Mount St. Joseph University

A Culmination of Hard Work and Creativity

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Nicholas Sjulin

File Under: dateline

Each year, the graduating fine art and graphic design majors spend months preparing for their senior thesis projects, which will be displayed in San Giuseppe Art Gallery at the end of the semester.

Perhaps the most difficult project of their undergraduate education, the senior thesis encompasses all the skills learned over the student’s career at the Mount, and the process of researching, planning, and designing their projects begins in the fall semester of their senior year.

For graphic design, the students start from the ground up to create an engaging display of a year’s worth of research and creativity. The graphic designers work very closely with each other and the head design professor, Kurt Grannan, who offers advice/critiques about the state of their projects.  The finished product will take up an eight foot by eight foot space on the gallery wall, and will include different design elements that will be printed and hung for display.

Though also part of the realm of the arts, the fine art majors follow a slightly different process. A bit more open-ended, but nonetheless difficult, these projects also take the duration of a full academic year to prepare and complete, but involve less research than graphic design.

For senior Marissa Wisman, the idea of an intensive thesis project did not deter her from pursuing a double major in both graphic design and fine art with a concentration in photography. She will round out her fourth year of undergrad by completing not one, but two thesis projects.

She began working on her two theses this past fall. Her focus for graphic design is on climate change and its effects on humanity’s food supply. She, along with her fellow classmates, was able to choose and research any topic for the project and will be designing an entire campaign based around the selected focus.

For her photography thesis Wisman chose to examine body positivity and natural beauty across all diversities. She has been working closely with her thesis advisor John Griffith, who is also head of the department. “[We] have weekly meetings and set goals for me [that] help me keep organized with my busy schedule,” Wisman says. The faculty act as critics, but also a support system, that will help students succeed.

The senior thesis project cannot be understated in anyway. It truly wraps up a four-year experience into one, final, cohesive display of mastery in the respective subject.

“It’s also about saying something that matters,” Wisman says. She and her classmates spend late nights in the art department working hard to make sure their projects are ready by the deadline.

“It’s honestly very stressful trying to balance both my majors and doing two thesis projects,” Wisman says, “but I truly love what I do.”

The gallery reception of the thesis show is Friday, April 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. It is a chance for family, friends, and other students to be able to see the final projects and even speak with the graduating class. For students outside of the arts, I would highly recommend going to see the gallery. And for the younger art students who haven’t reached their senior year yet, it is a great opportunity to see what they will be doing themselves very soon. If you can’t make the reception, the theses will be on display from April 20 to May 12.