A thesis is different from other art-making endeavors, where your personal transformation—through making and writing—is often private, with the end result sprung into the world fully formed. In the MFA Visual Narrative program, making a thesis requires vigorous collaboration with professors, with a mentor, and with fellow students. It requires an openness to critique and clarity of artistic vision. This year, the 2020 graduates of the MFA in Visual Narrative present work in an array of media, styles, and genres. What they have in common are themes that reflect the strength, confidence, and personal growth that were required to tell these powerful and authentic stories in a critical time in their lives and in the world.
Confidence may seem like a strange storytelling theme, but not only do all of these stories explore personal growth, but of them represent the growth of the artist. Whether we are following a young woman tracing the story of her great aunt through internment, a young girl who falls through the rabbit hole and learns the true power of her creativity, or an artist’s life revealed through her artifacts, each story offers a portrait of tenacity shared by the artists themselves. These thesis projects represent two years and eight months of grit and determination, false starts and triumphs. While their stories began before this particular moment of public health and political crises, each one offers a new vision of adversity, bringing inspiring, exciting, and emotional work into the world, filling a crucial need for sincere storytelling.
Anelisa Garfunkel & Christina Roussos