Slice of Cincinnati

The Art Academy of Cincinnati's Senior Thesis Exhibitions

With both the Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum now offering free admission, and more galleries popping up in Over-the-Rhine and Camp Washington, there’s never been more opportunities to see fine art (for free) in Cincinnati. However, the best-kept secret of Cincinnati art lies in the Art Academy of Cincinnati. That’s right — let’s go back to where many artists get their start: art school.

From the complex layers surrounding everything around us to the concepts on concealing, revealing and everything in between, students at the Art Academy are exploring many realms this spring in their senior thesis shows.

The thesis shows are the final requirement for students of all majors to graduate from the Art Academy, exhibiting the culmination of their work completed over their academic career there. What makes the students’ exhibitions interesting is their creative freedom to center them on any theme or subject they choose.

For many students, it is their first exhibition and introduction into the professional art world. For many gallery visitors, it is a look at the youngest and newest talent in the art world. In addition to displaying their work, students are responsible for all other aspects of the exhibitions, such as lighting and publicizing their event.

“The thesis show is crucial to every student,” says Aaron Broughton, whose work is featured in the thesis show THIS/THAT. “It's that instance at the end of education that says, ‘Look out world, I'm here to fuck shit up!’ ”

THIS/THAT, which closed tonight with a reception from 5-8 p.m., has no prevailing theme; instead, it is a combination of solo shows for the six students represented. The eclectic sample features fashion design, photography, painting, sculpture, video and more.

“The school teaches us a bunch of tools, figuratively and literally, then gives us a bunch of opportunities,” Broughton says. “Then we learn to put in the hard work to make them worthwhile. It's prepared me to seek what I want and grab any opportunity I can.”

Art Academy Professor Jimmy Baker says it is important not only that the students create work, but also for them to learn to put their work into the world for criticism and public engagement.

As each exhibition remains on display for only one week, visitors can see the Art Academy transformed into a new world to explore each week from March through April. The rich curry of mediums and topics explored give viewers a little bit of everything, such as Katie Barnett’s fusion of plant displays into sculpture, Leslie Hacker’s series of pillows printed with images of nudes or Morgan Greer’s exploration of hair with braids forming into intricate designs and sculptures.

“I feel like our seniors have a real interesting interdisciplinary senior year,” Baker says. “Sometimes we have people who may be majoring in sculpture but making video, we have people who are designers but might end up doing performance.”

While you will probably never be disappointed with a visit to any art exhibit in Cincinnati, be sure to make your way to the Art Academy this month to catch some innovative and thought provoking art from Cincinnati’s freshest up-and-coming talent. The last senior thesis show, Zenith, runs until April 29.

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