One of highlights of our Bisignano Art Gallery schedule is the exhibit by our senior DART majors. The excitement is palpable. Animations, videos, photography, posters, books - you name it. This show indicates the end of our students' growth here at UD and it is an awesome experience. Their graduation day is around the corner, typically, and today often seems like a wave crashing upon the shore. Typically, that is. But this year, because of Covid-19, even our exhibition has changed. Different, but we've found a way. Thanks to the students and especially Professor Sheila Sabers for suggesting this alternative to our traditional physical show. (Creatives are just that way, I have found.) Same great art minus an opening with coffee and cookies. Oh well. Congratulations, graduates. Be safe. Be well. - Alan Garfield, Director of the Bisignano Art Gallery.
CONGRATS SENIORS! We are so proud of you and all your accomplishments. Your Senior Thesis Art Show is wonderful, and we did it despite this pandemic. YEAH! It may not be how we wanted to finish your last spring semester at UD but true to the class of 2020, you rose to the challenge. It is an honor to teach the Senior Seminar class, I get the privilege of seeing your creative artwork through all of its challenges and setbacks that goes into the design process to the reward of seeing the amazing finished project – I love the journey. Thank you, Alan Garfield, in building this gallery website and to the students, thanks for the critique sessions, creation of award-winning projects, our talks in my office and later over the phone, and the shared laughter. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life. Stay in Touch! - Sheila Sabers, DART Professor.
I have been wanting to make a video at the mosque for a while now and that is what I ended up deciding to do for my senior thesis. I had so many choices for my senior thesis, but I thought this video might be helpful for others while showing my video editing skills at the same time. My video is about a Friday at the mosque where we gather and pray, and I also wanted to show the way we all pray together step by step at the mosque. Unfortunately, the video did not end up the way I wanted it because of COVID-19. I wanted to be at the mosque every Friday for three weeks to shoot the videos and then edit them, but the mosque closed because of COVID-19 after the first time I was there for the video. I was disappointed at first, but then I thought of it more as a challenge to finish the video with what I had gotten on that first Friday. I had no other choice, but I was lucky that I had recorded a few good videos.
The reason I decided to make this video was to inform people about Islam and to show people who haven’t been to a mosque what the mosque looks like from inside. A lot of people do not know that we Muslims have to do Wudu before every prayer, so I decided to add the steps for making a complete Wudu with a voice over.
I accepted the challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic and I created the video. I learned that I as a Designer have to be ready for any changes and be more creative when it calls. This challenge has given me an example of what kind of hardships I might face in my future. I also learned that we can still finish out a project even if we have minimal video clips or limited equipment.
Yet, I could not do anything by myself, so I am very grateful for so many people. I would like to thank God first for everything. Then I would thank my parents, Ahmed and Joharah for sending me here and trusting me and believing in me by the age of 19. I also would like to thank everyone I have met since I landed in the United States. Thank you, Alan and Phyllis Garfield, so much for being parents before being advisors. You never made me feel in need while you are around. Thank you, Sheila Sabers, for being a great professor. You have taught me a lot and you have given me the big picture of what my future career would look like and made me ready for it. Thank you, James Cullen, for spending extra time out of the class to help me with my 3D projects. Thank you, Jean Holdener, for your honest thoughts that made me want to be better. You made me a hard worker. Thank you, Isaiah Overton, for your tips and helpful feedback. I will always appreciate what you have done for me. I also would like to thank Kendra for being my other half and helping me to always move forward. Thank you, UD, for leaving a phenomenal memory in my head. Finally, I would thank God again for everything.
Albaha, Saudi Arabia
When I was just a freshman in college and I found out that we had to make a big senior thesis project, I already had my heart set on my concept. About 5 years ago I came up with the idea of Avrial and Annora; two characters in their late teens who at a young age were granted the ability to make weapons of light. It’s amazing having your own characters. As someone who is a fan of many franchises, this was something of my own where I could make the story. As a kid, I would always fantasize about being pulled into another universe, getting superpowers, or becoming a secret agent. This world is too simple and boring for this to just be it, right? I love stories. As I grow older, I realize that Annora’s life is a metaphor of who I am, who I was, and who I could be. It’s a story about accepting the help from those around you, and maybe realizing that having to do things yourself isn’t always cool.
I have always wanted to illustrate a story of my own creation, whether that be animation, a graphic novel, or just to simply draw more in general. I thought about making their story into a book, but I realized, it doesn’t have an ending. 5 years later it still doesn’t. What it does have, is a beginning.
Avrial is sent to the lightborn camp by his godfather to “get on Annora’s good side”, without knowing the trust issues she’s developed and her troubled past. During his time there, he begins to respect Annora’s leadership more than anyone else, and slowly falls for her as he begins to care about her wellbeing. Annora learns that the world isn’t against her, and it is only when Avrial turns against his godfather’s plans will he learn the truth about how his parents passed. Everyone sees Annora as invincible, yet her powers are unstable, and her lifestyle isn’t healthy. I decided to make Avrial and Annora’s story my senior thesis because they are something, I’m passionate about, and I finally had the opportunity to show my creation to the world.
I’d like to give a special thank you to my fellow DART students, who always made class more fun (with a shout out to Isaiah for helping me with late night critiques. Pixar will be quaking!!) as well as my coaches for putting up with my stress as well as always giving me graphic design work study assignments to make sure I’m always practicing, even off the track. I’d like to thank my roommates Savannah Jennings and Nikki Fehns for always being willing to hold a crying art student in their arms. Thank you to Maggie “Swag” Christianson for always being an extra set of eyes. I’d like to thank Jenna Heimark for being my first college friend and someone who will listen to me ramble about my projects even if she doesn’t always understand them. I’d like to thank my mom for giving me her art genes and my dad for constantly asking me if I free hand everything I draw. Finally, I’d like to thank Mariana Falletti for going on this journey with me since day one. She knows these characters almost well as I do, and I know, if given the opportunity, she’d take down Avrial just for the chance to be with Annora. Thank you for 7 years. And thank you, Dubuque, for helping me find myself. Goodnight, gamers!
For my whole life I’ve always been a third of a whole. Being a triplet was part of my identity. My sisters were my best friends and I spent very little time without them. When I went off to college it was my first time being my own individual. It was scary to tackle a new world without them. Our schedules were no longer the same and we weren’t experiencing the same things. It made me nervous, but it also made me excited. I was able to make a name for myself that didn’t include them in my identity.
As my time at college comes to a close, I’ve realized the importance that my sisters have had on my life. Being away from them has given me time to reflect on who they are as individuals and how they helped shape me. Being away from Kyra, we couldn’t fight as much and because of this I realized that we fought because we were so similar. My mom used to say we were like oil and water, but I think were actually more similar. We’re both stubborn and extremely set in our ways. When our opinions don’t match, it’s an all-out war. However, when we’re on the same team we’re a force to be reckoned with. I’ve watched Kyra grow in her confidence and self-identity. She inspires me to remain true to myself and wear your heart on your sleeve. Or in her case, wear your heart as electric green and orange hair.
Kyra didn’t go to college right away, so for the first year Amery was the only other one experiencing her first year in college. She became one of the best people to talk to. She’s a great listener and helps you put things in perspective. She’s also quick to call you out if you’re not doing the right thing. She’s a moral compass, keeping you on track with the best course. Amery has also grown into herself these last couple years. My wish for her is she would listen to her own advice and know her own worth. She’s one of the funniest and most caring persons I know, and she should let others know it.
This project would not be possible without my mom, Abby Lea Feyh Bruce. Having triplets is no joke and to do it with such grace is amazing. We’re pretty awesome humans and we owe it all to her. I’d also like to thank my DART professors, Sheila, Alan, and Jean, for helping me find my way in the DART world. If I had more time, I would have made a portrait for my best friend Chrissy Holmes. She became my surrogate sister that first year and has been putting up with me ever since. I also want to thank all my friends that I’ve made in the DART program and in other activities. You guys have made college really something to remember.
My college experience has been very unconventional. I thought I would follow the typical student-athlete path and all that goes with it. When that changed, I had to reorient my thinking. Forging a new path is not easy. My interest, outside of sports, was photography. There is no specific “Photography” major at my university. Fortunately, through an unlikely series of events, I was able to pursue my interest and education and, in the process, learn who I am and what I am most passionate about. I have learned a lot about “who I am” through travel, having had the opportunity to meet new people and explore different cultures. If you had asked me to write this statement four years ago, I guarantee you it would have been very different.
During my time at the University of Dubuque, I have been able to focus, with precision, on my passion – photography. I still love sports and other activities, but when it comes to photography, intuitively, I know I am supposed to explore, grow and learn. To me, that helps to define it as a passion. There is an old saying, which works well in Iowa, “Grow where you are planted.” My skills in photography and reflecting upon photography have certainly grown and changed over the past four years. I attribute this to the solid “planting” I’ve experienced during my unconventional college experience.
The difference between where I’ve been and where I’ve visited is vast. This show is about both. I have been fortunate to visit many of the capitals and cultural sites of Western Europe while studying at the University. Through cultural experiences, I have observed life and history in a way that books just can’t approach. That is where my photography comes in.
When I land in a new country, the first thing I do to get my bearings is look at a map. I’m sure that is a foreign concept to many in my generation. After all, who needs a map when you have a Maps App? I like to see the lay of the land, not one bit at a time. I know how to read maps and I enjoy watching them come to life as I walk the streets. After consulting with my academic advisor and professor, I decided to use vintage maps and, after removing some of their practical functions, make “art” in their place using color, line, composition and design with photographs of those cities. That is what this show is – less documentary and more creative imagery. If you know Florence or Paris, then these maps ring true. It is my hope, though, that they are interesting on a higher plane. That is my intent.
The funny thing is, as I mentioned earlier, the University of Dubuque does not have a photography major. And yet, because of their willingness to “think outside the box” my professors worked with me and helped me craft my program, so I have been able to “graft” the study of photography on to the study of Digital Art and Design. I’m sure this would not have been possible at a larger university. I have thought about the people I want to thank and why. Words seem so inadequate. To all my professors, you have instilled in me a love of learning. Specifically, to Professors Jim Cullen and Jean Holdener, thank you for demonstrating your passion for animation and art. Professor Sheila Sabers set deadlines and established deliverables for this Senior Thesis class and show. Without her sense of organization, the class would never be at this point in our academic careers. My mentor at UD has been Professor Alan Garfield since my first day in his Art History class. His knowledge of art, culture, languages and people has helped shape my work. He has treated me like a Renaissance apprentice, and I have learned so much about the world and myself through his eyes.
Finally, I cannot begin to express my respect and gratitude to my family. Dad, you have always wanted me to be myself, to be happy and find my own direction. I’ve listened to your counsel and, hopefully, gained your respect these last four years. Mom, thank you for believing in me even when I was trying to find my path. This support from both of you has been priceless.
My senior thesis was inspired by my experiences with travel. I began my journey exploring the world when I was just a sophomore in high school, and after my first trip abroad, I found such a deep love for it. I went on to travel to three different countries, UK, Ireland, and Scotland, before my graduation. Then coming to UD I knew that I wanted to get my wings ready to fly again and travel once more, and before I knew it, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France and Italy. For each individual country that I visited in my life, I illustrated a different setting or viewpoint, with each one representing my feelings and thoughts, throughout my time at that specific country. Each individual country had an impact to my life, and I did my best to convey those feelings with the art style, themes, coloration, etc. With each image they are all intended to stand out on their own, while still being able to work well visually when grouped next to the rest of the illustrations.
Starting out with this project, I knew I wanted it to revolve around illustration. Reflecting back on my first illustrator class, I saw my talents with it grow and I wanted to create something new that would challenge my visual communication skills and show off all that I’ve learned in the DART program. I found myself making more sketches and concept art of how I wanted the visuals to come across, and I think that it really shows as I look back on all of the progress that I’ve made. There were a lot of changes that were made in the process, most critiques making a beneficial change to the overall mood and style each illustration had. This was a substantial learning curve that I needed to focus more of my time on, trying to better understand how illustrations could come across to someone else that hasn’t shared my own experiences. There were so many positive changes to the designs that truly helped me get a better sense of direction into how others might see art. In the process it felt like a constantly changing puzzle that needed to constantly be put back together. Though I’m glad with how my thesis turned out, and I know there were a lot of people that helped me through this creative journey.
Knowing how far I’ve come in life, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today, without the love and support of my friends, family, and professors. The first person I owe the biggest thank you to, is my mom. Thank you for believing in me and helping give me the opportunity to pursue my love of design here at UD. I would also like to take a moment to thank one of my closest friends, Baylea. Thank you for being everything a great friend should be. There are so many things that I’m grateful for since you’ve come into my life and I don’t know where I would be without you. I would also like to give a warm thank you to Alan Garfield. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to travel during my semesters here, and for being the best tour guide I’ve ever had on a trip. Lastly, I would like to give the biggest thank you to the person that I couldn’t have made it here without, Sheila Sabers. Thank you so much for being someone that I feel I can come and talk to, and for being the reason why I love the world of graphic design. You’ve always been someone that I’ve always looked up to for guidance and support, and I know that I could never repay you for all that you’ve done for me.
The first few ideas that came to mind for my senior thesis was all centered around the game industry. I first thought to try and make the branding for a made-up game, website, logo, concept art, etc. but after talking with Professor Sheila Sabers I decided to go all in and try and make the game itself, or at least the first level. Ever since I was in middle school, I have wanted to be part of the game industry, throughout the years I have played around with making games. I never got the games past the planning state, I thought this would be the perfect time to create a game made by myself. This would give me the motivation to keep on it and to preserver when I hit a wall. I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite games Payday the Heist, a heisting game and the works of art I love, with the combination of the two I thought I would have a good game idea. My passion for video games and for art works was the main reason I picked this idea, being able to see a bunch of the art works I featured, in the game, in real life helped me understand why I wanted to feature them and wanted the world to know of them and to appreciate them like I did.
With the Idea I got inspiration from a level I made for Game Level Design; this level was a stealth level where you needed to avoid all the Non-Player Characters. Which in my game you need to avoid them as well and needing to sneak around some that are sleeping. With this in mind I was off to the races, I used what I have learned though my design classes to make sure everything was styled similar and was distinct. I used my skills of coding that I self-taught to help me undergo this project, but I know I have learned as much as I knew going into this project, with this under my belt I believe I can keep going and finish this game and spread my love of art to a wider audience. This project had some hard times for me, but I was able to get through them because I knew that what I was doing was what I wanted to be doing.
I have a lot of people to thank for helping me through the years, first is Professor Alan Garfield for first not giving up on me, even though I wasn’t always the best student, but also for the amazing trips that I have been able to go on and the artworks that I have seen because of all of his planning. Also, his Art history classes for showing me something I love, artworks, and his web design classes that helped me rediscover my love in web creation. The next person I need to thank is Professor Sheila Sabers, she also never gave up on me when I wasn’t a good student, she also taught me a lot through the short years of me being in the program. She helped me work on my designs and helped me get better, if you were to have asked me in high school if I would be getting a degree in design, I wouldn’t have believed you. Professor James Cullen for helping me through 3D animation and Game level design, two classes that helped me improve for the career that I want. Professor Jean Holdener, she showed me the importance of drawing and how to improve, I never really like drawing since I wasn’t good at it, but I now know that I need it and have been improving.
I need to also thank my family, my Father, William Stevens, for working at UD after he retired so I could go to UD without him I wouldn’t have been able to. My Mother, Mary Stevens for always being on my case about school, which has been keeping me in line. My Brother, Johnathon Stevens, for getting me interested in coding at a young age as well as video games. My two sisters, Melissa and Bethany Stevens, for always being there to support me. Lastly the friends I have made at UD I think all of you are truly the reason I’m graduating. My friends have kept me going to classes and to keep improving. Thank every last one of you.
Web Design & Development Minor
What inspired me to create my senior thesis is my love for flowers and nature, and my appreciation for the people in my life. I have many sketchbooks filled with drawings and paintings of flowers and plants. Often when my mom would go on trips, she takes pictures of things my family would like. For me, my mom would always show me beautiful photos of flowers. Loving flowers is something many people have in common because they offer a way to express how you are feeling without using words. I also like that there are so many meanings behind each flower, there’s a lot of already established symbolism behind flowers, and because I have such a vast love for them, I wanted to give them their own symbolism according to me.
I decided to illustrate the flowers instead of taking photos of real ones, because although I choose real flowers for each person, I got to create them in the way I saw them and with my own style. I found the best photos of each person and would look at it and think of them as I worked. I tried to think of what they would like when creating the illustration as well as using colors I thought they would like. I organized the flowers the way I did to create an ascetically pleasing composition that would be relaxing on the eye when you looked at it. I wanted to use colors that were bright and joyful but not overwhelming.
Without the many influential and supportive people in my life I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project. My mom started my love for flowers by showing me the beauty they hold. My dad has always pushed me to be my best in school. My sister who has always inspired me to continue to create art. My brother who encouraged me to keep moving forward with my passion. My brother-in-law who has always taught me that working hard would pay off. My boyfriend Nate, and my friend Anna, have been very encouraging and helped me stay positive. My niece Alice helps me remember the creativity that I was born with as I watch her express her own creativity. My nanny family, who in the most fun way possible, tested my patience and has kept me laughing. My grandparents, who have shown me unconditional love. All of the people who I created a flower for had a role in my project and I when I put them all together, I realized what a beautiful bouquet it would make.
I would also like to thank my professors who pushed me outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to be creative and develop my own style of design. My professor Alan Garfield provided me the opportunity to travel and see some of the most famous art and history of human creativity. My professor and adviser, Sheila Sabers gave me guidance and direction. Professor Jean Holdener who always would take the time outside of class to help me better understand what I was learning. And my professor Jim Cullen, who always would explain things very clearly until it made sense for my unique learning style. I would also like to thank my classmates who always gave me good feedback and inspiration. I wouldn't have been able to make it through school without these people.