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PHANTASMAGORIA, UMA’S Senior Thesis Exhibition, Opens in Danforth Gallery

Phantasmagoria: 2020 UMA Senior Thesis Exhibition

Charles Danforth Gallery in UMA’s Jewett Hall

September 2 – October 2, 2020

Recently-graduated Art students at the University of Maine at Augusta who exhibited their works in an all-online Virtual Senior Thesis Exhibition in May are pleased to now exhibit their senior thesis projects on the Danforth Gallery’s walls. The five artists, Marcea Crawford, Shana Rowe Jackson, Evan Lord Martin, Jenn Messier, and Becky Pass spent months preparing their thesis projects, first in UMA’s studios, and then in their home studios as campus access was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recognition of the challenging times in which their exhibition has taken place virtually and in-person, they have titled their exhibition Phantasmagoria: a term the dictionary defines as “a sequence of real or imaginary images like those seen in a dream.” In its transition from virtual to actual space, UMA’s Senior Thesis Exhibition Phantasmagoria marks not only the accomplishment of the artists whose works it exhibits, but the strange passage between the real and dreamlike that has attended much of the COVID era.

Encompassing a wide variety of media, formats, and scales, the works included in this year’s exhibition are, as artist Becky Pass explains, “built on endurance.” Pass, whose mixed-media paintings on linen bath blankets convey her experiences of the daily struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD in her works, says the colorful blankets “represent the disorder and chaos [she] experienced, while shape and line bring balance to these compositions, restoring […] a semblance of order.”

Marcea Crawford’s five eight-foot large wheat-paste murals powerfully reflect Crawford’s experiences with domestic abuse and her survival. Jenn Messier’s works, exhibited in the Danforth Gallery on an over-scaled papier-mâché refrigerator door, frame “surrealistic domestic scenarios” wrought from the disconnect between the slick perfection of America’s consumerist fantasy and the more complicated and uncomfortable realities that transitions, from childhood to adulthood to parenthood, can bring.

Evan Lord Martin has a sensory processing disorder that can render the world “a fury of mental and somatic noise;” his video works seek “to articulate unrefined states of mind without using words in a traditional way.” Lastly, Shana Rowe Jackson’s series of realistically-rendered skies frame an idealized plane high and perfect above the challenges below. “Through creating, I have been able to move past the negativity in my life,” Jackson writes, “I create the world that I want to see.”

These works, forged from the artists’ individual experiences, artistic training, and many hundreds of hours of work in the studio, showed, in the spring, how this year’s graduates turned difficulty to art. Now viewable in person, Phantasmagoria transforms these artists’ visions from virtual to real.

Phantasmagoria: 2020 UMA Senior Thesis Exhibition is on view in the Danforth Gallery in UMA’s Jewett Hall from September 2 – October 2, 2020. The gallery is open, while requiring face coverings be worn and a physical distance of six feet between people be maintained at all times, from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Images provided:

Danforth Thesis Fall 2020 Photo 1 – Installation View: Jenn Messier, “Domestic Theater” 16 drawings framed by papier-mâché refrigerator

Danforth Thesis Fall 2020 Photo 2 – Artist Marcela Crawford with her wheat-pasted murals “The Storm,” “Peacock,” and “Dragon Lady,” installed on the exterior walls of UMA’s Jewett Hall.

Danforth Thesis Fall 2020 Photo 3 – Becky Pass, “Lament” – Mixed Media