MFA students showcase artistic thesis projects to community
The artistic talents of Liberty University’s first residential Masters of Fine Arts program graduating class are coming to downtown Lynchburg this week, giving Lynchburg locals and visitors an opportunity to view their visual thesis projects firsthand.
The showcase, named “8,” will be on display from May 14-16 at Tresca on 8th, a downtown ballroom venue located on Commerce Street. Viewing hours are 5-8 p.m. Placing the displays in a public setting downtown allows for the students’ work to have an impression on the greater community, explained Todd Smith, chair of Liberty’s Department of Studio & Digital Arts (SADA).
For their thesis projects, students in the program spent the past academic year working to create a visual solution to a problem of their choosing. From a series of photographs that show the five stages of grief to a full-fledged visual marketing campaign that seeks to train and inspire the upcoming generation of leaders, the projects vary in scope and purpose, though each seeks to use creative design to make practical solutions.
“With the MFA, we have really adopted the idea that what we create is meant to reflect God’s creativity in a variety of environments and bring Him glory,” Smith said. “If you look at the work that these students have done, you can see that they have taken that approach and have developed work that I think can create the future.”
Hannah Lynch, one of the eight residential MFA graduates, has a background in fashion merchandising. She said the MFA program helped her combine her entrepreneurial and creative sides to launch a stationery and paper goods business as part of her thesis project. Her business, “Hannah Kathryn Studio,” is now in its beginning stages and was spurred by Lynch’s desire to find a way to make her creative products stand out from the rest in the marketplace. Lynch, who mixes elements of graphic design and traditional studio art into her work, put together a collection of items from throw pillows to tote bags and envelopes for her thesis — many of which can be purchased at the downtown exhibition.
“Through the (MFA) program, I have been opened up to this whole new world of prints and paper goods, and it helped me realize that this is really where my heart is at now,” Lynch said. “The department has always really supported and mentored me by taking a risk on me even though my artistic background was different at the start.”
Joey Wright, another graduating MFA student, said his thesis project sprung from the idea that there is too much visual communication in the world, and he sought to “cut through the noise” by using storytelling through graphic design. Wright hopes to use his skills to branch into app development and motion graphics and said that he has grown both as an artist and a professional through the degree path.
“I really chose to come to Liberty for my MFA because I know that the professors and faculty here have my best interests at heart,” Wright said. “Through this process, I was pushed toward a higher level of thinking and to pursue some of the bigger picture ideas. It’s really showed me that even with this thesis I’m working on, and the studies I’m pursuing, that I can apply my skills to all types of design in my life.”
Because Liberty’s MFA degree is considered a terminal degree, it also opens up doors for each of the graduates to pursue teaching careers in higher education. Smith said Liberty seeks to find practical avenues for its students to utilize their creative skillset.
Liberty’s MFA program has on-campus tracks for students who want to concentrate in studio art or graphic design, as well as an online graphic design program. Visit Liberty.edu/SADA for more information on the program, including a list of LU’s SADA degree programs.