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Friday, April 24th

A Breakdown of Visual Online Media and Its Relation to Creativity

Spike Rubin, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

Creativity is important to exercise as it can lead to greater problem-solving skills, emotional well-being, self-expression, work-ethic, originality, and innovation. Eighty-five percent of children in 2008 were less creative than children tested in the 1980’s. The overall decline in creativity can be attributed to factors such as online social media and entertainment. To explore creativity on social media platforms, it must first be examined by using the different skills and ideas implemented in online visual storytelling by social media users. A loss of creativity can be explained due to the changing nature of social media platforms and how that has affected visual storytelling methods, reception, and viral-ness. By analyzing through the disciplines of psychology, mass communications, and visual arts, it is possible to arrive at an answer to fix the loss of creativity. Psychology’s discipline lens is being used to understand how creativity is measured, its types, and how it is linked to entertainment and environment. The lens of mass communication focuses on engagement and responses to popular videos to explain how websites are being formatted to encourage copying and other behaviors that lead to a loss of creativity. Visual art is being used to break down the visual storytelling elements present in videos and compare different levels of technical skill, which would influence the level of reception and creativity. To understand and improve creative storytelling, its loss must be documented and analyzed over time; then, the current nature surrounding online media and its main issues must be changed.

A Guide to African Princesses


MaKayla Ray, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.; Alice Burmeister, Ph.D.; Adolphus Belk, Ph.D.; and Jesse Weser, M.A.

A Guide to African Princesses inspires young Black/African American girls and will encourage Black/African American storylines in Hollywood. It includes Princess Yennenga, Queen of Sheba, Queen Amina of Zazzau Kingdom, Kandake, the empress of Ethiopia, and Yaa Asantewa. To achieve this, the guide focuses on having text including each princess’s name, lifespan, legacy, and appropriate phonetic transcription. Phonetic transcription is important because the spelling of a word or name does not always tell someone how to pronounce it. The guide also includes decorative elements; the decorative elements, linking back to the culture of each African princess. Research methods include, but are not limited to: artifact analysis, content analysis, secondary research, and prototyping. The purpose of the artifact and content analyses is to aid in approaching the project systemically: systematically observing, examining, and describing the written and visual materials. Secondary research and prototyping of the project will take all information gathered from artifact and content analyses in terms of aesthetics and information gathered from mentors to create a guide of African princesses.

A Sensual Exploration of Melancholy


Rachel Blumer, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.; Jesse Weser, M.A.; Tamara LaValla, B.F.A.; and Casey Cothran, Ph.D.

What does it mean to be melancholy? It is a distinct and personal emotion—a type of sadness and a feeling all its own. Melancholy is not something people usually seek out, but it can be a comfortable, pensive, and creative space to sit in. The beautiful thing about melancholy is how one is able to be both joyful and sorrowful at the same time. I began the project by conducting a survey about what others think sadness smells, tastes, and sounds like. I have also researched poetry and music. I explore melancholy in different mediums and creative techniques, including a melancholy package design, spatial design, a song, prints, interface design, and tattoos. Why do so many people avoid sadness and melancholy when they are sensual, visceral, and natural aspects of life? I want to express how and why I am able to find peace in this form of deep sadness. My thesis will show others that experiencing and thinking about melancholy instead of avoiding it can yield some beautiful results. My thesis is a deep dive into my own subconscious. It is an attempt to understand my own affinity for the emotion just as much as it is a creative project.



Margaret Feltman-Ruiz, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.; Elizabeth Dulemba, M.F.A.; and Casey Cothran, Ph.D.

Throughout history, women had to change themselves in order to accomplish their goals. My thesis brings attention to these often forgotten or dismissed women of the past. Disguysed is a nonfiction children’s book that focuses on 12 women from history who disguised themselves as men to further their careers or lives. Each spread contains an illustration of the woman, along with a biography from the research I collected. Separate from the biographies, the book contains extra historical context to shed light on the social climates that these women experienced. The design of the illustrations isn’t masculine or feminine, in the hopes of attracting not just 8- to 12-year-old girls, but boys as well.

Death Bakes Pies: An Exploration of Creative Burnout and Procrastination


Alexis Simmons

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A., and Elizabeth Dulemba, M.F.A.

Death Bakes Piestells the story of a student from my point of view, a student who struggles with mental health and burnout. These tongue-in-cheek stories, shown as webcomics, feature myself and a supporting character named Death. The latter is an ironic analog for the emotional support systems and positive relationships necessary to stave off depression and apathy caused by burnout. As much as this thesis is about the end product, it’s also about the process. A large inspiration for this project sprouted from my struggles working on, and procrastinating on, my personal thesis project. And so, a component of the project was finding successful methods of remaining productive and rekindling the joy I originally felt in illustration. Accessibility and ease of understanding are important components, as well. My experiences are something anyone could go through and many people do go through. I want to present my work in an unpretentious, approachable manner. I want people to see parts of themselves in my experiences.

Magneto as an Allegory for Golem

Spike Rubin, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.

X-Men are well known for their entertainment value as comic books and movies; however, they can also offer commentary on different societal issues and give insight on a time period’s values. Originally, X-Men was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and in the early comic book issues, the storylines and characterizations were very straightforward and one-dimensional. Later, Chris Claremont became the writer for the series and gave the characters and plot more complexity. One such change was to the X-Men’s archenemy, Magneto, whose characterization shares various elements with Golems from Jewish folklore – monsters that are created from malleable material in order to protect their communities. This research investigates the ways Magneto and the Golem have contextual and visual similarities across X-Men movies and comic books.

the space in which we exist

Samantha Ross, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Claudia O'Steen, M.F.A.

"If you were to die today, what items would make you up as a person?" This question was asked of twenty different individuals in order to dive deeply into how people think, feel, and perceive the world that we live in. After selecting their items, participants were told to put the pieces into provided mason jars. They then were asked to explain who they were in their own writing. These written statements could involve their objects, stories about themselves, jokes—anything they could think of. I allowed their replies to be flexible and open. After receiving the jars and statements, I considered my own relationships with the participants by creating word association lists. These words were turned into sketches of simple objects that represented each of the individuals. One sketch for each person was chosen and turned into a soft sculpture. When displayed, the soft sculptures are placed in an environment that mimics a living room to give the viewers a safe and warm place to connect with the work. This placement coincides with the photographs on the walls so the viewers can hold the soft sculptures and see the photos simultaneously. This is a documentary project based on people, their perspectives of themselves, and of the way that I, as an artist, see them. The metamorphosis of these ideas leads to how we as humans change and grow due to our relationships and connections with others.

Unhinged: Anthology


Elizabeth Shepard, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A., and Elizabeth Dulemba, M.F.A.

Unhinged explores women in mythology and religion that are perceived as “evil,” but in my telling, are reincarnated as modern, everyday female leads. The theme of Unhinged: Anthology is how women fight oppressive forces, not shying away from female identity and power. I’ve adapted my stories from myths and folklore from other cultures. The first three stories in Unhinged: Anthology are: “The Huldra“ (Norse), “The Rangda” (Balinese) and “The Maenad” (Greek). I’ve written these stories in the form of scripts, approved by my committee members. Because traditional black-and-white high contrast adds to the horror aesthetic, the medium for the pages is ink. Unhinged: Anthology will be published into a graphic novel, with one version digital and the other printed. Readers of Unhinged: Anthology will better understand the idea of women embracing their unfortunate fate, coping with cosmic horrors, and finding a sense of freedom with their instincts and dark desires. Like the horror films of today starring women, Hereditary, The VVitch, Us, and Midsommar, readers will enjoy Unhinged.

Vern Multilingual Font System


Nathan Zawadzki, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.; Jesse Weser, M.A.; Valerie Jepson, Ph.D.; Kelsey Elder, M.F.A., Rhode Island School of Design; and Kurt Goblirsch, Ph.D., University of South Carolina

Vern is designed in Latin, Cyrillic, and Hebrew for a total of roughly 160 characters or glyphs in this writing system. Based on the research of these systems, a reverse contrast style fits Cyrillic and Hebrew, while normal contrast has more difficulty in adjusting to them. This slab serif, reverse contrast style keeps the look of a traditional serif font in Latin. Vern’s unified design across multiple languages works in media such as book text or large-scale signage.

Well One Time At Camp…: A Visual Exploration into Storytelling at Summer Camp


Streaming video available

Margaret L. Claytor, Winthrop University

Well One Time At Camp… is a body of mixed media paintings exploring the history of storytelling and memory through the scope of summer camp. Subjects from Camp Seneca Lake, ranging from the ages of 8 to 58, were interviewed to recall their most memorable moments while at camp. The stories were recorded and used as narrative inspiration for the body of work. The larger mixed media paintings incorporate found objects to examine the effects left by the memory and were inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s combine-paintings. The smaller works are inspired by plaques that line the walls of the dining hall at Camp Seneca Lake. The process of creation played with the specificity and generality of storytelling. Depending on the point of view, details and moments from the narrative can be altered or forgotten. This essay focused on the perspective and timeline of each narrative to determine how specific or general the representation of the setting could be. The abstraction, color, and materiality of each piece reflected the descriptors and word choice used in each interview. An 8-year-old’s story including distinct childlike word choice led to a more youthful and simple color palette. Lengthier memories that were told with more maturity required thoughtful consideration to details and abstracted laying of moments. The abstraction of the narratives and lack of text hinders how easily the audience can understand the narrative, but allows the audience the opportunity to add their own interpretations to continue the evolution of the story.

Wild Apparel: A Sustainable Clothing Line


Jogvan Andreas A. Jacobsen, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Jason Tselentis, M.F.A.; Elizabeth Dulemba, M.F.A.; Jamey Boiter, B.F.A., Bolt Group; and Jake Nickell

The fashion industry has increasingly contributed to environmental waste through production and distrubution of crops, fibers, and garments that are dumped every day, polluting our water, soil, and air. My sustainable clothing line does the opposite, with clothes and packages built from recycled materials. With Wild Apparel, I will create casual streetware clothes with a subconcsious focus on being sustainable, contributing to bettering our earth, although not in a protesting or reprimanding way. The clothes are made from recycled plastic, driven by solar powered machines and fair wages to the employees. Wild Apparel will be working with organizations around the world that help cleaining plastic waste, by taking in some of the waste as a resource to our clothes. A percentage of the profit made from clothes created from a given organization will go right back to the organization, in an attempt to close the loop of the sustainability circle. In recent days, fast fashion – inexpensive and rapidly produced clothes – has taken over and is polluting the Earth more than ever. These clothes are made specifically for people to buy cheaply and replace within a year or two, only contributing to generating more waste. My brand stands out as a role model for slow fashion that highlights durability and style, while simultaneously battling fast fashion.