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University Gallery

Current Show - Merion Hall


Common Denominator
Senior Art Thesis Exhibition
April 8 – May 14, 2016


Artists all have their own passions, their inspirations which drive them to pursue their dreams and aspire to be masters of their craft. In this art exhibition, these young artists demonstrate their passions and aspirations to display their inner emotions and thoughts. To these student artists, their works are more than just an assignment for their senior year. It is a way for them to express their ideals. A way to show what they think about the people and things around them and how they processes it all. All the works in this exhibition are unique to their creators. From insight into the African American ‘soul’ to the appreciation of family and animals to a fascination with human interaction, the originality of their works don’t end with just their chosen mediums but these artists carry a sort of individuality in each of their works.

            The Exhibition is where these aspiring artists express themselves through art. For the artist, this is an opportunity to have their work show but it is also an experience to be had by the viewer to become exposed to different kinds of artistic minds. It isn’t just a collaboration of art work by Senior Art majors, but an opportunity for both the viewer and the artist to experience the different realms of art in that can be expressed.


-  Peter Pham ‘17

Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

A L E E M A H    A B D U R R A Q E E B  


Unfair, not Lovely: A Study of Blackness

“And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are signs for those who know.”     30:22 Ar-Rum

This work presents the current state of Black self perception. As the photographer, I asked the participants about their experiences with colorism, racism, racial profiling, and self-perception. Each participant divulges their truth and gives an indepth look into the ‘Black experience’. 


The unaltered photos of Luke Swank, the depth and controversy of Sally Mann, the imagery of African Americans by Dawoud Bey, and the solitude of Dave Heath, have all inspired these black and white stills. Instead of using any other medium, photography has been used in order to capture the raw state of each of the participants as they speak about their experiences and struggles. The result is what lies before you, truth, emotion and a look into the Black soul.






I saw my first fashion exhibit in Paris in 2009; Valentino was displaying his most incredible works accomplished throughout his career. From room to room I found myself starstruck in front of every gown. From then on, every time there was a new fashion exhibit in the city I hopped on the metro with my sisters and friends to go see it. I have had the chance to see the works from the Renaissance, Victorian era to today’s fashion such as Chanel, Balmain, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Schiaparelli and most recently, Jean Paul Gaultier. As I read in awe the history behind every piece I knew that one day I wanted my name to be up there. Having grown up in Paris I was always surrounded by stylish femmes and hommes that inspired me everyday in what I wore and sketched.


It made sense to dedicate my senior year to doing what I love: fashion. Trash Couture is a project that challenged me to use recyclable and sustainable materials. I did so because I am a big activist when it comes to environmental conservation. I have used many mediums for this show: plastic, cork, metal, fabric, most of which were saved from being thrown out.

Fashion sculpture artists whose work I follow enthusiastically are Susan Cutts, Todd Murphy and Susie MacMurray. MacMurray was a huge inspiration for my work. She makes large-scale sculptures out of almost every imaginable material, such as copper chainmail, military barbed wire, violin bow hair, shells, etc. Once an artist manages to excite your curiosity and make you walk around their work, you know that they are talented.


I want my art to express and explore my stream of consciousness, be it silly or serious thoughts, ideas, views and feelings. I want my art to make you feel connected to an idea. I want you to see a story, be it in the materials used, or the process, or the message. I dream of seeing my name is Vogue, Elle and Madame Figaro. I dream to be the one people call to be photographed, wearing some of the most beautiful garments I could only dream of touching. I dream to design and to see my creations on the red carpet. I will keep dreaming of a sustainable world, of my farm in the mountains, not too far from the city. I will dream of a family and of traveling the world by foot with my backpack. However, My dreams collide and mean taking part in a vain world of excess and surplus. Perhaps I can find a sustainable way to have both dreams.


J O E Y   G O R M A N

The mural arts in my home of Philadelphia have earned the city its international praise as the “City of Murals.”  Growing up in South Philadelphia, I grew accustom to murals popping up all over the city of brotherly love.  The bright colors and elaborate designs intrigued me, yet made me think.  They told me a story without having to open a book.  Art placed in this kind of public setting surely impacted me.  It has the ability to touch many lives on a daily basis.  They are in places for thousands of people to see daily.  It is a free art show.  This more comfortable setting created a relaxed and toe thought from within.

Here at Saint Joseph’s. We live the Magis.  Life is about doing more, being more, and achieving more than originally thought.  I believe this form of art can ignite people to live in this manner and be the change in the world they wish to see.

I always wanted to create something that could not only transform a place, but could transform a person.  My experiences and fondest memories of murals ignited deep thoughts in my head.

We can ignite memories for others and even create them.  Certain murals will always hold a place in my art as they enabled me to reach for artistic creativity. The mural of Philadelphia opera singer and actor Mario Lanza placed in the parking lot of a funeral home on Broad and Reed Streets always caught my eye.  A mural of the one and only Frank Sinatra resides on Broad and Wharton streets.  “Common Threads” will always be the first, mural I think of when the topic is discussed as its design is imprinted in my brain and heart.  This mural is on Broad and Spring Garden streets.

I enjoy storytelling, but when it came to writing a story and drawing one, I would always choose the latter.  Having the opportunity to tell a story or convey a message without using words was something I hoped to achieve through this art.

I have always enjoyed drawing, but particular moments in time made me love it.  In the 4th grade, our school received a new art teacher, the late Ms. Deery.  She clearly saw something in me that I did not.  I did not enjoy coloring in pictures with the traditional colors.  I knew fire engines were red, but why couldn’t I make them blue?  I knew that a human’s eyes are above their nose in real life, but why couldn’t I draw them under the mouth?  Ms. Deery introduced an artist by the name of Pablo Picasso to me and his work of “The Weeping Woman.”  It was then that I realized I was not odd or wrong, but just different.  And different is not a bad thing.  This woman sparked my creativity instead of putting it down. 

I remember drawing with my grandpop as well.  I always asked for him to babysit me when was young because I knew he would draw and color with me.  He brought out the creativity in me.  I was able to see things in drawing that I never saw before through a game we titled “Scribble Scrabble.”  I would scribble on a piece of paper for a couple of seconds and my pop would turn a bunch of lines and what once looked like junk or nothing into something beautiful.  This not only helped my art, but it has helped me every day in life.  Things do not always seem to be as they appear, and we are allowed to see things differently.  Even though the human eyes may all look the same or do the same thing, we all see things differently out of them.  This was such a huge lesson for me in art and in life.

I enjoy drawing because art is not perfection; erasing and redoing makes art.  It is much like another metaphor for life.  We have to be able to make changes at times, learn to accept criticism, make adjustments, love what you do, and work you’re hardest to do your best.  No matter what I write in this statement, I can never fully explain my work to you.

The work defines the thesis.  Recently, was reading a book about baseball and its connection to God, when I came across a word that truly explained what mural art means to mean.  It is hard to put into words, seemingly impossible to capture completely.  It is ineffable.  We cannot define these things, but we can experience and know it.  We can evoke it as well.  In a world of science and statistics, art can still give us hope for a better world and future.  Art is something we feel and experience on our own, and my words cannot give anyone a particular feeling nor do I want it to because that would ultimately be going against the purpose of my work---giving the viewer their own personal experience, thoughts, and memories.  Maybe something I created can inspire a young kid to pursue their passion, just like certain people did for me. 



S A R A H   G R E E N B A U M



         It has been said that an animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. I believe this statement holds a great deal of truth for anyone who has worked closely with animals (and/or) has ever owned a pet. After spending time with them, it is impossible for me to deny that animals possess personalities, feelings and even souls. It immediately elevates my mood and warms my heart to see their unconditional love. Over the past decade, with the help of pictures and videos on the internet, this truth has become more evident a to greater number of people. The internet contributed to making animals more available to the masses, allowing people to view animals and their behaviors out in the wild, as well as their interactions with their own species, different species, and humans. In many of these videos, we have the opportunity to see a gentler, caring side to animals. Through many of these videos, I have seen animals display emotions of compassion, empathy, fear, pain and suffering, friendship, protective nurturing, happiness, excitement, and pure joy. It leaves me in awe to see just how similar animal’s emotions are to the emotions of human beings. Many of these animals exhibit qualities of human personalities that I see in my family and friends.


            My family is a major part of my life. I have a large family that is very close and supportive of one another. Part of that family is our two dogs, Snuggles and Abbey. They are my best friends. I have a very deep affinity of animals and an overwhelming feeling when I see how excited my dogs are when I walk through the front door.  In my senior art show, I wanted to combine my love for both my family and animals. I try to exhibit my immediate family member’s personalities in an animal which I believe represents them best. I identified an animal with each person in my family, after searching definitions of different animal idioms and choosing the ones that made the most sense. The animal idioms that I introduce in my show are “deer in headlights”, “monkey business”, “night owl,” “cool cat,” and “a horse of a different color.”


M A D E L I N E   K I M



The things that I have been most drawn to have shifted turbulently throughout my life, from my awe-struck fascination with magicians at age 6 to the intense admiration I had for the criminal profilers on the television at age 18.  But as my evolving mind jumped from one thing to another, I noticed that when it came down to it the common denominator between all the things I wrapped my attention around was simply put: people. 

This is what initially drove me towards the dating app Tinder.  Most everyone my age is more than familiar with Tinder, and for the past year or so it has been a strange oasis for my strongest fascination.  It has been an easy, and somewhat enticing, way for me to meet and interact with strangers, men, of all kinds.  There is an obviously exciting air when hanging out with someone mutually attracted to you, whom you know nothing about, safe for a short (often times empty) bio. 

These meetings can last just a few hours to culminating into a real friendship.  But the first meeting is always the best.  Strangers can be so genuine and so willing to share what makes them tick, sometimes more so than people close to you.   There is a charming level of vulnerability and humility I have noticed from the men I have met up with through Tinder.  Perhaps it is the whole absurdity of the situation itself, meeting someone you have never met safe for a few photos and pre-articulated conversations on the phone that allows this level of shamelessness and ease—or more simply maybe it is just because I have no true ties to their “real” lives.  Capturing the candidness of the men that have crossed my path while living in Philly has come to interest me more and more.

Traditional photography gives me a sort of outlet, where I am much more limited in what I can do to manipulate the images I take. Oftentimes I am documenting the people I am closest with, the people I spend most of my time with. Other times I am photographing strangers on the streets in their most candid everyday moments.  It is a bit of a testament to my fascination with people and how much you can connect with others without much personal interaction.  There is something organic about traditional photography, in black and white it forces the viewer to focus in on the subject rather than outside variables.  As an artist it is also a medium that pushes me to work harder, following the process from image to film to print first hand.

Working on this project I began to notice the similarities in mood and style between my favourite photographers, and the influence that they have on my current work.  Photographers like Ed Van Der Elsken and Dave Heath with their raw imagery of everyday people or Richard Avedon and Irving Penn’s ability to turn the simplest of portraits into powerful, commanding images.  The influence of their work can be seen in my photographs from style in all the tight shots I take, to emotion and theme with the feeling I want to evoke from others when they see the candidness and simplistic nature of the portraits.

I aim to push the limits with traditional photos even harder by manipulating these images of men through the more delicate art of embroidery.  Typically seen as a traditional craft, embroidery to me has always been a source of fascination and awe, and something that requires a great amount of skill and patience.  The delicate and historically feminine nature of embroidery coupled with masculine images of my portraits makes for a contrasting look that works in some way.  Rarely do I set out to make art focusing on any particular cause or deeper meaning.  The imagery I embroider overtop the photographs all differ, each relating in some way to the personal experience I had while meeting up and hanging out with each man, and the taste I got of their character and personalities.        


E M I L Y    S E I D M A N


I decided, for my senior art show to focus on celebrities. To me celebrities are the most surreal form of humans there are. Celebrities influence our everyday lives whether we like to admit it or not. Our hairstyles, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the paintings we paint and the places we visit. It’s easy to portray celebrities in a negative light because with all the positive influences they have on us they have just as many if not more negative ones. I choose to focus on the positive they bring into my life. I chose these celebrities based on nothing more then how successful they are in their field. I researched each celebrity and tried my hardest to find out their personality traits, whether it be from a co-worker a family member or even a third party observer. I took their personality and matched it to a color based on the meaning behind that color. I then used that color to create a unique grid for each celebrity. Behind the colored grid is an object of some sort that represents each celebrity in his or her own way.

Chuck Close has always been my artist. He is who inspired me to continue art and continue it in the way that I have. Close has had to overcome many obstacles in his life including a potential career ending sickness that left him nearly paralyzed form the neck down. Close gained back slight movement in his arms but still relies on a wheelchair to get around. He also suffers from a disease called “face blindness”, making it nearly impossible for him to make out the detail in peoples facial features. With that being said he is the artist who first introduced me to large-scale gridded paintings, which is why I am channeling my inner Chuck Close for my senior art show. I want to honor him through my work by keeping the grid on my portraits and showing the blind eye my thought process while painting. I want people to look at my paintings and understand what I went through to make them. People who aren’t artistically inclined often see art, such as painting to be nearly impossible to do but I want them to see that its not.

No matter who we are or what we do, error is inevitable and accepting that error is what makes us human. Art has taught me that there is always a solution and no mistake is permanent. I love art, every form of it. Photography, painting, drawing, contemporary, ceramics, whatever art it is I can find a way to appreciate it because for most of the people creating that art, like me, it is their outlet. It’s my escape from the chaos each day brings. I am good at art, and that for anyone is reason enough to continue something. I never thought art would end up being my career, I was under the impression throughout my education that art is “just a hobby” and “there is no future there”. That could not be more wrong in my eyes. Art is my constant in a world full of change and for that I am forever grateful. 



J O R D A N   S T R O D E

In this world it’s hard to make it without having people around you to back you up or be there for you. Having family around and people there for you adds so much value and comfort in your life that some people can’t live without. My life is such a rollercoaster with all the things I’ve been through mentally and physically and without family I would not be where I am today. Yes I have dreams, goals, expectations, faith and strength, but without family I wouldn’t have that extra motivation or that extra comfort being without my family. Family is defined as people you love and care for. Once you love someone you will do a lot or almost anything there in need of and that’s what it’s all about, family having each other’s back. Family has always been an importance in my life, I have a lot of family who love and support me, without them I wouldn’t have gotten this far and successful. I would have never started art or thinking of art as a career without my family saying how talented I was when making things or even just drawing monochromatic. I started creating things more and decorating things and took art classes started enjoying them and it seemed as though I was good with building things, but what I loved the most was mosaics. Just to be able to cut slabs, fire them, paint them a certain color, firing them again and then cutting them into random shapes and making them into something or something recognizable really caught my interest. It really calms me down and I just think it’s so enjoyable and it’s something I love to do.

My senior project is based on mosaics that surround my grandmother and the impact she has had on my life. My grandmother passed away June 12th 2015 in a car accident and I was absolutely crushed. She was the sweetest thing on earth; she was loving, caring, giving, and spiritual, she just had the best soul in the world did not have a mean bone in her body. She was always there when I needed her, she always knew what to say or do. When I wanted to give up basketball and school she wouldn’t let me, she kept me going and here I am still playing D 1 basketball doing what I love. When she passed away all of family members from everywhere came together and we were just there for each other. Everyone was just in shock she was so healthy nothing wrong with her just so unexpected and not deserving. Some of the family members that I weren’t close with before this are now closer to me than ever. We show each other how each person is loved and important in our family. Everything I do is for my grandma and just to make her proud because I know she is watching!



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