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Sneak peek at the spring 2023 UA BFA Capstone Thesis Show

The+2023+University+of+Arizona+Capstone+Thesis+Show+will+display+many+different+types+of+art+from+the+graduating+School+of+Art+seniors.+Above+are+Gracie+Rhynes+oil+paintings%2C+Trash+Paintings.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Gracie+Rhyne%29

The 2023 University of Arizona Capstone Thesis Show will display many different types of art from the graduating School of Art seniors. Above are Gracie Rhyne’s oil paintings, “Trash Paintings.” (Photo courtesy of Gracie Rhyne)

On May 11 at 5 p.m. in the School of Art lobby, the upcoming School of Art graduates will be displaying the projects they completed during ART 498, Senior Capstone. Everyone is welcome to stop by the reception, grab some food and enjoy the art!

The art comes in various shapes and forms, including, but not limited to, painting, 3D modeling, animation, graphic design etc.

Simon Hinchliffe, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, first introduced this recurring semester exhibition in 2019. In previous years, because of COVID-19, the show was moved online. However, this year the thesis show will be available both in-person and online, making it highly accessible to busy students.

“Students get to do a semester-long thesis project, something that they’re interested in, something that would lead to a career,” Hinchliffe said. “The capstone class is very different to the other classes because the students set their own milestones. In terms of actual thesis projects, it is pretty broad, whatever they’re interested in doing as long as it shows depth and breadth. It’s got to be something problem-solving or show [some] substantial sort of process and research. It’s a 15-week project, so you have to show what the development was.”

Hinchliffe explained his role in the entire process and how he guides the students.

“I still run my own design business. I work on professional projects, so I give the students a real-world perspective because they are getting into a very competitive area,” Hinchliffe said. “The level this semester is very high. You always have some really talented students. It’s different every semester, but I would say this semester is [a] pretty good standard.”

Gracie Rhyne is a senior studying studio art with an emphasis in illustration. Rhyne has past experience in nonprofit administration and arranging exhibits. She will be organizing the show this spring. However, she will also be presenting her own work, which is a series of oil paintings she endearingly refers to as her “Trash Paintings.”

Rhyne’s capstone project offered a unique critique of consumption. Gaining inspiration for her project from a trashcan she witnessed on campus last year, with Starbucks cups spilling from its sides.

Gracie Rhyne gained the inspiration for her capstone oil paintings, "Trash Paintings," from a real trash can she saw on campus. The painting is a message about consumerism and single-use plastic. (Photo courtesy of Gracie Rhyne.) 
Gracie Rhyne gained the inspiration for her capstone oil paintings, “Trash Paintings,” from a real trash can she saw on campus. The painting is a message about consumerism and single-use plastic. (Photo courtesy of Gracie Rhyne.)

“Like a lens looking at society. In this culture, which is really throwing away single-use plastic. Just kind of considering the trash that you walk by. I do it all the time. I walk by it and don’t deal with it. So, it’s kind of thinking about how we can create a community of caretaking for the Earth beyond just pretending we do,” Rhyne said.

Rhyne also shared some of the benefits of being granted so much freedom with their project.

“We were told this is supposed to be your biggest and best piece you have done in your four-year experience, and I think people have taken it pretty seriously. There are some really cool ones, like one of my friends [Echo Rigg] is doing a doll line, and they are creating a physical doll with a more inclusive body type,” Rhyne said.

Alan Castillo, a senior studying studio art with an emphasis in graphic design, used his capstone project as an opportunity to explore the world of marketing. His project involved designing the packaging for a hard seltzer, gaining inspiration from the unique designs of craft beers.

Alan Castillo prioritized making his capstone hard seltzer packaging vibrant and interactive. The project allowed him to explore the realm of marketing. (Photo courtesy of Alan Castillo.)
Alan Castillo prioritized making his capstone hard seltzer packaging vibrant and interactive. The project allowed him to explore the realm of marketing. (Photo courtesy of Alan Castillo.)

“It is titled ‘Gone,’ and it’s a space-themed, fruit-infused concept,” Castillo said. “I have a lot of fun doing product packaging. Another aspect of my project was incorporating interactive media, like a QR code element.”

For Castillo, the amount of time spent on his capstone has proven hard to measure, estimating he has spent approximately 30 hours on his project. The work itself brings up an array of emotions for him, noting how the imagined timeline one sets for their project can prove to be unrealistic.

“Anxiety. Stress. It was kind of stressful making sure that this is something I can put in my portfolio and hopefully get a job from. I think that’s why this project, in particular, has been a little more stressful than the usual ones, but I also had fun doing it. Trying new things was a lot of fun,” Castillo said.

Castillo is excited to show his work to the public and is hopeful this show will open up some opportunities for him in the future.

Madison Evans is a senior studying studio art with an emphasis in illustration design. For Evans, her capstone involved creating a brand for a hotel. This involved thinking of elements such as the branding, hotel restaurant design and menu, all the way down to the small details such as toiletries.

“It is located in Palm Springs, California. I wanted to hone into the mid-century modern aspects of that, with the bright colors and resort vibes,” Evans said.

Madison Evans' "Hotel Gambel" was inspired by Arizona's native Gambel's quail. She hopes to apply the skills she learned in her capstone project to create more hotel identities in the future. (Photo courtesy of Madison Evans.)
Madison Evans’ “Hotel Gambel” was inspired by Arizona’s native Gambel’s quail. She hopes to apply the skills she learned in her capstone project to create more hotel identities in the future. (Photo courtesy of Madison Evans.)

Evans is hoping to venture into creating “identities” for businesses once she graduates. For Evans, her capstone began with doing her research on the aesthetics found in Palm Springs, leading to important decisions like her hotel’s name, “Hotel Gambel.”

“The Gambel’s Quail is named after this naturalist; his name is [William] Gambel. The quail is native to Arizona deserts, so that’s how [I] incorporated the logo and brand name into designing the hotel,” Evans said.

Evans went on to describe some of the advantages associated with the capstone process.

“It is completely free; you can literally do whatever you want. Whatever you think would help you in the future. It’s a good portfolio piece, and it is a time where you can really hone in and work on something you are passionate about,” Evans said.

Kate Louis, a senior studying studio art with an emphasis in illustration and design, created her own magazine and plans to print physical copies to share. Louis hopes her portfolio will help her find a career in design.

“It is a culture magazine about local Tucson places and people. Exploring different aesthetics and making it look like ‘Fanzine,’” Louis said.

Inspired by "Fanzine," Kate Louis created a fun magazine inspired by Tucson. Above is a page from her capstone magazine project. (Photo courtesy of Kate Louis.)
Inspired by “Fanzine,” Kate Louis created a fun magazine inspired by Tucson. Above is a page from her capstone magazine project. (Photo courtesy of Kate Louis.)

The process for Louis was all-consuming. Her project involves reutilizing and reworking past projects to enhance her capstone. Louis credits her friend, Bree Brettell, with the writing in her magazine as well as with helping her brainstorm.

“I was really excited about it. It’s a lot of stuff I have been wanting to do. Just having fun with it, especially with my friend. But also stressed. Is it good enough? Like every artist,” Louis said. “People underestimate how much of a skill art is because everyone can do art,” Louis said.

Shiloh Cosby is a senior studying studio art with an emphasis in illustration and design. They created a fantasy adventure story. Cosby contemplated the numerous possibilities their degree could take them in, some of which were freelance art or comics. For Cosby, the important part is getting their art out into the world to be enjoyed. They admit this specific area of art is more of a “passion” for them, and career-wise, they wish to venture into other areas of art.

“I decided to do a series of full-body drawings of original characters that I created for a webcomic idea that I had. I’ve been conceptualizing this world. I made a whole map for it and everything. It’s been years in the making. This was the perfect opportunity for me to properly get references out for the characters and really figure out who they were,” Cosby said.

Their detailed characters reflect the long hours spent on each character. Cosby explains they took up to 10 hours on each of the five characters. Their creative vision for their capstone stems from their experiences playing “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Dragon Age” and browsing Pinterest for costume ideas. The characters’ positioning involved Cosby using themselves as a model to make their characters as realistic as possible, emphasizing the importance of knowing a character’s personality, which influences everything from the character’s poses to their expressions.

Shiloh Cosby takes a personal approach when drawing their fantasy-themed characters, taking the time to understand each of their unique personality and traits. Pictured is Florica Struuna, a vindictive lover. (Photo courtesy of Shiloh Cosby.)
Shiloh Cosby takes a personal approach when drawing their fantasy-themed characters, taking the time to understand each of their unique personality and traits. Pictured is Florica Struuna, a vindictive lover. (Photo courtesy of Shiloh Cosby.)

“I love character design, and I love writing about characters specifically. There are five main characters in this story, which is a pretty hefty cast. You really want to make sure to differentiate them all; that can be harder to do in art where there is no dialogue,” Cosby said.

The 2023 UA Capstone Thesis Show this spring will encapsulate not only a wide range of artistic styles and mediums but represent the work and skills the seniors have gained in their time spent at the UA. If you are looking for something to do with your friends and families, make sure to stop by the show May 11 at 5 p.m. in the School of Art lobby or explore the projects virtually!


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