Doing a studio art thesis is quite a controversy on campus. The only written component of the studio art thesis is a W2 second semester senior year, and the insanely complex (no sarcasm) artist statement. It seems like everyone believes you’re not actually doing hard work. Everyone looks down on you because you’re not doing anything “really challenging” like science or math or neuroscience, or whatever. However, creative theses are extremely emotionally consuming and require long hours in the studio– sometimes until the early hours of the morning. Creative theses produce independent and original work, and the same can’t always be said for non-creative ones. A creative thesis also has no clear conclusion, and yet it’s a year-long commitment. Artists just have to work until they feel their work is resolved enough to present. Every student at Bates has to complete the intimidating endeavor of a thesis or equivalent coursework and we shouldn’t degrade those students pursuing a more abstract project.
One painting could take anywhere from 8 hours to years to finish and that doesn’t guarantee it being good enough to end up in the final show. Students must undergo critiques with the whole thesis class, in which everyone must make opinionated comments on your work while you silently listen. In an analytic thesis you might experience writer’s block, which you must work through by reading and researching more. As an artist, getting into a creative rut is terrifying. You must create work on a schedule but you can’t force yourself to be inspired or produce more emotion– art doesn’t work that way. Even if you hate what you’re making, you have to keep making it until you construct something promising. Making and presenting terrible art when you know you have the capacity to create something better is practically torture. It’s like editing a paper and every time you edit it, it gets worse. And then you have to keep reading it to seventeen other people each week, including professors, who have already heard it multiple times and are really getting sick of you.
Despite this, we stick with it because it’s a labor of love. Nothing makes your inner kindergartener prouder than holding up a painting and saying, “I made this!” A creative thesis necessarily results in some emotional and personal development over the course of the year. Producing artistic work forces you to be self-conscious and self-reflective. It’s impossible not to learn more about yourself and grow newfound appreciations (or hatreds) of your thought processes.
So come view the birth of our work after eight months of labor. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids went into this. It’ll be like the Mt. David Summit with minimal reading required on your part. No wine will be served, but we promise the art is intoxicating enough.