The Catholic University of America

May 6, 2015

Art Students Display Senior Projects

  Mark Thomas speaks about his thesis project.

The Senior Thesis Exhibition currently on display in the Salve Regina Art Gallery features the unique work of studio art majors Mark Thomas and Cristina Rago.

Thomas’s project, District Displaced, is a collection of his photography picturing the hands of local homeless people accompanied by short stories about their lives. Hands, Thomas says, show the physical ramifications of being homeless. Additionally, one wall is covered in photos that the homeless people took with disposable cameras Thomas provided.

“I want to humanize the homeless,” Thomas says. “Everyone has a story, and there is more to being homeless then not having a home.”

Rago, of Stroudsburg, Pa., explains that the inspiration for her project, Marka ng Kabataan: Childhood Imprint comes from childhood memories, both good and bad. When Rago was 12, she came home from school to find her house destroyed by a fire.

On one wall, molded and burned fabrics hang, reminiscent of her hiding behind curtains playing games as a child. On the other wall, canvases with colorful crushed berries splattered on them stand from floor to ceiling, reflecting the memories she has of eating blueberries in her backyard. To create the berry pieces, Rago spit heated blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries onto the canvases.

Cristina Rago talks about her exhibition.

“The process of making these pieces was cathartic,” says Rago. “Each piece reflects a significant moment in my life.”

Each year, the seniors in the art department must complete a thesis project to graduate. Thomas and Rago both worked closely with Jonathan Monaghan, an assistant professor in the department, as they prepared their final works.

"Mark and Cristina produced strong, mature work. The topics their exhibitions explore are serious and relevant and it was exciting to see them develop during their studies at CUA," said Monaghan.

Following Commencement in May, Thomas, who is from Frederick, Md., hopes to continue working on District Displaced. He says he has formed friendships with some of the homeless people he photographed, and he has started a website dedicated to the photography. Rago currently has an internship with the Phillips Collection and says she hopes to one day work in arts administration.

The Senior Thesis Exhibition is on view in the Salve Regina Art Gallery through May 30.




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