SJU Gallery Showcases Work of Graduating Seniors

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

by Amanda Sapio '13

PHILADELPHIA (April 7, 2014) — The 15th annual senior art thesis exhibition will be on display at Saint Joseph’s University Gallery Fri., April 11-Sat., May 17. Nine senior artists will showcase their work on the second floor of Merion Hall on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus. An opening reception will be held Fri., April 11, from 5-9 p.m.

Titled “nine forty-five,” the exhibit is planned around digital photography by Shannon Farrell, Toni-Ann Langella and Kaitlyn Psyhojos; paintings by Mary Hager, Samantha Mayo, Manuel Mendoza and Brianna Moretti; and ceramics by Morgan Twist and Tara Vaughan. The students have worked on their projects throughout the academic year in a senior capstone course, taught by Ron Klein, M.F.A., associate professor of art.

“Each student has worked diligently since this past September to create exhibit-level work,” says Klein. “Their art is highly personal; they have created themes that are rich in concept and beauty.”

The following students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in digital photography:

  • Farrell, of Long Island, N.Y., will feature a series of abstract self-portraits. The images, scanned from her childhood, share aspects of herself that have not been shared previously.

    “I used Adobe Photoshop to combine childhood photographs of my family and me,” says Farrell. “Since I overlap multiple pictures — some in black-and-white and others in color — the pieces almost appear to be graphic art instead of digital photographs.”
  • Langella, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., was one of eight photography students in Philadelphia selected to participate in a workshop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Paul Newman Lecture Series. She will also participate in the Disney Event Group Photography Internship in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after graduating. Her senior project focuses on the five senses, forcing viewers to look at characteristics of the body that typically go unnoticed.

    “My images combine the beautiful and the grotesque as they aim to show viewers an uncomfortably close depiction of what these body parts look like,” says Langella. “I hope to make people more aware of the intricacy and ambiguity of the human body.”
  • Psyhojos, who also minors in psychology, grew up in Marion, Ma. Her work focuses on the ambiguity and uniqueness inherent in nature, detailing flowers, leaves and other elements that are frequently overlooked. Explaining that colorless pictures show nature’s raw beauty, Psyhojos chose to feature black-and-white photographs for her senior project.

    “I hope that the classic black-and-white photographs will help viewers recognize the simplicity and beauty in the shape, form and tone in nature, and not simply become transfixed on the vibrant color,” Psyhojos says.

The following students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in painting:

  • Hager, who hails from St. Louis, Mo., paints murals for a nonprofit in Philadelphia called Art Sphere, Inc., and volunteers as a preschool art teacher at the Fishtown Recreation Center for underprivileged children in Philadelphia. An aspiring art therapist, Hager primarily focuses on demonstrating the beauty of humanity in her art, specifically in her vivid portrayals of the elderly. She has a dual minor in autism studies and psychology.

    “I wish to depict the beauty of humanity through individuals who exude life experience. When viewers see my art, I hope they view the elderly from a different perspective,” says Hager. “I believe that aging is beautiful. The people in my paintings don’t care what others think of their appearance; they look as they do because they have fully experienced life.”
  • Mayo, of Potomac, Md., gathers much of her inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh. She knew when she began her project that she wanted to incorporate portraits of people along with geometric designs. Her work includes a self-portrait and paintings of those closest to her.

    “I found three wooden panels in my basement and instantly knew I wanted to use them in the exhibit,” says Mayo. “When I painted the wood, I incorporated geometric designs and three-dimensional imagery to give my work a realistic, tangible quality.”
  • Mendoza, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, moved to Philadelphia to study at Saint Joseph’s. He will display six paintings in the exhibit. His work focuses on social issues involving money, politics and other topics to emphasize how different cultures manage problems. For this exhibit, currency and how it is used differently across cultures, is highlighted.

    “I created these paintings to help my viewers understand that there are far more important issues in the world than just monetary concerns,” says Mendoza. “Because I am from Puerto Rico, and have traveled to other countries, I want my art to be as multicultural.”
  • Moretti is from Bricktown, N.J. Although she has explored a variety of mediums, she primarily enjoys painting, using various color schemes to express her emotions in her work.  

    “Many of my paintings involve female figures,” says Moretti. “Although they aren’t self-portraits, I incorporate much of my personality and emotion into these figures. I make certain aspects of my paintings extremely detailed, which I portray with a thin, fine brush. Other portions are more chaotic, which I demonstrate with wide, swift brushstrokes.”

The following students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art and a concentration in ceramics:

  • Twist, of Voorhees, N.J., chose abstract ceramic art as her medium. She has worked with clay for six years, and was selected to participate in the SJU Summer Scholars Program in 2013, during which she conducted research that explores repetition and pattern in ceramic form and sculpture.

    “My work is meant to demonstrate chaos meeting calculated order,” says Twist. “Ceramic art involves much repetition. Cutting out the same shapes over and over again almost becomes an obsession. I want to convey through my work how out-of-control it feels to be overtaken by an obsession.”
  • Vaughan, from West Chester, Pa., will feature five ceramic pieces in the exhibit, each with a unique shape and design. The inspiration for these pieces stems from her appreciation for serenity and the peace she finds in the balance of rock and stone formations.

    “I like soft forms with cool textures,” says Vaughan. “Every piece I’ve created is hollow, giving them a bulbous shape that provides more opportunity to differentiate balance. Every person who looks at my work thinks of a different object, which I like. My art is always up for interpretation by the viewer.”

Merion Hall is located off of City Avenue, on Saint Joseph’s University’s Maguire Campus at 376 N. Latches Lane in Lower Merion, Pa. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, call 610-660-1840, or visit the gallery website.  

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications/CAS, 610-660-3240,


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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