Search for Self-Knowledge Theme of March Graduate Art Exhibitions

The University of Alabama department of art and art history is proud to present the Master of Arts thesis exhibitions of Sandra Vega and Ashlee René Thompson, March 1-12, 2021, in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery. The public is invited to visit Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Due to our ongoing precautions to keep our gallery visitors and staff safe, visitors must wear masks and are limited to ten people at a time.

Synaptic Transmission – MA Thesis Exhibition of Ashlee René Thompson

Painting graduate student Ashlee René Thompson‘s work in acrylic painting and mixed media addresses the social stigma of mental illness. Through her representation of “personal neuro-imagery, neuropsychology, psychopathology, and the relationship between personal memory, experience, and abstract images,” she aims “to advocate broader knowledge of mental illnesses.” In Thompson’s studio practice, she writes, “I lose track of time and allow myself to stand in the presence of the work; I become entranced in the movement and energy of the line, shape, and color flowing from my own hand. My methods become a record of stream of consciousness, impromptu mark-making, and genuine artistic energy.” Thompson holds an MLA in general studies and a BA in fine arts with a minor in art history from Auburn University at Montgomery, where she also serves as an adjunct instructor.

Abstract painting by Ashlee Rene Thompson
Ashlee René Thompson, Serotonin, 2020, acrylic, ink, graphite, conté crayon, and collage on mixed media paper, 108 by 36 inches.

Caminos de Identidad – MA Thesis Exhibition of Sandra Vega

Printmaking graduate student Sandra Vega’s exhibition title, she writes, is best translated as “A Search for Identity.” As the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, an “anchor baby,” and a first-generation college student, Sandra Vega feels that she has been expected to be the embodiment of strength. And yet, she writes that she is drawn to the idea of vulnerability and to depict it in her current artwork, primarily prints and ceramics. “My work displays a physical and metaphorical representation of vulnerability illustrated through various insects and wounded bodies. The crushed insects and wounded characters are projections of myself; they are extended self-portraits of my personal struggle with having to face and accept my own vulnerability and search for identity…My imagery displays the balance between resilience and vulnerability as the unidentified characters show no reaction through their body language despite their wounds and what may be occurring around them.”  Vega is a graduate teaching assistant at UA. She holds a BFA from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa. Vega assisted in the NEA-funded program Pots-n-Prints mobile studio (featured in the Washington Post), which traveled to rural areas in west and southwest Texas, teaching students silkscreen printing, etching, and ceramics. Images from her exhibition are on Flickr.

Triptych by Sandra Vega
Sandra Vega, Las Tres, 2020, acrylic, pastel, cyanotype, triptych: each piece approx. 36 x 48 inches.

The Sella-Granata Art Gallery is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. The gallery is located at 109 Woods Hall, 7th Avenue, on UA campus in Tuscaloosa and admission is free. Gallery hours for the 2021 spring semester are Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The gallery is open to the public, limited to ten (10) visitors at a time. Visitors must wear face coverings inside the gallery and maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others.  

For more information about the programs in the UA Department of Art and Art History, go to this page or contact the department at (205) 348-5967.