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ARTS 5404: The BA Capstone

April 13, 2021

ARTS 5404, the BA Capstone and Exhibition, is the culminating course for BA art majors. BA Capstone and Exhibition wraps up a student's journey at the University of Minnesota by giving them the skills they need to effectively present their work and by celebrating their artistic achievements. Students develop effective studio practices, write about their work, create works for exhibition, and collaborate together to produce a group exhibition (Without|Within opening April 20).

Teaching Assistant Caitlin Skaalrud checked in with Corra Thompson, a student in Emmett Ramstad's ARTS 5404 class this semester, to ask about the work she has in the exhibition and what she's learned along the way. 

What about the BA Capstone course has been meaningful or unexpected?

I think the best part of the BA Capstone class for me was the opportunity to see and critique my classmates’ work, and receive critique on my own projects from them. What made this class a bit different from normal studio art critiques was the opportunity to see my classmates’ works and ideas evolve over the course of the semester, as we did multiple in-progress critiques as well as final ones. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and get so many eyes on each other’s work, and I know my projects benefited greatly from it, and it led me to consider new ideas about my own work that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I find it really inspiring to see how other artists work, and I think the consistent exposure to the critique environment will be the part I’ll miss most after graduation.

Can you describe the inspiration and process for your piece in the BA exhibit (featured above)?

For this exhibition I chose to explore the intersections between nature, mental health, and the human connection to the natural world. Life cycles are a big inspiration for my work, specifically how the cycles of nature can represent and even mimic the cycles of human emotion. All my works in this exhibition are inspired by certain emotions of mine, and the process of making them is much like the process of journaling. I like to call attention to some of the more overlooked creatures in nature, and invite the viewer to explore their inner lives. 

I also experimented with the idea of pairing a zine with my illustrations to see how I could make them work together. The process of creating the zine was quite experimental and involved exploring how my practice could overlap into different mediums and formats, and how I could start incorporating my love for writing, books, and stories into my art practice. I feel like the work I did for this exhibition is only the tip of the iceberg for all the new ideas, concepts, and processes I plan to explore in the future.

What is your relationship to artmaking now? Has it evolved over the past year?

The processes in my art practice change frequently as I explore new ideas, but I would say that my relationship to artmaking has remained fairly similar over the past few years. For me, artmaking is a therapeutic process, where I can explore my thoughts and emotions on paper without the constraints of words. The process is calming, a meditation almost, and a way for me to safely explore ideas about myself and my world. It is oftentimes an incredibly nostalgic experience as well, as I frequently hark back to my childhood favorite animals, my experiences growing up near the woods, and the natural world outside my door, such as the plant species I see on my walks and the nondescript birds and moths I find in the bushes and leaves.

What does receiving your BA mean for you? What was your journey to get here?

Receiving my BA means staying true to the dreams I had as a child. I’ve always told everyone that I wanted to be an artist, even when I was very young, and graduating with a degree in art feels like an achievement twenty-one years in the making. In a way I’m doing this for the part of me where my child self still lives, to show her that I can achieve and do anything I can dream of, even in the face of so much doubt and uncertainty over pursuing an art degree and artistic career path. But even so, I see my journey still at its beginning, and I look forward to using my degree to help create a success story for myself. I like to imagine how proud my child self would be if I was able to go back in time and tell her about everything I’ve achieved.

See more of Corra's work on Instagram @corrathompson

Considering an Art degree? Check out our degree pages for more information about the Art Minor, the Art BA, and the Art BFA