Sarah Cooksey, Chattanooga, Tenn. — They say the end is just the beginning. For the seniors of the bachelor of fine arts program, the senior thesis exhibition is the end goal for their college career. However, this final project is just the beginning of their careers ahead of them.

Contributed illustration by Keren Beddoe A composite portrait of the 24 students in the 2014 graduating class of the fine arts program.
Contributed illustration by Keren Beddoe
A composite portrait of the 24 students in the 2014 graduating class of the fine arts program.

Some will go onto graduate school, some to work at non-profits, become designers or administrators, freelance around town or maintain a studio. Each artist has a different flavor and medium, but their paths have one thing in common; they had a run at UTC.

“It’s the final preparation before stepping out in the world of art and design,” Ruth Grover, the director and curator of the Cress Gallery said. “It’s not just about the work itself. It’s about the thinking behind the work- the ability to speak to it.”

The capstone project encompasses the piece itself, an expository statement, an artist statement and a verbal presentation.

After completing introductory classes, each artist applied and was accepted in their sophomore year and subsequently spent two years in the program growing their skills. “This is a culmination of four years,” Grover said.

The gallery displays the pieces adorning its walls, hanging from the ceiling and resting on the ground in the mediums of graphic design, painting and drawing, photography and media arts and sculpture.

The first show opened April 1 and lasted two weeks. It was followed by the second show that will close April 25.

In the first show, Travis Hitchcock’s piece “America the Beautiful” exemplified America’s hunger for nostalgic consumerism. He replicated a golden American flag, lyrics of the song “America the Beautiful” and a Waffle House menu to embody his beliefs that these imitations are symbols of the United States’ past.

“We celebrate an image of a history that may have never existed and we are nostalgic for a past we have never experienced,” Hitchcock wrote in his expository statement. “What becomes of our history when we portray it in these icons? What are we actually celebrating? The reality or the image? Is it even possible to perceive the reality of our country?”

The first show featured Danielle Anderson, Kelsi Bruce, Alex Chen, Bethany Congdon, Ashley Hamilton, Eric Higgins, Travis Hitchcock, Taylor Kinser, Kara Kollars, Molly Schimpf and Adam Tetzlaff.

Show Two features Keren Beddoe, Claire Bloomfield, Brandis Bovel, Jan Burleson, Chris Hamby, Dolores Hoffman, Adam Kirby, Chase Long, Chris Lykins, Laura Little, Erick Montesinos, Dannie Myers and Maggie Paden.

The Cress Gallery is located on the second floor of the Fine Arts Center and is free and open to everyone.  It is accessible 9:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. on weekdays.

For more information, visit www.cressgallery.org or contact ruth-grover@utc.edu.

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