BALTIMORE, MD - The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore recently graduated more than 400 young artists, awarding them a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Before graduation, the students displayed their final art projects in a campus-wide exhibit.
In the days before graduation, Jessica Marx and Alexz Giacobbe are put the finishing touches on a project they’ve been working on for months.
Jessica, a photography major, made the hats for their fashion line, Mama Said. Alexz, a fiber major, created the garments. The artists used sewing patterns from the 1940s and ‘50s to create the garments.
Mannequins dressed by Maryland Institute College of Art students Jessica Marx and Alexz Giacobbe. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Alexz says her pieces were inspired by remnants of fabric given to her by her great-grandmother. “I wanted to figure out a way I could preserve and expand these tiny scraps that really didn’t mean anything to her, but for some reason meant so much to me.”
Alexz scanned the fabrics into a computer and then enlarged them before printing them out.
For them, the project was a way to connect with the past.
“We realize that if we don’t remember this time," says Alexz, "who’s going to be left to share these memories?”
Jessica also used fabric from her childhood for hats she incorporated into a photo exhibit.
"I made two hats from one fabric and one is made to honor my mother and is placed on a pedestal in the installation, and the one that honors my father is placed on the floor covered in a shroud,” Jessica says.
MICA is one of the oldest art schools in the country and offers 16 undergraduate majors. Each year, graduating students display their final art projects in an exhibit that extends through the school's hallways and classes.
Raj Bunnag majored in printmaking. His project, "Cranky," features elaborate scenes etched into linoleum that express his dreams and nightmares.
Matthew Smith majored in animation. His thesis is a hand-drawn 2-D animation of Albert Einstein and his gravity equation.
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"I went the old school way of doing handrawn on paper," he says. "Basically with my exhibition here, I just wanted to take apart the animation and really let the viewer see the labor behind it.”
It took him 10 months to create the five-minute animated film.
For Matthew and the 400 other graduates, receiving their degrees was the hightlight of their education.
"I feel amazing, I feel relieved. I feel blessed, I feel unbelievable," Jessica says. "It doesn't feel real. It's been such a long road and it's been a great road and I'm really happy to be done and ready to celebrate."
Many students feel confident about the road ahead, even in a tough economy, because of their experiences at MICA.