The annual University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Exhibition presents the refined art portfolios of our new Class of 2021 cohort of BFA graduates and experts in creative problem solving, visual communication, teamwork and collaboration, and project management!

Requiring a number of studio and aesthetic courses in preparation for their careers as professional artists and/or for graduate study, the BFA program provides students the opportunity to specialize in areas such as ceramics, drawing, glass and neon, graphic design, papermaking, performance, photography, and more, harnessing and nurturing their creative energies to develop the critical and artistic skills needed to excel in contemporary multidisciplinary practices leading to influential and rewarding careers in art and design.

Jocelyn Chan

I create objects about sound and music. As a musician, with absolute pitch, the ability to recognize a pitch without an external reference, sound is an integral part of how I experience the world. Through my collection of glass work, I take the audience to examine the different sounds created by glass. Sounds can be dramatic when created with the transparency of glass. Each tone and pitch can be generated by either the thickness of glass, or the materials that hit the glass. Similarly, I visualize sound in the form of soundwaves, vibration, and modified music scores in my two-dimensional printmaking work. By experiencing sound in different ways, audiences develop a range of thoughts and reactions. I am most intrigued with evoking emotive, healing, personal, and political responses. I always have the feeling that audiences prioritize the sense of vision for appreciating and experiencing an artwork, which shows how little we make use of our other senses.

Noah Laroia-Nguyen

Noah Laroia-Nguyen is: an artist, scribbler, maker, child of immigrants and refugees, Indian, Vietnamese, Brown body, mixed person, curry creator, holder of many names, story teller, cook, bulk mooncake buyer, queer, neurodivergent, synesthete, nonbinary, ADHDer, former christian, future educator, current procrastinator, semitranslator, tea overdrinker, dyslexic, and perpetually in between the lines.

Brittany Waldinger

As an artist, I explore the idea of tension; whether it be tension in the environment or human emotions. I show these gestures and moments though drawings, sculpture, and glass.

My works regarding human nature focus beyond the physical form. They capture the tension of emotions and moments, while allowing time to sit and digest these bare snapshots and find hidden meanings in each piece. The pieces I create explore these moments through gesture, stripping away from the physical identity of facial expression and verbal communication.

Madison Eliza

The driving force behind my abstract serigraphy prints and sculpture-work is to emphasize the natural patterns found in our environment, through photography which has afterwards been put through multiple layers of distortion with multimedia techniques. Throughout the duration of my education, I saw new inspiration through each novel medium I learned, and a certain dissatisfaction in sticking with one and only one medium. Now, at the end of my undergraduate career, I have a bank of experience to draw upon, oftentimes incorporating many mediums into each piece I create. Utilizing photography, drawing, textiles, painting, and digital-software, my work examines the power of these combined processes to synthesize works that become heavily abstracted from their original, organic roots. Despite their disconnection with their place in the environment in which I find the initial patterns and iconography, I feel the end work has an undeniably organic and natural feel.

Margaret Cannon Walker

During a year of uncertainty I have found myself shifting inward. In isolation I spend my time reflecting and reminiscing about the connections in my life. Being physically distanced from my family reminds me how important the links between us are. These connections are my inspiration. I take what I discover from exploring my family’s archive with my own memories and express the stories through imagery. Each image is composed of separate pieces, just as my own family are individuals linked together. These images take form using ceramics and photography. I use traditional quilting techniques passed down through the women in my family. I sew my photographs together using the sewing machine my mother taught me on. Each square I sew combines images together that tell my family’s stories. My ceramic work attaches tiles together to create pixilated images from the family archive. The connection of individual tiles mimics the combination of small pieces of fabric in quilting. My process of making these personal images in isolation has been a way of dealing with the loss of connection during this time and is a way to reflect on the past, the present, and the future.

Juan Antonio Torres

Growing up half mexican and half irish, I often felt out of place within both cultures, and art was the way I found how to express myself. Whether it be detailed drawing or music production, any art form I can become engulfed in can become my world and my therapy. Printmaking took over my life once I arrived at the University of Wisconsin, and I fell in love with the different processes and intricacies available within the medium. I will often use heavily layered textures to balance out my meticulous linework, and I have found a new sense of freedom with printmaking that other artforms did not allow me to feel. The characters I develop can be brought to life in so many different ways through serigraphy and lithography, and I have new ways to express the emotions each one holds. I believe each of my characters takes on a life of their own, drawing from experiences of my life or thoughts I have never known how to express in words.

Paulina Eguino

I employ solid linework to express the boldness of my creatures in a visually striking, graphic style. Always originating as two dimensional illustrations, I utilize lines as building blocks in my designs. At times the designs remain in two dimensions and proceed as comics and prints, at others they transfer to three dimensions as glass neon tubes. The materials themselves advance my work thematically and conceptually as I explore themes of societal norms and gender roles which border on the edge of fragile and firm and is perfectly personified in the material of glass.

In both my illustrative and glass working processes, I enjoy working in physical layers. This layering of themes, materials, and visuals all operating together to fabricate one dynamic story or image.

Nicholas Christensen

My Work attempts to explore and dissect ideas surrounding mental illness, loss, and discomfort in predominately sculptural ways. In my work I seek to project onto the audience the feelings which the work reflects on, whether that be discomfort, disgust, or other often times unpleasurable emotions. My work seeks to do this in a coordinated, but humorous way, employing elements of the idea of humor throughout.

Hedi Ma

​I rebel against this struggling of living in a fast-paced world through my artwork. To achieve this, I mainly use traditional tools like watercolor and graphite. I evaluate the imperfection and the uniqueness brought by the traditional art material, which is like our lives. I take my own living experiences as the start point to sincerely record and reflect all the emotional moments in my mundane life. My works are the living statements of my life. I create to remind the myself to enjoy the little things in the life, because these ordinary moments can compose a moving artwork as well as a unique life. I focus on the visual storytelling in my artworks. I blend my creative recreation of the mundane life with the semi-realistic style to build the resonate with the viewers.

Melissa Paterson

I am fascinated by color. I create compositions which celebrate color as the subject matter. My paintings are small and consist of differing grids to activate the surface. The small scale of the paintings allows me to maintain a sense of control and order in painting each square of color. This lets me focus on the details that make each square unique, and create color relations which fluctuate across the surface of the painting. I highlight individual colors while also creating a sense of harmony within the overall color palette. The genesis of my interests surrounds answering the question, “how can I take an event and reduce it to an abstraction of color?” How can I evoke a sense of feeling and place while working with a grid system? Although I employ the use of a grid system, I am not interested in the grid itself so much as it has become a tool to methodically lay down areas of color.

Lexie Olson

I am interested in how characters in fiction are created in a way that mirrors life and how we use characters to discover hidden information about ourselves and others in our lives. The deliberate choices in how characters are constructed, especially in drawn forms like comics and cartoons, and how we use their appearance to learn about their roles in the narrative is something I capture in my works, which largely deal with the distinct and unique depictions of the individual. I like the ways in which comics and cartoons depart from real life and create exaggerated drama through movement and perspective. I pay attention to how characters’ color schemes, mannerisms, actions, clothing, accessories, and visage work together to give nuanced information about the character. As a whole, the way these themes manifest in my work provides a sense of familiarity and relatability. My characters are entirely fabricated; I enjoy the intimacy I feel with these characters that are often rather various personifications of traits I see in myself and others. Although the characters themselves and the environments they exist in are bizarre and fantastical, at their core they are grounded in reality. I want these works to be fun to engage with, and to reflect the vibrance I see in each individual person and our relationships with one another.

Kennedy McCarthy

With a concentration in ceramics, specifically wheel thrown pottery, I focus on producing functional objects intended to bring joy and happiness to the mundane everyday rituals of life. Everyone has their favorite mug to drink their morning coffee from or that one bowl for popcorn of on movie nights. It is my goal to create these unique objects that hold a special place in their owner’s lives.

As an artist, I have found a way to bring these same feelings of happiness and dependability to others through my ceramics. Simplicity is important in both my surfaces and forms. I want small moments such as the way the mug fits into your hand or that distinct way the glazes interact in a certain spot to be what makes each object stand out. While my work can stand on its own as objects, their true beauty and worth lies in their purpose and who uses them.

Meghan Draheim

In the absence of joy there is pain, in pain, there is empathy. Pain can be quiet. It can sneak up on you like a thief in the night. It can shake you awake, lead you downstairs by the palm of your hand. Take you out to the front yard. Watch your house burn down. But pain can let your neighbors come and watch. They bring you a blanket, leave all their porch lights on. Hold you tightly under a soft forgiving moon.

I have always been intrigued by the complexities of pain when making art. Drawn to something so universal yet so hidden. I tend to express themes of grief, heartbreak, trauma, and loss through recording what is happening or has happened in my life. As a result I often work across creative modalities, engaging with video, photography, painting, poetry, and printmaking, along with experimenting often in new fields. For me, the inspiration to create always comes in the form of lived emotion, an old memory, or recalled trauma; thus a multifaceted approach to making becomes that of a toolbox, in which I can pick and choose from in an attempt to mimic human existence, and the plight of it all.

When I create, I am speaking to those who need to see themselves in other’s shoes, and asking them to sit with the uncomfortable intensity that is pain, sympathize with it, come to understand it, maybe even let it in gently when it calls to them someday. I create for those who have already felt it, already known the sting of its touch; so that they may feel even a little understood, a little less alone.”

Carla Christenson

The work that I create lands me squarely between the worlds of craft and conceptual art. Invoking my knowledge as a glassworker, I let the medium inform my work as I explore the different ways I can use it within my practice. Through unsettling imagery and use of specific material I create installations that express the human experiences of pain and memory. Bodies, both human and material, are used in my work to communicate the rawness of breaking and fragmentation. Both abject and playful, my sculptures address what it means to exist in a state where to forget and fall apart are always going to be evident. Taking inspiration from my own personal experiences and childhood, I look to create sculptural and installation-based work that sparks deep thought about these topics within the viewer.

Emma Leeper

My work consistently straddles the boundaries between art and design. I employ color and illustration in my design work while translating typography and clean layout in my fine art pieces. Fluctuating between these two realms allows me to explore various mediums and tell stories in new ways that reach different aspects of my audience. Ranging from conceptual to commercial, from drawing in charcoal to designing typefaces with software, I want to tell stories and grab attention. Color is one of the gears that makes my art function with the depth that it has. Across all my mediums color allows me to create depth, emotion and reactions that help distinguish the message I want viewers to understand. While color plays a large role in my work, some of the other common themes I explore are portraiture (people), typography, and nature–often combinations of the four subjects in many different ways. There is an interesting way in which we communicate who we are through our environments and beliefs, and normally we use words to express that; to express the story of ourselves and what we know. On the other hand, while language is the basis of our communication, we can tell stories through visuals as well. Exploring the boundaries between these two types of storytelling and how my work can function within, in between, and outside of those boundaries is both intriguing and exciting.

Rachel Carboni

My art is a tool I use to puzzle through an intellectual assessment of the world around me. I am constantly wondering how our pattern-seeking, simian brains can attempt to reckon with the infinite stream of information flowing forth from the internet age. Algorithims have come to craft a distinct narrative of contemporary life–from flash ads about lonely singles in your area, to a new type of seltzer water, made just for you and your friends. I wonder how new digital paradigms shape our relationship to labor and identity. The act of making art provides me with a kinetic outlet to sort through my ideas, and results in an art object/visual aid which helps me explain myself to others. Without it, I’m afraid I’d sound like just another internet conspiracy theorist.

Bre’Annah Stampley

I am a glass artist that creates exercises in seeing. I ask viewers to see what normally gets overlooked by elevating and recontextualizing materials. I am fascinated with the mundane and build odd collections through a ritualized process of gathering that is both very meditative and playful. I aim to tell stories that restore material agency lost via negligence, inviting viewers to practice seeing. I am drawn to the immersive power of objects accumulated over time. I am interested in how memories are tied to the spaces we inhabit, the objects we own, and the people that surround us. In my studio practice I explore how objects, images, and language can function as an aide-mémoire.

Craig Jun Li

My practice centers materiality as the generative ground for narratives, proposals and discourses that are oriented away from identification-based ways of generating meaning and knowledge. I use curatorial strategies of symbolic and material citations to problematize referentiality introduced from various researches. Fragments of the historical and the personal are grouped into units of glitches that perform the illusion of coherence, mirroring a phenomenology that rests in a place of semiotic stickiness and co-construction. I center disorienting and unintelligible experiences to approach representation and opacity of marginalized existence in the world. I hope my work extends spaces of affectation, where shadows are cast in the non-semantic aspects of linguistic functions.

Chris Zak

My work explores the significance of our relationships with one another through portraiture. In this body of work I explore the joy, anxiety, and subtleties of how we interact face to face. I work with generally neutral expressions, as I find that there is a more engaging emotional landscape within the uncertain character. I feel as though my work requires me to operate precisely within the subjects identity, and fluidly through their trust in my interpretation. These expectations around the space in which I create dictates the different reactions when approaching my work. I utilize eye contact and engaging poses to support conversation between the viewer and the work. As well, my paintings serve as a time of examination for myself and my perception of the experiences I have had, as well as a guide for navigating them moving forward.