@capacity 2022 Senior Visual Art Majors’ Exhibition

April 28–May 21, 2022

21 Senior Visual Art majors present work in a variety of mediums including: illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. The 2022 senior seminar was led by Assistant Professor of Photography Leah Dyjak.

Lydia AlbertsAmanda BarclayGrayson BeaulieuMolly DavisVu DoOlivia DohertyTabitha GilliganElla GramlMcKenzie JoffrionSophia KahnHuixian LiElizabeth MatreBrooke MorgantiWhitney O’ReardonAbigail StrobelEthan ThombsKayla TurpinGracie VicenteSofie WestonXingyu XiaoEmma Yount

Lydia Alberts

Middlebury, Vermont

Some sort of fiber art hangs on a stick. I can’t tell if it’s crochet or weaving, but it is very intricate. The one in front is composed of blue, green, yellow, and beiges. The one behind it is made of cream and pink colors.

The tapestries I have created for this body of work are a visual demonstration of the way crafting in art has always made me feel; like I am home, safe, comfortable, and purposeful. In my work I find the gesture of repetition relaxing, therapeutic, and endlessly satisfying . The work I appreciate most is the work that I create using a repetitive practice. I feel most connected to my work when I have a purpose or person in mind for whom the art is made. I like work that can be made anywhere; home by the fire, sitting on the couch with my friends watching a movie or chatting, or in the studio where I can put on headphones and zone in. I want to bring comfort to the people looking at my work, and hopefully the love I pour into my pieces comes through the medium.

I wove the tapestries using a wooden loom and various different yarns; some were bought at the store, some given to me by my grandmother because she had extra, and some were found in drawers in my house, the results of unfinished projects from my childhood. The more non-traditional materials woven organically throughout the pieces are there to suggest the uniqueness of the waves that crash on the shore in front of my summer home. They are also representative of the more stationary shapes of the mountains behind my house. The soft materials woven into these pieces come together to represent the comfort I have found in community and repetition. In a few of my tapestries I have incorporated found objects, including rope, metal beads (pulleys from classroom shades), and silk scarves. These were chosen and given to me as an “obstacle” in order to push certain pieces, allowing them to stand out.

Amanda Barclay

Brooklyn, New York 

A painting of a girl with her hair messily put up in a bun holds up some sort of fabric covering. It looks almost metallic. The pink background makes her purple dress pop out.

In the western world the Greek Myths of old have had continued cultural significance. From architecture to media, music to books, there is no escape from their influence. The only thing that truly separates mythology from religion is belief. Belief is the center of being. It is the influence that allows us to love and to lose. 

In this series I am tackling two loves. I remember when I first was told the stories of the Greek gods as bedtime stories. They were grand and all mighty. Despite a Christian upbringing, the stories of the gods’ triumphs never seemed far from my perceived truth. They were omnipotent. Perhaps they were simply manifestations of God’s real power. I never ruled it out entirely as truth. This series is a reflection of my truths, my changing relationships. I have changed how I believe and how I interact with others. My relationships with my friends and with love have grown stronger. I want people to observe this series and view those close to me as I see them. 

This progression was not about the inspection of my relationships with all of those I hold dearest, but rather those who hold qualities of the gods that resonated most with me. Dionysus has a true appreciation for life and revelry. Persephone brings light and joy to all those that meet her. She makes the best of her situation. Aphrodite was never a symbol of vanity in my eyes but rather a woman who knew her value. This value could not be taken by anyone. Artemis is a similar figure, however she defers in her ability to find true meaning in her friendships rather than romantic relationships. She is self-sustaining. Hermes has always been a figure of cunning and intelligence. He is a symbol of luck and peace, the link between the mortal and divine. I do not see an idealized version of the gods nor of my friends that I have chosen as studies. I see their flaws bright and true, but the light they bring will always triumph.

Grayson Beaulieu

Middlebury, CT 

Some fiber arts creations on the wall. I see some crocheted pieces, and some that look like they are rugs. There are faces and bodies, which are mostly in black and white. However, there are pops of color here and there. It is an amalgamation of different people.

Throughout my time at Wheaton I have created a self portrait at least once a semester, documenting who I was and my emotional and spiritual state during my time as a student. The past four years have challenged me in ways I could never have imagined. Like so many others, I have experienced sickness, trauma, a pandemic, treatments, love, and loss. The Latter is a continuation and conclusion of the current chapter of my self portrait series. 

The Latter is made through the process of tufting and crochet. I chose tufting, also known as rug making, as my primary medium because of its versatility. This work started as a photoshop rendering of all of my self portraits spliced together to create one master portrait. Then I individually tufted each image slice using a cut-pile and loop-pile tufting machine with acrylic worsted weight yarn. I have worked with knitting and needle arts since I was a child, learning to knit from my mother. I recently taught myself how to crochet with books and videos over quarantine. Crochet is one, if not the only needle art that can not be replicated by a machine. The idea of making something that can not be made by machinery is fascinating to me because in a world of automation I can do something that a machine never will. Crochet became something that was for just me, something that I could take time for myself to do. It reminds me of the time I spend with my mom learning and working through projects together. I love the way that yarn can be manipulated to cover all sorts of shapes and textures. 
Behind each element of The Latter, I can pinpoint my emotional experiences, it is a visual diary. Through the work, I can see what I have overcome. In some of the photos I felt helpless, sick and lost. Then I look at the photo that proceeds and see growth, showing I have changed and overcome hardships. I am important and worthy of taking up space even when I don’t feel like I deserve it. I am worthy of being seen and celebrated. I work everyday towards being more confident, advocating for my needs, and creating the space I need for myself.

Molly Davis

Rockland, Maine

I see an explosion on the wall. Newsprint and magazines create fires and clouds of smoke across multiple canvases. There is text here and there that peaks through the chaos.

To make my work I tear and glue, rip and paint, over and over. My studio space is covered in hundreds of shreds of paper and found objects. It is a place where disordered scraps and fragments of emotions and materials come together. I work through the chaos in search of clarity, meaning, and a form of expression.     

I am interested in the conflict and chaos between myself and societal standards, dark and light, peace and anger, as well as movement and texture. I begin my work with a base layer of a desired color scheme and then add layers of assorted papers and textured materials. I usually have no plan in mind, I simply begin and let my intuition lead the way. I tear pieces as I go and eventually clarity is revealed when colors and pieces come together.  

I use plywood, strips of canvas, gesso, acrylic paint, watercolor paint, acrylic medium, woven mesh, sand, magazines, paper, tissue paper, recycled materials, found objects, candy wrappers, scraps of trash and packaging. I am drawn to these materials because they can be manipulated, deconstructed, and repurposed. A wide variety of limitless materials gives me the freedom to be intuitive and impulsive with my art. I often consider the pieces of materials I use to represent fragmented pieces of myself and society. I rip them apart and put them back together, as if I am piecing together how I want to be and how I think society should be. There is power in image making. I strive to create compelling and purposeful art that forces individuals to pause for a moment, come in closer, and think. 

Vu Do

Hanoi, Vietnam

I see two stories being told in this painting. On the left is a black and white portrait of a child, who looks like they could be crying. Behind them is a chaotic scene with very little color. I see some faces and writing, but mostly it is chaos. On the right side is a portrait of a grown adult, who looks pensively into the distance. This half of the painting is in color, with a vivid scene in the background. It feels less chaotic to me, and almost looks like a landscape.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a traditional household in a traditional developing country where art isn’t welcomed. My parents were hardworking people, but they had to pay the price of leaving their kids at home by themselves. It didn’t help that I was often scared of being abandoned. Hence, I adopted a coping mechanism of drawing imaginative characters that could share bits of their company with me. However, I never forgot my parents’ faces, both mixed with anger and disappointment, as they witnessed their beautiful white walls being trailed with permanent markers of “unexplainable nonsense drawings.” I grew a big hatred towards my parents and the world I lived in as they slapped the marker out of my hand.

“In order to develop a self, one must exercise choice and learn from the consequences of those choices; if the only thing you are taught is to comply, you have little way of knowing what you like and want.” The consequence of having to reject my own identity was that I wasn’t proud of showing my Vietnamese identity in America. I wanted to be American because it seemed like only Americans are allowed to be themselves doing what they love to do. So, if I saw my friends on stage, my curiosity and desire of wanting to belong pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing until I found myself on that stage with them. I worked hard in part because I love to express myself emotionally, which I was repressed back at home. Being in America has allowed me to decide that I wouldn’t let anyone interfere in developing my own identity. Doing what you love instead of what others think you should do is the best way to connect with your own sense of self. In my work, I feel like a kid constructing an imaginative world around me. So here I am allowing myself to fill the world with my own colorful essence and find my own connection to the undeniably beautiful world around me.

Olivia Doherty

Fall River, Massachusetts

In this image there is a person laying with their hands on their chest. Around the body are yellow and blue lines, almost like waves. A yellow light is emanating from their head, and right above it a blue eye stares into you.

My work addresses the way in which my Catholic upbringing, queer identity, and relationship to my body have transformed, detached, and become interwoven. Over the years my perception of self has shifted from positive to negative to bleak to catastrophic and back again. This changing relationship with self has also mimicked my relationship with God, faith and spirituality. Through the use of multiple materials, I wish to express these layered realizations, relationships and selves I have embodied.

In these images, I overlay Catholic iconography onto my body, representing a physical connection to the spiritual. This also can be seen as referential of the weight, guilt, and labor that many queer bodies must exist in when coexisitng with their religions.

Tabitha Gilligan

North Andover, Massachusetts

With Peacock Pond in the background, dried orange garlands hang from a tree.

A Curtain of Orange Light involves oranges as the main material, natural light acting as the illumination highlighting factor, and a process heavy involvement in its assembly. My pieces are displayed within the existing window frames of the gallery, allowing the work to become fully integrated with the space. I have suspended these objects in order to demonstrate their relationship to light and movement, inviting the viewer to look closer. Over a period of a couple months I slowly collected oranges from different sources, dining halls, professors, and home. I cut hundreds of orange slices that I dehydrated in small batches with a portable toaster oven over time in my room, preserving their color and structure in order to be sewed together and hung.

In the surrounding windows I have pasted prints of individual orange photographs, highlighting their individuality amongst the masses that are featured in the curtain. I do this to zoom in and allow viewers to get an even closer look at the colors and textures in these pieces that both fascinate and capture one’s attention in the most basic way. Both the sculptural and the photographic aspects of this work use natural light to transform these objects, whether in the creation process or by physically holding them up to the sun, creating a small source of light in your hand. This started off as a personal project that had piqued my interest in how something so simple could create such a large assortment of feelings joy, happiness, wonder, curiosity. slowly turning into an obsession to see hundreds of these small spheres held up to the light to get lost in the glowing carpal veins held within each circular rind.

Ella Graml

Vienna, Austria

On sheets of a semi-translucent material, splashes of color fill the scene. Reds, teals, and purples dot the area.

My work is usually inspired by my health issues and daily physical struggles as a disabled woman. These include complications with my liver transplant and the unique shape of my scar, as well as my sickness, Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), the reason I use a wheelchair. My work reflects my life as a disabled individual at Wheaton College and how I have been treated differently and dehumanized compared to someone who is not. This work represents my senior year at Wheaton College and the discriminatory challenges that I have faced.

I recently have found a passion for painting on plexiglass because it has a smoother surface than a canvas and I have better control over the textures I create. Most of my pieces are plexiglass and sculptures made out of plexiglass which are sometimes broken into pieces. I make art about myself and my disability while simultaneously using parts of my wheelchair to paint. I use colors that are more muted or bright because it has a soft, positive, and calming effect on the viewer and that is something that I want to achieve with my work. 
The tire tracks leading up to my work in the gallery are inspired by an incident I experienced this semester when the school did not plow the snow from the pathways making it impossible for me to exit my residence hall. I was told I was being unreasonable for requesting the pathways to be cleared within four and a half days while I was stuck inside. The painted tire tracks lead up to and end at my floor piece, Broken Tracks, which resembles a hazard such as the snow.

McKenzie Joffrion

In the style of Grecco-Roman art, there are many scenes. It seems to me that they are adding a contemporary twist to the ancient artworks. The first image houses many different characters sitting in a perspective grid void. In the next, the image is created symmetrically, where all the characters stare at themselves into a mirror. The final image houses many different characters, and they look like they are on a clay tablet; their complexion only consists of three colors: rust, yellow, and black.

I aim to bridge the gap between new and old through a combination of digital art of the present and mythological elements of the past. I have taken inspiration from ancient Greek red-figure vase paintings. Through my process of digital art creation on Procreate; the color palettes, design aesthetics, and posed figures have been illustrated in a way that resembles a vase painting as if it were laid out flat. 

The result of this synthesis is work that is both new, old, and neither all at the same time. Creating a quality of timelessness without losing sight of the here and now. While my work does not always directly reference a specific mythological story or figures, though it can, my approach is more about giving the viewer a sense that what they are observing is myth-telling in practice. In doing so, I seek to take the viewer on a journey that transcends both time and space.

Sophia Kahn

Boston, Massachusetts

A girl smiles while she watches a dreidel spin on the table.

This work is a children’s book entitled, “Chabela and the Festival of Lights.” It was influenced by my upbringing in an affluent suburb north of Boston, that instilled a strong value for hard work, music, education, and empathy. My current work with children inspired me to create a diverse and representative storybook for Jewish children to enjoy during the Channukah season. I weave together traditional elements of Jewish folklore and history with the modern diasporic experience, to tell a story of a small fairy and a little girl who bond over the beauty and resilience of the Jewish people, as well as the story of Channukah.  My work is influenced by the above mentioned elements, as well as my Queer, Nonbinary, and Jewish identity. Themes such as Tikkun Olam (תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם, repairing the world through small actions) and equality are always on my mind as I create.

I enjoy finding beauty in the tiny moments, and have a tendency to follow daydreams until their end. I work with multiple mediums, with a preference for paint, especially gouache and oils. To put a paintbrush to canvas and shape the colors there is the starting moment for so many of my pieces. For pieces, images will flash across my mind, and flicker away when I try to focus closer on them—but that image is my starting point. My work focuses on the extravagance of life, with bright colors, exciting narratives, and palpable emotions. My pieces knowingly and continuously teeter on the line between kitsch and craft. That one precise moment of heartbreak, of wonder, of anticipation, of reemergence, and how it plays and influences color, shape, line, and style, is what I love.

Huixian Li

Shanghai, China

Wood structures that look almost like gears. They stand tall next to each other. On the side table are small piles of wooden sticks with a single “gear” sitting on top.

There are many people who have something that they love at first sight as a child and stick to it. I’ve been passionate about arts and crafts since I was a kid, and it wasn’t until I started studying art in college that I finally got the chance to make something that I only could imagine in my head. I am most interested in mortise and tenon construction, and I want to make sculptures by using this technique.

Because of the historical nature of mortise and tenon construction, I want to use only shaped wood pieces in my work and connect them with each other which is the most significant feature of mortise and tenon. Mortise and tenon were originally used in the construction of furniture in ancient Chinese houses. It is the inheritance of the spirit of Chinese craft culture. I’ve been learning it since last semester and I’ve completed simple work by using mortise and tenon. During that process, I realized how much I want to acquire this technique and hope to make a bigger, more complicated sculpture. I decided to make 100 individual mortise and tenon structures and finally put them together randomly to form a random shape.

As a Chinese person, I’ve always wanted to learn all the ancient crafting techniques and legacies, especially those about to disappear. Through my work, I hope that more people will learn about mortise and tenon construction and the ingenuity of the ancient people who created them. I hope my audience could resonate with my work and have their own understanding depending on how they are feeling the moment they see my work.

Elizabeth Matre

Saint Paul, Minnesota

A two page spread. The first houses a green child standing in a blue and purple forest, smiling slightly. On the second page, there are bubbles that all tell different stories. The first has a breeze brushing past the child’s feet. The next shows the child reaching out for a butterfly. Then, there is one where the child looks into a log that they are standing on. Finally, one where their tiny finger is holding a blue bird.

In my book Butterfly, I illustrate the butterfly effect theory that one decision, small or big, can change the course of one’s life. In the following pages the butterfly effect is demonstrated through illustrations. The characters play out how consequences of each decision affect the sequence of events that follow, discovering that every decision made is connected to seemingly unrelated actions. Readers are encouraged to pick up Butterfly and view it from both ends. This allows for the reader to experience the story from an omniscient point of view demonstrating how each moment of one’s life leads to the next and ultimately brings us to who we are supposed to meet.

Butterfly follows the story of the two main characters’ journey to finding each other, one they didn’t know they were on. Each page leads our characters into seemingly unconnected situations, dramatizing the fragility of fate and that it can be changed in a single moment. Throughout the book the characters make decisions that lead them to seemingly impossible outcomes highlighting the crux of the butterfly effect, that is a single decision can have such a dramatic effect on one’s life. Because of the randomness that dictates our lives the people and things that come into our worlds are extremely special despite the nature of their presence. Butterfly expresses that although life can lead you to unexpected places it has a way of bringing us to the beings we are meant to be with.

Brooke Morganti

Warwick, Rhode Island

Five pieces are lined up in a grid. At first, they appeared very abstract to me. However, upon closer inspection, they are all representational. Within the squiggles of the drawings, I see a campfire with smoke, human figures, sunsets, and ocean water reflecting the sun. Only a touch of color is added to the drawings.

Each work in this polyptych (combination of many images) is informed by internal struggle: The landscapes showcase the difficulty of navigating feelings of discontent within an altered world.

The blob figures that are featured in each piece are meant to be blank slates for the viewer to project onto; for me, those feelings were forlorn longing for pre-pandemic life and grasping at how to proceed with my future. They originated as simplified self-portraits during a period of intense mental struggle, but their usage now reflects a full gamut of emotional intensity.Consumer’s Wonderland, the central piece in this polyptych, began as a response to the Society of the Spectacle theory by Guy Debord, which explains postmodern society as having turned genuine relations between people into commodities. The basis of this theory is that the world has become topsy-turvy because of this and several other effects of late-stage capitalism on human interaction. This theory is represented in Consumer’s Wonderland by the elaborate hallucinatory dreamscape that is working itself to death trying to distract the viewer from the fact that its host is falling apart. The tiny figure in the bottom-right corner of the piece is in the very beginning of untangling the falsified connection. The works revolving around this one depict scenes of emotional potency, coping within this altered world.

Whitney O’Reardon

Doors that open to unknown worlds. All the doors have different features on them, and their colors and designs vary. Nonetheless, they are all doors.

My inner world is a state of negotiations between opposites such as past and future, rationality and intuition, and chaos and order. However, something that remains constant is my highly tactile process for making. The feeling of holding and transforming physical materials is essential to my creative practice. I believe that meaning is created through the act of doing. The act of drawing patterns, the act of chiseling wood, the act of hammering through a surface is meaningful because I do it.

Through the pairing of order and chaos in senseless patterns, I represent opposites, double meanings, and dual possibilities. Doors hold multiple significances as pathways/barriers, entrances/exits, choices/limitations, etc. I love the dual symbolism embedded in these structures, as it is a great way to explore aspects of my own identity.

I think a lot about contradictions, things that shouldn’t exist simultaneously, and yet do. One contradiction that I see in my own life is the presence of my intuitive, creative side and my interest in mathematics and strict logic. In creating my doors, I utilize multiple methods of making. Sometimes I begin transforming a door without knowing where I’m headed, other times I have detailed sketches drawn out in advance. 

The ways I transform these doors reflect my interests in architecture, history, and geometry. With each door, I also draw on my lived experiences. Some are literal moments, like the memory of my childhood home being demolished, or are abstract thoughts I wrestle with, such as trying to make sense of the absurd. These discarded and repurposed doors also contain histories of their own which tie into my interactions with the world around me. I am drawn to both the architectural utility of doors and the mystery of what lies beyond. Through this medium, I create a forest filled with contradiction, deconstruction, and self-exploration in an attempt to make sense of my internal and external worlds.

Abigail Strobel

Attleboro, Massachusetts

Here is a grid of beautiful landscape scenes. Many of them feature sunsets, but some don’t. They are all lovely scenes. They bring me a sort of nostalgia for going to the beach when I was a child.

Under the Same Sky was created with the intention of representing unity during a time of isolation when the future as we had once imagined, shifted and became unknown and the distance between one another grew. In order to feel connected to others, I decided to showcase how, no matter where we are in the world, we are all living and breathing under the same sky.

The act of looking at and painting the sky has served as a comfort and the idea for this project stemmed from this comfort. Through the realization that no matter where we are in the world, no matter what we are going through in our own lives, and no matter who we are as individuals, there is always going to be a sky above us. The first step in creating this piece was collecting images from around the world that could act as references. This process involved multiple online postings, asking random strangers and friends and family if they would like to submit their photos, which provided me with the opportunity to get to know new people from around the world during the time of the pandemic’s isolation.

This project consists of postcard sized paintings of the sky and their accompanying landscapes. The decision regarding the canvas size grew from the idea that these digital submissions acted as postcards from various destinations such as India, Australia, Thailand and Colombia. When drafting this project, I had originally intended to use watercolors but I felt that acrylic paint could build up to better create fluffy clouds and vibrant skies.

The Under the Same Sky project has allowed me to feel connected to others while still maintaining physical distance and has created, what I hope to be a collection of stills from around the world, carried through an acrylic medium.

Ethan Thombs

Monmouth, Maine 

There are many red and white boxes that open and spread apart to create unique, unidentifiable forms. One sits on the wall and almost forms teeth, with sharp pieces jutting out. One box looks like it has been cut in half, with what I believe are red handprints on the side. There are many other boxes that have human facial features on them.

I made this body of work to express my experience with the societal standards that are imposed on men and their bodies. These standards surround how men are expected to look and the emotions that men may experience while trying to adhere to them. In the past couple years, I have learned more about how men’s mental health is not talked about or given the same level of treatment to that of women. The National Institute of Mental Health states that “men with mental illness are less likely to have received mental health treatment than women” and that “…men are more likely to die by suicide than women….”

The geometric box-like shapes represent the small yet specific molds men have to fit themselves and their feelings into. If men deviate from this standard, they are looked at by society as less “masucline.” These shapes also represent the marble blocks that are traditionally used to create sculptures of human figures. The merging and placement of these boxes is to counter that tradition. The cutting and placement of the images that show famous pieces of work like Michaelango’s David is done so to highlight the specific, and exaggerated, depictions of the male body. This is also to show the standard of what it means for a man to have a “good” body. More specifically, a man needs to have big muscles or abs in order to be seen as attractive by societal standards. 

This work is influenced by my personal experience with the way society has traditionally defined masculinity and what it means to be a man. It is my hope that this work will bring awareness to, as well as spark conversion about, why men are less likely to receive treatment for their mental health than that of women.

Kayla Turpin

Waterford, Connecticut

I see a delicious looking breakfast. There are two pieces of what I believe to be French toast, an egg with bacon, some matcha and a latte. All of it is just waiting to be eaten. To the left is a phone with a message on it that reads “Brunch for 2, served every Saturday with a side of photoshoots and dreams.”

I grew up playing with paint; creating swift, confident brush strokes where I soaked the page with as much paint and color as possible. These playful notes are still present in my work today. My pieces consist of acrylic paint in thick layers to add dimension, while utilizing high contrast tones to let the highlights and shadows dance across the canvas. With a focus on attention to color and expressive strokes, I use these tools to weave together fragments of my excursions to create a narrative of my daily life.

I find inspiration in revisiting personal experiences and creating a scene that can evoke the overall feeling of the event. My work this year has explored snapshots of my recent experience working as a creative marketing manager in the New York City fashion industry. Between luxurious brunches and office spaces, each piece in this series connects to my journey. I learned to use a camera, travel independently, and navigate my Outlook Email inbox. Instead of self portraits, my work leans more towards that of an intimate diary; a look into my past, present and future.

Gracie Vicente


In this black and white image, a lighthouse slowly transforms into the antlers on the head of a person. Their eyeliner transforms into insect wings. Behind them, there is a transformation of the scenery from a beach to the mountains.

Much of my childhood was spent exploring nature in rural Maine. The woods were a backdrop for my imagined fantasy worlds. My preferred medium is photography although for this project I primarily worked in the digital realm utilizing Photoshop to craft a hodgepodge of seemingly unfitting elements. My artistic inspirations include digital collage artists such as Rocio Montoya and Charles Bentley. I am influenced by my own nonsensical dreams combined with my love and appreciation for our earth and the creatures living on it. Although it’s taken me some time to realize this, I often explore my own anxieties within my work. In my work, there’s a clear contrast between hope and love versus fear and darkness. Those still moments in nature keep me grounded and function as a retreat from the reality I tend to find overwhelming. 

These self-portrait digital collages delve into my experiences with mental health and how I use nature as an escape. I found the experience of taking photographs of myself and editing them challenging. It’s said we are our own worst critics and I found that abundantly clear during this process. However, there was something liberating about removing aspects of my face and adding naturalistic elements as I’m transformed into a piece of art. Like so many others, my mental health worsened due to the isolation I experienced when Covid changed our daily lives. I found solace and peace within nature during this time. I used these collages to further investigate my relationship with the world around me. Although I want to be as still as a tree or as free as a bird, I am the strange, unfitting entity in these works.

Sofie Weston


A chair made out of turf. Although it is a throne in its own right, it probably wouldn’t be very comfortable. Behind is a locker. The outside is red, but the inside is a chaotic string of brush strokes and tiles; I wonder if it leads somewhere. Finally, there are small circular multicolored rugs that dot the floor.

The creation of my work is inspired by artists who strive to cultivate an environment that one can immerse their complete focus on. I challenge myself to break out of my comfort zone through experimentation with materials that break preconceived notions of how they are supposed to be used. Curating a sense of comfort and immersion were my main focuses, while having a slight nod to my life, intertwined to make an illusionary experience to question one’s normality. Collecting materials is always my first step. I may have a loose idea of what my outcome may be, but materials truly inspire me. Manipulating my materials in different ways and constructing them in a way I may never have thought possible pushes me to create something unique. With a focus on furniture, I created pieces such as the Lawn Chairs with an intention of combining inside and outside seating while focusing on texture which can be found cohesively throughout all my pieces.

I know the piece is finished when I take a step back and dont think ‘something’s missing’, instead, my eyes refuse to look away. I use an array of materials as an artist with different mediums; I feel drawn to use all my skills. Particularly with these works, fabrications have been the main material used because I feel that it is a great link between sculpture, painting, and photography. The possibilities with the manipulation of fabrications are endless and malleable.

Invigoration of the mind compels me to keep creating. The creation of art is fluid and expressive, through my work I aim to create unique and amusing pieces. Throughout this process I have found a love for interior design and the cultivation of a space. This experience has shown me the boundaries I can push to create furniture that is elevated to a style that matches my creativity.

Xingyu Xiao

Hubei, China

Here is a grid of black canvases. They all have explosions of vibrant color on them to contrast the dark background. Some of the images have the outline of a mask on them.

It has been three years while the world is still living under the COVID-19 influence. As an international student, I witnessed how COVID-19 has affected people’s lives including mine. Since 2019, I’ve seen the conflicts and arguments between different countries surrounding COVID-19 protocols; in particular, the mask policy. This body of work is inspired by my independent study that I took remotely from Ontario, Canada, during quarantine in 2020. While there, I made a handmade diary to record my daily life and thoughts and to remember the days before COVID. In particular, I focused my entries on masks, nature, and conflicts surrounding health issues and regulations that were being discussed around the world.

I chose alcohol ink as my main material, which I have been practicing a lot throughout my independent study and in my diary. Alcohol ink is a very flexible medium with which I could create abstract patterns using different approaches. With extender fluid added to it, it has the potential to flow on the paper creating a color gradient that echos petals, clouds and air. Since Alcohol ink has highly saturated colors, I used black paper as the base for my work in order to desaturate the colors. The flowers I painted in this body of work were inspired by natural scenes, including the 12 flowers that represent traditional Chinese months and seasons. These paintings are connected to mask motifs, to remind us of valuable things that we lack in this Mask Era.

Emma Yount

Northampton, MA

This is a painting of a cabin. The path to reach the cabin is infinitely long, dotted with some leaves. In the lush forest, the house stands silent with a few winter decorations; it feels like the beginning of spring to me, though. I can imagine all the quiet sounds the woods make here.

Over the past couple of years through lockdowns, travel restrictions, and stay-at-home orders, I’ve found myself wanting to escape. Not just leave my house or college dorm, but to travel the country, to embrace the unfamiliar, and to seek adventure in new places. As my plans for studying abroad kept falling through, I was aching to see the world. I started scrolling through various travel and housing rental sites, fantasizing where I wished I could be. That’s when I had an epiphany: I wondered if these hosts would be interested in a barter? I took the leap of faith and started messaging every small cabin that popped up on my instagram feed that looked appealing. I inquired if they would be interested in a custom painting of their vacation rental in exchange for a stay. The size of the painting, and the hosts listed rental price would determine the length of my stay.

I have negotiated a two night trip to California, one night stays in Maine, Georgia and Montana, a three night visit in New Hampshire, and one week trip to Alaska. So after I graduate I will be hand delivering the paintings and visiting these places in person. I have been interviewing the rental owners to learn about their stories including how they built, renovated, and started hosting. I have found that understanding the hosts’ perspectives of their stay inspires my creative process.

I also consider my studio time an escape. I am able to tune the rest of the world out and hyperfocus on capturing the present moment in each piece. I think about the quiet landscape I will be observing from this small cabin in Montana, or how I will soon be soaking up the fresh crisp air from the vast Alaskan tundra. While I am fantasizing, I know I am actually painting my future.

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