Artists try their wings in senior exhibitions

7 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle Fine Art Program recently held two solo exhibitions developed through the 2016-17 Fine Art Senior Thesis Exhibition course.

The Senior Thesis Exhibition, a six credit, year-long course, is a capstone to the BFA program. The rigorous course of study is unique to most statewide BFA programs. The Senior Show allows enrolled students to have an experience similar to a graduate school environment. Students are required to prepare a body of work for the solo exhibition and defend it orally and in writing in order to graduate.

The students featured this year were Monica Quist and Mollie Hicks.

Mollie Hicks’ exhibition opened on April 27 and ran through May 3; a reception was held on April 28. In her show, she questioned sexism in contemporary culture and media by directly relating the issue to sexist themes in paintings created in cultures that might be considered “outdated.” Her work reimagined paintings that are famous, but not necessarily controversial, by replacing the women in those paintings with her self-portrait. She hoped to uncover themes that should be controversial and show the importance of understanding sexist messages in media and their effect on female identity.   

“I wanted to showcase that the casual spread of sexism through any type of platform affects all women, and thus, me personally,” Hicks said. “I rendered my self-portraits in charcoal and the background remains paint to create a disjointed feeling between the black and white figures and the renaissance style oil paintings. This makes the point that, while these figures are obviously playing a role inside these environments, they never truly feel like they belong.”

Monica Quist, a native of Limestone, opened her thesis exhibition on May 4 and held a gallery talk on May 5 during the First Friday Art Walk. The exhibition ran through May 13. Her work focused on how humans connect individually and with each other, while questioning human relationships with technology, and the importance of creating balance between what is virtual and tangible. She reflected on the four main aspects of natural connection: eye contact, physical touch, listening, and playing.

“To start the conversation, I create figural images on handmade wooden panels. On some of the pieces, I include string or gel transfers to symbolize the connections that are generally invisible or not thought of in our day-to-day lives,” Quist said. “Our perspective changes when we make ourselves aware of the way we look at our surroundings. Many of my pieces, when looked at from afar, represent the picture as a whole, whereas when looked at from an arm’s length, they resemble something more abstract and technological.”

BFA students were responsible for all aspects of their exhibition, from making the frames and labels for their pieces, to advertising and promoting their shows and arranging the receptions. Each developed their final artist’s statement and also prepared a gallery talk. As a final component, the artists completed a final research paper about their work, influences and aesthetic decisions.

For additional information, contact Hyrum Benson, UMPI Assistant Professor of Fine Art, at (207) 768-9441 or Please follow the UMPI Art Department on Facebook at and Instagram: @umpiart.