Roxbury. She earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and is a graduate of the European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. After graduating, she spent several years in Italy and England, and then moved to Brooklyn, NY. In 2004, she returned to CT and set up her current studio in Danbury. In her artist statement, Erin writes, “I see incidental beauty in the worn surface of objects, such as discarded books, that have been battered by time and will soon be rendered obsolete. I dismantle and distill them in the studio, ending up with pieces that feel to me like pixels, brush strokes or individual figures which may then be gathered together to invoke new meaning. In this way, my studio practice often feels like an homage to the comforting processes of nature. . .” Erin has been exhibiting her work for twenty years. She is represented by John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, where a solo show of her work will be held in April – May, following the MFA Thesis Exhibition.

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486


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