Thesis in color

Master of Fine Arts candidates are displaying artwork at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art until May 6



“Jellyfunk” by Adam Stuart, on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

NIKHIL GANTA, Evergreen reporter

Eye-popping sculptures, photography and displays of bright color are just some of what can be expected at the Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition, which will be on display until May 6 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Graduate students Sean Sullivan, Adam Stuart, Shanda L. Stinebaugh and Allen Vu are the candidates for this year’s exhibition.

Every year, the museum and the fine arts department partner to host an exhibition that features the thesis works of graduating third-year fine arts students, Kristin Becker, museum curator of education and programs, said.

“It is an important educational opportunity for the fine art students themselves, but it’s also an opportunity for other people to see, for us to showcase what we’re doing here on campus,” Becker said.

The candidates are presenting work in a large variety of mediums, ranging from sculptures, projections, photography and more. There is also variety within the different materials that all four artists used, Becker said.

Sean Sullivan

Sullivan is an MFA graduate from Montana. He graduated from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2015. The art he creates deals with installation and sculpture-based mixed media, Sullivan said.

Sullivan’s eight pieces of work at the museum are derived from a 600-pound piece of cement he chiseled into a self-portrait, Sullivan said.

All my work is dealing with idea of self, self-portraiture and how I feel and deal with my anxiety in public spaces,” Sullivan said.

Adam Stuart

Stuart is an MFA graduate from Michigan. He is a ceramic artist who works with clay and has been drawing since childhood. He taught ceramics in both Michigan and Washington for the past eight years and continues to teach it at WSU.

Stuart created porcelain Bundt Cakes featuring various designs that are humorous, playful and, in some areas, sexual, Sullivan said.

“I’ve never worked with glitter or bright frilly color so this is a new experience, but I’m really finding a lot of entertaining forms and imagery … I’m colorblind so I’m trying to overwhelm my viewers with color,” said Stuart.

Stuart had a positive experience with the support from the museum, he said, and this exhibition will be his most renowned exhibition so far in his career.

Shanda L. Stinebaugh

Stinebaugh is an MFA candidate from Moscow. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree from University of Idaho in 2018.

Stinebaugh is displaying a grid of her work. The artwork in the top row is zoomed in further in every subsequent image below it, providing a new aspect of the piece.

“I enjoy taking the same image or the same idea and translating it into different mediums. Transformation is a big theme that runs through all the work,” Stinebaugh said.

Stinebaugh is proud to be in the MFA program and believes that it has been a life-changing experience for her, she said.

Allen Vu

Vu is an MFA graduate from Seattle. He got his bachelor’s degree in photo media and anthropology from University of Washington.

Vu is showcasing a collection of photography that represents the urban Asian American landscape that he grew up around, as well as his home life.

“I’ve always considered myself as a documentary photographer,” Vu said. “My photography is having this conversation with people in the photographs, that’s the most important part, it’s just getting to know people … I believe photography has this power to preserve this moment in time.”

Vu is excited and honored that his work is being showcased along with his cohorts, and he appreciates being one of the four candidates who have become family to him, he said.

Artists Talks will be held 3–4 p.m. March 31 at The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.  

The candidates will stand in their galleries for 10–15 minutes speaking on their individual works and responding to audience questions, Becker said.

An opening reception will then be held after the Artist talks from 4–6 p.m. and will feature food and music. The candidates will also be doing their thesis defenses, where they discuss their exhibitions with the thesis committee.

The reception, talks and thesis defenses are all open to the public, Becker said.

“[People] should come to see the amazing variety of work and to see what’s happening here in the Fine Arts Program with the masters’ students,” Becker said. “That, I think hands down is, it’s just so exciting to help them celebrate, and to see what they’ve accomplished over these three years.”