2017 Fine Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition, Haverford College

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Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Haverford College 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford PA 19041 www.haverford.edu/exhibits ¡ 610-896-1287 Gallery hours: Monday-Friday 11am-5pm Saturday-Sunday 12pm-5pm This catalog was produced on the occasion of the Fine Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition May 5 -12, 2017

Fine Arts

Senior Thesis Exhibition MAY 5 -12, 2017 Opening reception: Friday May 5, 5:30-7:30pm

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery

John B. Hurford ‘60 Humanities Center Haverford College 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford PA 19041


he Department of Fine Arts is pleased to present the 2017 Senior Thesis Exhibition, marking the graduation of Jennifer MĂŠndez Alba, Holden Blanco, Cordelia Larsen, ZoĂŤ Lewis, Juliana Montinola, Natalie Newman, Chau Nguyen and Connie Wen.

All majors in fine arts are required to take the intensive, year-long Senior Seminar, during which they explore the themes, methods, and concepts presented in this exhibition. Throughout the year, they master the techniques and develop the visual vocabulary in their concentration to shape a coherent body of work. For the eight seniors graduating in 2017, the exhibition represents the culmination of their study at the Fine Arts Department at Haverford College. The Fine Arts Department encourages students to bring to their art the full weight of the liberal arts education they have gained at Haverford. This year-long thesis project reflects their individual growth as well as their commitment to the cultural vitality of the wider community. Hee Sook Kim

Chair of Fine Arts Department

The Class of 2017 : Jennifer MĂŠndez Alba printmaking Holden Blanco photography Cordelia Larsen drawing ZoĂŤ Lewis printmaking Juliana Montinola sculpture Natalie Newman painting Chau Nguyen painting Connie Wen printmaking

Diagrams on studio wall, Parker House March 15, 2017

Jennifer Méndez Alba printmaking What Grounds Me(an)


emories are strongly linked to places, and homes represent a refuge for most. I’ve spent part of every year in the Dominican Republic. My family home there has served as a protective and peaceful place set apart from where I grew up in the Unites States. Although my time in Santo Domingo was spent with family, I was always a visitor and could distinctly note changes in the air after months away from the architecture, smells, language, and traditions. This installation reproduces Dominican design and crafts in the hope of capturing their essence before they fade from the modernizing urban landscape of Santo Domingo. I present a piece of home as a shelter for daydreaming and as a space for connecting with others. Reduction of detail is an expected outcome when recalling a space. This installation is housed in a welded frame in the shape of a generic home—a pitched roof and square frame. Hanging from the frame like walls are merely unbleached muslin panels. Direct acetone transfers of Dominican paintings adorn these panels. The 64 square feet of flooring is comprised of 144 laminated, risograph prints, which mimic cement

tile designs common in the Dominican Republic and other Spanish-influenced, Afro-Caribbean countries. Three handwoven, recycled-fiber, rush seats humbly furnish the space. In reproducing traditional crafts and materials I opted for environmentally conscious methods that reduced the material costs. The paintings and floor patterns were designed digitally from archival references and recreated one layer of color at a time, and the rush seats were created following traditional practices, although with recycled consumer material. The welded framework and space was directly taken from historical references of the pre-Colombian natives, the Taino, or “good people,” whom Columbus met. In recreating these tokens of a specific culture and place I sought to understand their historical underpinnings. The idea of home is pivotal in formulating identity as it offers those who migrate, beyond invisible borders, a sense of belonging and cultural grounding. Home can mean more than literal ground; it can be an attitude or an aesthetic (there instilled) that makes you who you are no matter where you are. A home can connect you to other times and different people.


Final fall critique, Parker House December 7 Left:

Preparing for group critique in Parker House February 22 Right:

Sorting tiles in the Foundry February 22


The assembled frame in the Foundry April 19 Above, left and right:

Welding the frame, Foundry April 12 Right:

Trial assembly of floor tiles April 17

Gino 2017

archival inkjet print 14 x 10 in.

Holden Blanco photography

A South Street Aperture


’ve never been very good at drawing or painting. I always used to try to draw pictures of my family and friends, or my favorite fantasy movie characters. My pictures never came out exactly the way I wanted until I discovered photography. I have always found people to be fascinating—how every single one of us is different. It’s the same with a photograph. It’s nearly impossible to recreate a photograph of a person in exactly the same way each time; each new photo is different from the last. That’s why I photograph people. These images of people on South Street go beyond the paper they’re printed on; they represent a story, a history, a lifetime of experience. My photographs do not focus on race, gender, or age; but rather, they focus on my interactions with a wide and diverse array of individuals. The images range from the documentary to the explanatory. The diversity of images helps encompass a representation of the South Street—the commercial street in South Philadelphia is filled with interesting people and stories. This part of the neighborhood acts as a medium to facilitate interactions among my subjects, and subsequently, these photographs.

I have chosen to use 35mm black-and-white film and the grain and aesthetic that comes with it. The production of a black-and-white film image cannot be replicated with digital equipment. Using film also slows down the photographing process, as each image is carefully captured individually and not by a burst of 50 digital captures. Carefully composing one shot at a time connects me with the process of photographing these people. The portraits when presented together as a collage help create a profile of South Street. The images vary in size, which helps emphasize the most important images. The chosen and matted images selected from the collage create a separate and individualized perspective of my time in the community. They show how South Street isn’t a person; it’s a place and it’s a community. The people who inhabit South Street are what bring it to life. Making “A South Street Aperture” allowed me to build a relationship with South Street. By comparing the wide array of images with one another, I’ve created a visual representation of my own experiences on South Street.


Pulling a print in the Locker Building February 7 Left:

Studio wall, Parker House March 15

A Sweet Ride to Philly AIDS Thrift 2017

archival inkjet print 10 x 14 in.

Mara 2017

archival inkjet print 10 x 14 in.

Spring midterm group critique in Parker House March 15

Derek 2017

archival inkjet print 10 x 14 in.

Baron Samedi: 2016-17 acrylic, pencil, marker and espresso on wood 41 x 18½ in.

Cordelia Larsen

drawing Gray


aitian Vodou has long been stigmatized and tainted, warped by Western projections that connect the religion to witchcraft and death. Historically, Vodou, a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, is rooted in ceremonies and offerings to spirits of lwa in an effort to bring clarity and prosperity to the lives of practitioners. Haiti’s violent history of colonization and enslavement has forced Christianity into many aspects of Vodou—for example, lwa such as Erzulie Freda and Baron Samedi are figures comparable to the Christian saints. While I was not raised to practice Vodou I have long been mystified by the stark difference in its representation in American films versus what I know to be true. My father was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and my mother has Irish and German roots. I have often felt torn between these two sides. When approaching my project, I knew that I would focus my illustrations on creating contemporary representations of Vodou spirits, while using my biracial identity as a lens. While my racial background is certainly a source of joy and pride and I feel enriched by the broad cultures it has allowed me to explore and engage with, biracial is also a word fraught with confusion as it holds anxiety, responsibility, tension, and anger.

Through my senior project, I explore the broad notion of what being biracial looks and feels like, while drawing inspiration from Haitian folk art, graphic novels, contemporary artists, and Vodou. I have put heavy emphasis on themes and symbols prevalent in European paintings and Haitian folk art in an attempt to juxtapose the two very different and often clashing cultures and styles. My series also considers the different ways in which biracial students identify with and how our physical appearance often determines our selfhood. I have worked primarily in gray tones to reflect that author Naomi Zack uses the word gray to popularly refer to biracial individuals. The word gray is significant, as it is specific to a black and white racial mix. By illustrating on wood, in addition to paper, I have tried to draw attention to these materials’ middle-toned materiality and raw quality; these traits are comparable to my biracial status. In Haiti, wood charcoal is burned to fuel the majority of Haitians cooking and heating needs—but 99 percent of the forest has been lost and what little remains continues to be chipped away. In my pieces, portions of the wood have been smudged with charcoal in an attempt to imitate burn marks to reference the charcoal material itself, as it is the primary cause of deforestation in Haiti.


Studio in Parker House February 22 Upper and middle right:

Group critique at Parker House February 22 Lower right:

Erzulie Freda 2016-17 acrylic, pencil, marker and espresso on wood 18½ x 24 in.

Hair Flexibility 2017 pencil on paper 24 x 18 in.

Internal (in progress) 2016-17 acrylic, pencil, marker and espresso on wood 18½ x 24 in.

Swimming Pools (in progress, detail) 2017 acrylic, pencil, marker and espresso on wood 24 x 48 in.

Loggerhead Seaturtle 2016

paper lithography 8½ x 11 in. (plate)

ZoĂŤ Lewis printmaking


rowing up, I always admired the natural beauty of my home state of South Carolina. The variety of ecosystems across the state, from the coastal waterways up through the Piedmont Mountains, provides a variety of homes for a diverse group of animals. Sadly though, many of these native animals are endangered and threatened with extinction. This series of lithographic prints illustrates a number of these endangered and threatened species. Printmaking and the ability to make editions are seemingly contradictory to extinction, as one image can be reproduced multiple times. Yet, the method of paper lithography references temporality within each print. After printing, the plate cannot be reused. It is gone, extinct in a way. And while more copies of the image can be made from new plates, each print goes through its own cycle of creation and death. Illustrating every endangered or threatened species would be far too expansive a project, but this series provides examples from all classes in order to display some of this diversity. The images of the animals themselves are simple,

black outlines representing the endangered or threatened status of these animals. They are but a graphic outline of their living counterparts. While the animals are left empty and colorless in the prints, they appear in concert with bright, bold-patterned backgrounds. These backgrounds, inspired by geometric patterns, provide an abstract landscape to place my drawings into. The joining of art and geometry is not unheard of, as the tessellated, illusionary works of Escher are one source of inspiration for me. The abstract backgrounds extract the animals from their natural context, further reflecting their threatened or endangered status. And while the backgrounds are abstract, they are not arbitrary. The shapes and colors chosen mimic the shapes, patterns, or coloring of the animal itself and its environment. As the animals presented here in my images are overpowered and overwhelmed, they are similarly forced from their natural environments in the real world.


Indiana Myotis 2016

paper lithography 8½ x 11 in. (plate)


Group critique at Parker House February 22 Right, top:

Pulling a print in the Locker Building December 7 Right:

Carolina Pygmy Sunfish 2016-17

paper lithography 8½ x 11 in. (plate)


Studio wall, Parker House March 15 Below::

Pulling a print in the Locker Building December 7 Right:

Eastern Indigo Snake 2017

paper lithography 11 x 8½ in. (plate)

Trial installation of vessels in Foundry April 12

Juliana Montinola sculpture



ailing from Manila, Philippines, I am no stranger to dense, chaotic environments wrought with overpopulation and poor air quality. With little access to green spaces, I became drawn to plants. I was fascinated by their ability to purify air pollutants and their symbiotic relationship with humans. The act of creating a meaningful relationship with plants struck me as the antithesis of the worst aspects of urban lifestyles, such as stress and poor health. My senior thesis is an installation that draws influence from the natural world and incorporates chrysanthemums into its form. Its design revolves around concepts of growth, purification, and protection. Breathe is an installation comprised of several white vessels, which are attached to the wall at various heights and angles. Their positions follow the flow of a branch in an otherwise blank and secluded alcove of the gallery. Each vessel is unique in size, shape, and design. Their forms are

heavily influenced by the organic twists of butterfly cocoons and seashells, expressed in the angular, man-made language of paper folds. These vessels contain live chrysanthemums, which are incorporated into the installation to highlight the benefits that greenery offers us. This particular chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) was chosen for its ability to cleanse up to six different urban pollutants, making it one of the most efficient air purification plants evaluated by NASA’s clean air study. In the hostile conditions of a windowless gallery, sunlamps nourish these plants every night after the gallery has closed. They are switched off during the day to avoid altering the simple, blank space in which the artwork exists. This serene and minimalist installation works with form and space to acknowledge the benefits of greenery in our lives. Freed from visual clutter, Breathe invites the audience to contemplate our symbiotic relationship with plants and the essential role they fulfil in ensuring our continued existence.

Clockwise from upper left:

Mixing the resin for the vessels, Foundry February 8

First prototype for vessel, Parker House January 24

Vessels, in progress, Foundry February 8

Trial installation of vessels, Foundry April 12


Ideation sketches and cardboard models, Parker House December 7 Right:

Adding layers of fiberglass to the vessels, Foundry February 8


Adding layers of resin to the vessels, Foundry February 22 Right:

Trial installation of vessels in Foundry April 12

Maiden, Mother, Crone (detail) 2016

oil on board 24 x 18 in.

Natalie Newman painting

How can one claim that human consciousness is evolving and going in a transpersonal direction when the twentieth century has witnessed such distressing carnage? Let us also remember that the twentieth century has been the time of great liberation movements, recognition of racial and sexual discrimination, and awakening ecological awareness....Can enough individuals personally awaken to a reverence for life, and then, through their creative actions and interventions, redirect the tendency of society away from self-destruction? —Alex Grey, The Mission of Art

Between the Dawn and Dark of Night


believe in the potential of art and other transcendent experiences to inspire growth in the way we treat each other, and the way we treat the earth. By “transcendent experience,” I mean anything that induces heightened states of awareness, such as making art, meditation, dreams, ecstatic dance, shamanic ritual, entheogenic plants, making Love, and encountering Visionary Art of all mediums. Thus, my intention for my senior thesis is not only to depict these states and encourage others to explore them as well, but to illustrate and inspire the huge potential for growth that we humans, artists and art-observers alike, possess. I have noticed a correlation between this new movement of Visionary Art, spearheaded by painters like Alex and Allyson Grey, Amanda Sage, and Noa Knafo, and 20th Century surrealist painters, such as Dali, Ernst, and even Kahlo. Their Surrealist scenes, from Dali’s “Landscape with Butterflies” to Kahlo’s self-portraits, are hauntingly real, though stylized, and yet they depict landscapes and beings that cannot possibly exist on this plane of reality. They seek to find truth, to put value, in the imagination. Works like Ernst’s “Attirement of the Bride” achieve a characteristic eerie quality through biting social commentary. Where these Surrealists

use fantastical metaphor as a vehicle to expose the absurd, I wish to emulate the Visionary Artists, like Grey and Sage, by using vivid colors and fantastical figures to portray the possibility of transformation at a time when transformation on a global scale is utterly necessary. As a teenager, I undertook an art project exploring meditation in various aspects of life, from the religious to the mundane. I used oil and acrylic paints to depict people performing activities that can be “meditative.” Yet in that process, I realized that meditation can be found in almost all action. This is simultaneously the practice and the goal. Now, for my undergrad thesis, I want to develop a visual language in oil paints to express what meditative or visionary states feel like. I play with bright colors and organic shapes to create my own worlds— a sort of magical realism inspired by physical experience as much as imagination. When I include figures in my work, I aim to portray them in an empowering way, rather than objectifying. I paint bodies in poses that show strength and focus and transformation, with a bold use of light and color to bolster these qualities. Ultimately, I am learning to unite the creative process itself with my meditative practice, and my paintings are the result of that experience.


Studio wall, Parker House December 7 Left:

Group critique at Parker House February 22 Right:

Self Portrait (in progress) 2017

oil on board 20 x 16 in.


Final fall critique, Parker House December 7 Left:

Group critique, Parker House February 7 Right:

Panthertown Valley, NC 2016

oil on board 20 x 16 in.

Spring midterm group critique, Painting Studio March 15

Chau Nguyen painting

In Translation


paint messy. I paint when I am tired, agitated, relaxed, miserable, in despair. I paint utterly unprepared. The only things governing my brushstrokes, then, are fragments of my memory and the canvas before me. I paint to get out of myself. My identity consumes and voids itself. My desire to crawl out of my body led me on this journey, where colors become a life force; shapes, meaning; and the canvas, the world. I am my art and it is I: I want to be more; to paint over my private trauma, diluting the roots laden with hatred and pain in dreamy clouds and vast ocean. I let go. Images stream out, sometimes with the pounding of a waterfall, others dripping down the canvas in a mixture of oil, paint, and Turpenoid. The act of painting becomes fights, drugs, anesthesia. I only feel safe then, in a bond with the world as real as the magnitude of my canvases.

Words come out, too, cascading through the cracks of my mind. They hurt, like my mom’s occasional texts from another continent telling me to get enough sleep, my writings about visual arts only intelligible in my second language (but not my first), or my subliminal fear of splattering Vietnamese words onto my art. Tôi vẫn là người Việt. I-am-Viet-nam-ese. I pick up words again, like a child. I start stitching canvases, with mom’s threads—untouched and hastily packed in my luggage the first time I came to the United States—with a needle from Andrea, a professor whose presence gave me life during my last Scandinavia winter. I write in scrabbly Vietnamese letters the elegiacs of my memories—of displacement, love, loss, and the world. In my endless stitching of images and texts, I seek to reconcile my past and my present. It is painful, liberating, rough, and messy. It is a work in translation.

Far Left: Center section of In Translation (detail) 2017 oil on unstretched canvas


Diagrams in Parker House studio January 24 Below:

Final fall critique, Parker House December 7 Right:

Deep Ocean (detail) 2016 oil on unstretched canvas 90 x 25 in.

In Translation 2016-17 oil on unstretched canvas, bamboo 96 x 243 x 18 in.

My love for you is endless (in front) 2016-2017 paper lithography 7 x 5 in.

Connie Wen printmaking

Hello from the Past


rt is something that I have always loved from the bottom of my heart. It is a way for me to communicate stories and ideas; it is a way for me to keep myself awake during classes; it is a way for me to understand the world. But I have always thought that it would never be a way for me to make a living. Discouraged by the words of others, I have kept art as a hobby; I looked into other fields, hoping that I would find something I might love just as much. After facing several major hurdles, I’ve found myself back at the start. In the time it took for me to make art a more important part of my academic life, I had taught myself digital art and found a love for printmaking. These two skills are a core part of my journey in growing up, in learning more about myself, in learning more about the world. I combine

them to create visual representations of my life—my memories of the past, my feelings toward myself, and my feelings toward those who have guided me along this journey. Greeting cards are a good way to express emotion, making the message universal enough that even outsiders can understand what I am trying to convey. By drawing the designs digitally, then making them into physical prints through paper lithography, and finally turning the smaller ones into greeting cards, I combine all of my life experiences into a product that will help me face my future. To my past: Thank you. To my present: We’ve come a long way. To my future: Hello. To my visitors: Feel free to pick up a card.

Top left and top right:

Preparing paper and pulling a print in the Locker Building December 7 Middle left, and at right::

Spring midterm group critique, Parker House March 15 Below, left:

Final fall critique, Parker House December 7

They are all parts of you. You are still you. 2017 paper lithography dimensions variable

I hope you never lose the happiness from our childhoods. 2017 paper lithography dimensions variable

You can always find your way home. 2017 paper lithography dimensions variable

I won’t forget the things you’ve taught me until now. 2017 paper lithography dimensions variable

Thank you for the memories. 2016 paper lithography dimensions variable

Special thanks to the Office of the Provost, whose support made this exhibition and catalog possible. Thanks also to Department of Fine Arts faculty members Markus Baenziger, Hee Sook Kim, Ying Li and William Williams, and as well to copy editor Naomi Mindlin and Fine Arts Department Assistant Shannon Murphy.

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