Inspired by endangered species from her home state, the fine arts major made paper lithographs of animals on colorful graphic backgrounds for her thesis exhibition.

Senior theses—which, in most disciplines, require a year or more of research, resulting in a final capstone paper or project—is a little different for fine arts majors. The Fords who study painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, or photography are required to take an intensive, yearlong “Senior Seminar,” during which they explore the themes, methods, and concepts that eventually lead to the final group Senior Thesis Exhibition. Throughout that seminar, the students master the techniques and develop the visual vocabulary in their concentration to shape a cohesive body of work.

For Zoë Lewis ’17, that meant learning the art of paper lithography—something the printmaker had never tried before her senior year—and then making it the medium for her capstone collection. Her untitled series of lithographs depicting animals on colorful, graphic backgrounds were inspired by the natural beauty of her home state of South Carolina, specifically its native endangered and threatened species.

“Printmaking and the ability to make editions are seemingly contradictory to extinction, as one image can be reproduced multiple times,” she wrote in the exhibition catalog. “Yet, the method of paper lithography references temporality within each print. After printing, the plate cannot be reused. It’s gone, extinct in a way. And while more copies of the image can be made from new plates, each print goes through its own cycle of creation and death.”

Tell us about your advisor and how they helped you with your project?

Professor Hee Sook Kim was my thesis advisor. [But all of] the fine arts faculty, through the “Senior Seminar” course, routinely checked up on and critiqued each senior’s project. Professor William Williams helped out with writing our artist statements, and Hee Sook and Professor Markus Baenziger both brought in outside artists as guest critics. I specifically got to see Hee Sook every week in class, though, and she was there to troubleshoot any problems that arose in the studio and offered design suggestions.


Photo: a lithograph, “Loggerhead Turtle,” from Lewis’ thesis collection.

What They Learned” is a blog series exploring the thesis work of recent graduates.