The Department of Art Congratulates Spring 2022 Honoree Emma Zimmerman for College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (CLAS)
The Spring 2022 MSU Denver Department of Art BFA Thesis Exhibition showcases the critical research and responsive work of 25 inventive artists and designers as they conclude their undergraduate studies. The exhibition is the pinnacle of students’ education within the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design programs.
BFA Thesis Exhibitions showcase the culminating work of the graduating artists and designers. The artwork addresses a wide range of subjects from personal explorations to global concerns, through a variety of media including printmaking, communication design, animation, painting, photography, and sculpture.
Exhibitions by Bachelor of Fine Art Students in
Studio Art and Communication Design
Student Work from Spring 2022, Fall 2021, Spring 2021, and Fall 2020
The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences hosts the CLAS Graduate Honoree Reception every semester for students who have been selected by their departments for this distinction. In the Department of Art, faculty and staff have the opportunity to nominate a graduating student whose exceptional academic achievements, leadership qualities, and service contributions to MSU Denver and their communities are notable. After the confidential nomination process faculty and staff vote for one student to receive the CLAS honor.
While each department is allowed only one Honoree, the Department of Art wishes to acknowledge all students nominated for this award. This Spring, faculty and staff nominated Emma Zimmerman and Noelle Betkowski who are both exceptional students and individuals. Read about these students here, whose inspirational stories and high academic achievements embody MSU Denver’s values and mission.
As a BFA student in Art, Emma Zimmerman embodies exceptional academic achievement, leadership qualities in and out of the classroom, and a commitment to service that she demonstrates through her involvement in MSU Denver’s artistic and greater campus communities. Faculty nominating Emma commented on her exceptional work ethic, particularly the way she engages in every class meeting where she leads by example. In the words of Professor Yunjin Woo, “Emma unflinchingly demonstrates vulnerable self-reflection and interrogations as both an artist and a student… she has always come to my classes prepared to be vulnerable and challenge herself and others in the pursuit of learning. When provided with challenging questions and critical responses to her studio practice, she has been incredibly gracious and receptive and comes back with stronger work as a result.” Emma’s leadership in the Department is exemplified in her participation in the Senior Experience course, where during install week she was at the gallery every day and helped with nearly every aspect of the show. Ms. Zimmerman also demonstrates significant leadership experience in the broader MSU Denver community and beyond. A passionate advocate for equity and cultivating community, Ms. Zimmerman is an active leader on MSU Denver’s campus as a Fellow for the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy Public Feminism Lab, in which she manages multiple outreach projects and serves as liaison between students and numerous campus departments. Ms. Zimmerman is also a founding student member of MSU Denver’s Restorative Justice Coalition. Professor Carlos Frésquez reflected on his experience working with Ms. Zimmerman in creating a community mural for Curious Theater. In this capacity, Ms. Zimmerman took effort to ensure that the project was reflective of the organization and its community’s preferences, values, and experiences. Emma’s outstanding integrity and her commitment to others embodies the highest values of the Department of Art and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Noelle Betkowski was nominated by faculty in the department for her outstanding academic achievement since transferring to MSU Denver in 2018. Having earned a 3.82 cumulative G.P.A., her academic success is obvious. Among her many other accomplishments, Noelle was most recently Art Director for Metrosphere Magazine, working closely with the Creative Director, Editor-in-Chief, and creative team, including designers and photographers, to convey the vision for both issues of the 40th volume through design. Editor-in-Chief Julia Nguyen wrote, “With an eye for detail and a willingness to experiment, Noelle has helped elevate Metrosphere both in terms of content and design. She has acted as a leader in guiding discussions when evaluating submissions and feedback sessions of spreads.” Noelle’s passion for excellence in design extends to other leadership roles, having assisted in rebuilding the Future Leaders of Design (FLoD) student club since the pandemic. With other officers, she worked to generate new ideas for the future of the club, helped to plan club activities and designed graphics for events. Having held every officer position, including as President, she has actively recruited new members to ensure the health of the organization going forward. Beyond these leadership positions, Noelle has been an exemplary student in the BFA in Communication Design program where she is consistently focused and attentive to others, and she truly supports a participatory framework for education. She is intellectually curious, as witnessed in class discussions and forums where Noelle’s voice often illuminates the discussion with thoughtful inquiries and meaningful interactions between herself and others in the class. Noelle’s stellar academic performance and her leadership and service to others makes her an outstanding member of the Department of Art, and we couldn’t be prouder of this excellent graduate!
Please join us for the BA Open Studios and Exhibitions on December 3rd, from 4pm-7:30pm in the Arts Building.
Visit the BFA Thesis Exhibition from October 29 – December 10, 2021, at the MSU Denver Center for Visual Art.
Preview the BFA Thesis Exhibition online here.
Moussa Sakouk will graduate in Fall, 2021 with the BFA in Communication Design. Moussa began studying for his passion for art and design shortly after immigrating to the US from Morocco in 2007. As a self-supporting international student, who did not qualify for student loans, Moussa worked as an AHEC parking attendant and a minimum wage gas station attendant pulling double shifts. Since 2012 Moussa has worked at J.R. Harris & Company, a structural engineering firm, where he has been promoted from Receptionist, to Accountant, to Comptroller-all with no educational training in accounting. In 2012 Moussa completed his Associates in Multimedia Graphic Design from CCD and enrolled in the Communication Design program at MSU Denver. Working full time Moussa has steadily tended to his degree progress—only able to take classes after 3pm, provided he start work early on class day. Despite an interruption in his studies to care for his Mother-in-Law when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and to battle his own health complications, Moussa never lost sight of his goal. “My ultimate goal was to graduate. The goal was easier than the actions it took to get there. However, no matter what, I kept pushing myself.” Moussa’s thesis work speaks to his immigration experience: Americaness: Loading… “reinforces the process of authentic community engagement, where all members of the community have the potential to transform the immigrant experience into a positive and meaningful transition.” Faculty also highlighted that in the nine years he has studied at MSU Denver, Moussa has been unfailingly positive, good natured, and respectful to the faculty and his fellow students. His strength of character is balanced by his genuine and down to earth demeanor, characteristics we deeply value in our program.
Lizeth Hernandez will graduate in Fall, 2021 with a BFA in Art. Lizeth is a first-generation college student and for her thesis exhibition, she produced a large-scale mixed media art installation, Resiliencia, that explores her bicultural identity as a Mexican American. She incorporates sewing, photography, and embroidery to visually represent what it was like growing up in the United States while being a first-generation Latina. Since the exhibition opened, Lizeth has already presented three artist talks on her thesis work to young adults from the Denver community as part of the Center for Visual Art’s Art + Action Lab programming. This type of service outreach from a current MSU Denver student is instrumental, as it demonstrates to high school students that it is possible to pursue an education and career in the arts. As a student, Lizeth is not only high achieving, but her desire to help those around her is contagious. Her hardworking attitude and inclusive nature motivate other students in the classroom. Lizeth has had leadership positions as a Teaching Assistant in Photography and a Studio Assistantship in the Jewelry & Metalsmithing studio. Through this experience, Lizeth also volunteered to work on developing the Education Dialogue alongside a committee of educators and professionals for the 2021 Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference. Lizeth is also a gallery assistant at the Center for Visual Art (CVA) where she has co-curated two exhibitions in the 965 Gallery. One of Lizeth’s champion goals was advocating for the inclusion of bilingual Spanish and English wall texts for the exhibitions. Lizeth is humble and motivated—the type of person who truly excels in collaboration and leadership roles. Faculty agreed that Lizeth is a model for current and future students, represents the mission of MSU Denver, and is destined for great success after graduation.
The Spring 2021 BFA Thesis Exhibition is the pinnacle of MSU Denver studio art and communication design students’ education as artists and designers. The graduating students will showcase their work in a joint online exhibition at Spring 2021 BFA Thesis Exhibition.
The MSU Denver BFA Thesis exhibitions are typically held at the Center for Visual Art, however due to social distancing and gathering guidelines, the exhibition is in an online forum. While not held at a physical venue, the graduates have put hours of work into photographing, organizing, and displaying their work on the website to create a dynamic exhibition.
The exhibition will feature the work from the following 28 artists and designers: Aman Alchokr, Grace Baclao, Anniston Craddock, Richard Deanda, Beatrice Drew, Reinna Florez, Sarah Folsom, Diana Garcia, Chris Godoy, Emily Hammack, Nori Hess, Jay Hoppe, Jennifer Hudak, Amanda Jensen, Ariel Kensington, Sophia LaBriola, Ashley LaFrance, Davida Martinez, Eric Sanchez Medel, Greg Nelson, Kara O’Dell, Maria Pardo, Angela Reider, Hannah Scheuerman, Kensey Simm, Sarah Steck, Leah Tschumper, and Parker Wiese.
Each graduate approaches subjects such as relationships, identity, societal structures and perception through their individual mediums which vary from sculpture to communication design, ceramics to painting, and digital media. Shared experiences and vulnerability are a driving force behind these works. Pulling from personal as well as shared experiences, the exhibition allows for a space of communication and awareness into expanded perspectives.
Graduating Senior Kenyatta Cole has been selected as a 2020 finalist for an award from the One Club for Creativity for his UX/UI Design and prototyping for a new anxiety app called Solify: Calming Everyday Anxiety.
Cole’s work has also been included in the exhibition of all 2020 honorees in an online format called The One Show which is the world’s most prestigious award show in advertising, design and digital marketing. For over 40 years, The One Club has had a rich legacy of honoring some of the most groundbreaking ideas, created by some of the most remarkable minds in creativity.
We congratulate Kenyatta on this award, as well as his recent graduation with a BFA in Communication Design!
Learn more about Fall 2020 Senior Thesis
Learn more about Army veteran Ralph Root
Alyssa Mora, graduating Senior in Communication Design, was recently honored by being selected as a Made In the Future Fellow. This Fellowship is a career-building design program that provides an immersive foundational curriculum, community support network and access to preeminent industry mentorship for aspiring underrepresented designers.
Mora was also previously awarded “Outstanding Student Organization Member,” given to individuals who demonstrate special commitment and leadership to an MSU Denver organization, during Fall 2020. Her work as student club president with Future Leaders of Design (FLoD), the MSU Denver chapter of American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), “aided the [FLoD] to construct a very solid level of professionalism and growth under her leadership.” Read more about Alyssa and the other 2020 Involvement and Leadership Award recipients here.
The Department of Art celebrates the recent article from Westword about our graduating student, Adrian Raya, and the BFA Thesis exhibition.
Raya’s plan was to have three bodies of work at three locations across the city. He would have an installation exploring emojis and ethnic identities in a public area in an MSU building, another in a campus gallery, and two paintings on display at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council.
Then came the COVID-19 shutdowns. Schools buildings went dark, classes migrated online. And the senior thesis shows were shut down. MSU Denver Art students quickly pivoted, transforming the Spring 2020 BFA Thesis Exhibition, which includes the work of Raya and 34 other MSU students, to an online version.
So exciting to have our students recognized and featured in the press! Check out the Westword article here.
We are very proud to share that Communication Design major, Kandice Cleveland, recently had her review of the Francesca Woodman exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art published in the international online contemporary art magazine, This is Tomorrow.
Cleveland, who was enrolled in ARTH 4480 Art Theory and Criticism over the summer, 2019, was mentored by her Theory and Criticism instructor, Rosanna Van Mierlo, who has an extensive background in contemporary art criticism. Van Mierlo put Cleveland in touch with an editor she knew at This is Tomorrow, who was looking to generate a stronger critical culture in Denver, particularly among emerging professionals.
Asked why she took on this extra-curricular opportunity, Kandice said “I always enjoyed writing, so I was on the lookout for opportunities to do both design and writing. After graduation, I would really like to combine both writing and Communication Design, so perhaps I will publish children’s books or short stories.” We think Kandice’s future looks bright since she’s combining her creativity and critical skills in ways that make her well-positioned to meet any challenge she sets for herself. Congratulations, Kandice! Read her review here.
The BA in Art and the BA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism are degrees that teach us to solve problems through creativity and discovery, and we love to share our results in public with our communities. This is why we have research symposia.
Beginning the semester with a goal of the research symposium in mind, our Spring 2020 BA students were well on their way toward shaping their projects for that public format. But midway through the semester, our world was immobilized by a pandemic.
Congratulations to Communication Design major, Chandler Dolan, who won a major award for her design, Delight!
Otten Johnson, in partnership with the Center for Visual Art, MSU Denver, announced a call for entry for original art that reflects the holiday season in Denver, open to current students of MSU Denver. Five works were selected for exhibition at Otten Johnson’s Holiday Celebration in November where Chandler’s work was voted for inclusion in Otten Johnson’s seasonal ecard, and she was awarded a $2,500 cash prize.
For the past 5 years, Otten Johnson has partnered with artists and designers creating opportunities to showcase their talent to the firm’s stakeholders and community. Each holiday season, they work with artists to develop a creative, fun digital e-card featuring work that celebrates the holiday season and our unique and vibrant Denver community. Reveal Chandler’s winning design here.
MSU Denver Art students, alumni, faculty and staff are invited to submit your art stories and events so we can help spread the word on this website, in social media and via other promotions.Let Us Know What's Happening!