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Quest for a Third Paradise

Highlights from Teaching MA MICA Graduate Thesis Exhibition by Amy Boone-McCreesh

February marked the official start of MICA’s ambitious thesis exhibition schedule. MICA offers over fifteen different graduate programs across disciplines such as Teaching, Sculpture, and Curatorial Practice.  This season started with the Master of Arts in Teaching program and this year there are fifteen candidates (listed at the end of the article). While the program’s emphasis is on teaching in the Arts, the thesis exhibitions presented a multi-disciplinary approach to art making and educating.

YeeHee Shin presented a light-hearted wall mural and equally fun small-scale paintings. Shin cites her approach to art making as being hopeful and therapeutic. About to enter the world of teaching art, Shin is interested in presenting works that act as a (mental) light source and provide a safe and enjoyable space.

Shin with her work, Wall Mural by YeeHe Shin (pictured at top)

Acrylic Paintings by Xingyang Huo
Huo with her paintings

Additional thoughts of encouragement and questioning came from the work of Hannah Elliot. Through almost tromp l’oeil depictions of text, Elliot uses graphite and charcoal to engage viewers in drawings of phrases like “Everything is Okay”. Elliot is interested in encouraging her students to explore and embrace their vulnerable selves.

Drawing by Hannah Elliot

Aueria Javier, Large scale drawings by Aurelia Javier (detail above)

Javier’s hanging panels are double sided, layered with photo transfers, drawing, and text. Javier cites her Dominican heritage as inspiration for her desire to tell stories visually.

Caroline Creeden stitiches handmade clothing as a way to connect to the women of her own family. She also uses this as a way to preserve narratives and community. As an educator she is interested in creating students as researchers with an interest in human history.

Caroline Creeden

Detail of Hannah Ireland’s drawing on mylar and cut paper

Hannah Ireland has a background in printmaking, which has engrained layering processes that she still employs. Layers of mark making exist on Mylar, wall drawings, and video projection, combining to create rich swaths of texture and value.

Hannah Ireland video and wall drawing

Dana Holgerson

Dana Holgerson creates punchy abstract work that lives in a world between painting and sculpture. Clear plastic and thin mesh gives way to visible stretcher bars and clues of construction. The wooden frames also act as compositional elements, with deliberate colors and varying surface qualities.

Paintings and mixed media Installation by Jessica Bastidas

Mixed media installation by Robert Penn, I’m Alright, I’m All Ready for It

Penn tries to make sense of the contemporary world in his installation, which is situated in the lower level of the gallery. Paintings of fences and wire on the wall utilize the existing architecture to create a feeling of prison or an unwelcoming camp. In his wall text Penn speaks of confusion swirling around Western and global issues like elections, refugees, and mass shootings.

He also incorporates the record summer heat as a defining factor in feelings of confusion and depression. This visual experiment, to him, is a way of working through past and impending doom. As an educator, he encourages reflective and critical thinking as a way to navigate uncertainty.

Work by Bridget Adams

Adams presents a collection of clay faces, inspired by her mixed heritage, specifically the women in her family. She deliberately uses clay that cannot be properly fired due to the mixtures she has forced together. To her, this process parallels relationships and the mixing of people to ultimately create families and generations of those families. Each clay piece is slightly different, though they all share unifying features.

Sam Holmes, The Wanderer

Holmes tries to deconstruct the idea of home with an installation mimicking an intimate, domestic space, complete with custom-created stuffed characters.

Alexandra Harmel, Installation view

Alexandra Harmel, Lithography and Intaglio

Harmel also explores the idea of home and identity; by presenting work that documents her journey as an adopted child from China and the implications on her life as an adult living in Western culture.

Moon Choi, Vestige

Inspired by metaphorical and literal fungus, Choi’s gridded wall shows rows and columns of decorated towels. The repetition of the presentation speaks to our repetitive routines in daily life and how certain aspects of our days “grow” on us.

Details of Camille Hallin’s illuminated column made from cut paper and mixed media.

Samantha Peterson’s textile forms (above) crawl through the upstairs portion of the exhibition.The origin of Peterson’s textiles (also seen in video)

Exhibition view, L to R, Dana Holgerson, Samantha Peterson (floor) and Xingyang Huo

Exhibition View


Author Amy Boone-McCreesh is a Baltimore based artist, professor, and writer. MICA Grad Show Coverage is a collaborative effort between BmoreArt and MICA Graduate Programs.

Teaching M.A. MICA Graduate Thesis Exhibition
February 24 – March 12, 2017
Riggs/Leidy Gallery, MICA Bank Building

2017 MAT Candidates: Alexandra Harmel, Aurelia Javier, Bridget Adams, Caroline Creeden, Camille Hallin, Dana Holgerson, Hannah Elliot, Hannah Ireland, Jessica Bastidas, Moon Choi, Robert Penn, Samantha Holmes, Samantha Peterson, Xingyang Huo, and Yeehin Shin. To learn more about the candidates and the program, visit

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