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Senior Art Students Share The ‘Why’ Behind Their Creative Process

Grace College Senior Art Thesis

Every spring, senior art students at Grace comb through their creative pieces from the past four years at Grace. They evaluate their strengths, they recognize their weaknesses, and they celebrate their growth in the areas of art, illustration, media arts, photography, and visual communication design

Their college education culminates with an exhibit that highlights their skills and captures their unique aesthetic. This year, because of reduced gathering sizes and remote classes, the art students were challenged to synthesize their exhibit into a double-sided poster. Those posters will be revealed at an invitation-only event in the Mount Memorial Art Gallery, but are located at this online gallery exhibition for all to appreciate.  

We talked to our senior artists to hear the “why” behind their posters. Enjoy!

Adam Stevens, media arts

Stevens is a storyteller by trade. He enjoys the challenge of capturing the heart of someone’s experience and conveying it in a way that moves his audience to a deeper understanding. For his senior poster, he showcased shots from two videos that told powerful stories. The first was the story of Stevens’ dad, Andrew Stevens Jr., who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and neurofibromatosis (NF). The mini-documentary details the day-to-day challenges he faces. The second was a class assignment to piece together raw footage from Little People Matter when they unveiled a new well for a community in Africa.

“I just want to tell stories and bring joy and happiness to people,” Stevens explained.

Katie Miller, photography, general business

Katie Miller owns a photography business by the name of “Authentic Radiance.” She strives to shoot every subject in such a way that when they get their photos back, they look at the images and feel truly radiant. Not in a hyper-edited way, but in an authentic, raw, and real way. She keeps her photography style simple and seeks to capture moments of honesty and vulnerability. The simple design of her poster and the photos she chose to feature are reflective of this. 

“Overall, it is my honor to photograph something that God so perfectly put together: He is the author, I am just the photographer,” said Miller. 

Christian Cardoza, media arts, film studies 

Cardoza has a wealth of travel experiences. Son of an avid traveler, he has been to places that most college students do not even know exist. So when it came to choosing what to feature on his senior poster, the choice was pretty clear. Cardoza selected a number of his favorite photographs that highlight places he’s been, cultures he’s experienced and faces he’s seen along the way. His collage captures a stark contrast of settings, ideas, and lifestyles through realism art. 

“We can learn something from anybody, good or bad. That is a tenet I hold dear to my heart, and I like to showcase that idea through a lot of my photography,” said Cardoza.

Nichole Cochran, illustration, creative writing

When Cochran was young, she wanted to be a zookeeper. Her passion evolved as she got older, and she decided she wanted to be a biologist. Now, she is an artist — and to this day, animals remain the subject of her interest. Her poster displays animal art through a variety of mediums, from clip-art to photorealistic portraits. Much of her work is inspired by the idea of anthropomorphism which is the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object. 

“I love to explore the beauty of Creation in my work,” said Cochran. 

Madeline Gray, photography, creative writing

Before Gray ever knew she wanted to major in photography, she was always enthralled by nature. On her family vacations growing up, she was always the one lagging behind, capturing photos of the ocean, or the trees, or the sky. “It’s always sort of been there,” she said of her passion for nature. Her poster features a collection of natural photos that Gray says she is most proud of. 

“I take my camera with me on every trip I take, excitedly waiting for the moment inspiration strikes. I want my work to show how wondrous and beautiful this world can be,” said Gray. 

Brandy Greenamyer, photography, visual communication design

Raw. Unedited. Natural. These are the stipulations for Greenamyer’s approach to photography — an approach that sets her apart from many others. And the story behind her approach is inspiring. Growing up, Greenamyer struggled to view herself as beautiful. Instead of seeing the unique way God had designed her, she compared herself to those around her. Photography became her way of helping other people see the beauty in themselves that she never could. Her photography is inspired by the Brad Montague quote:

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” 

Anna Cale, visual communication design, biblical studies, digital marketing

Cale’s faith and the word of God are very important to her. Naturally, this passion has found its way into the art she creates — quite literally. Cale takes the actual words of scripture and uses them to create an image that represents the passage she chooses. For example, her image of the lamb is formed from passages like John 1:29 and Revelation 17:14 which talk about the Lamb of God. Her overarching goal is to capture the way the Bible makes her feel through art. 

“Each image is a piece of my faith put into art,” said Cale. 

Mitchell Bowen, visual communication design, illustration

Bowen of Golden, Colorado, chose a project very near and dear to his heart when he featured his hometown postcard set on his senior poster. “This set is very meaningful to me,” he said. The series of 13 postcards capture the spirit of Golden and is laid over a map of the town. If you look closely, you can identify spots on the map that are highlighted in the postcards. Bowen also debuted his new travel poster business logo featuring the mountain goat for its nomadic, independent, and balanced nature — a style that reflects Bowen’s approach as an artist.

“The goal of my work is to bring the unique impact of areas around the country directly into the lives of individuals,” said Bowen. 

Senior Art Students at Grace College present their work in art, illustration, media arts, photography, and visual communication design. 

Rebekah Priskorn, illustration, media arts

When Priskorn was young, her father called her a trailblazer, and that is the identity she has clung to ever since. While many artists concern themselves with one particular medium, Priskorn considers herself a multi-media artist. She loves learning new things and experimenting with both studio and digital mediums. In fact, in many forms and styles, she is self-taught — a trailblazer indeed. She features both digital and studio works on her poster including several children’s book illustrations.

“My hope is to bring to the table a knowledge of well-rounded understanding in order to teach and encourage other trailblazers with dreams of their own,” said Priskorn. 

Brityna VanHooser, media arts, illustration

VanHooser’s art is highly influenced by her faith. The paintings she chose to feature on her poster all have a deeper, spiritual meaning than what meets the eye. The first represents the story of Hosea. The second painting called, “Omnipresence” images the way God can see us from every angle at all times, playing on the concept of cubism. And the final painting captures the way God works in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. God wraps Himself around the chaos of life, and even though we might not see him at the time, when we look back, his presence is exceedingly apparent. 

“Some of these experiences seem to be tragic, but the testimonies lead future believers to trust God, understand Him better and overall grasp more about His character,” she said. 

Kisandra Smith, photography, marketing

Variety is Smith’s specialty. When it comes to photography, she does it all. Smith wanted the diversity of her portfolio to come through in her poster — from senior portraits to engagements to best friend photoshoots. As she looks through the photos she’s taken through the years, each one conjures up memories, relationships, and stories. Whether it’s the spontaneous shoot she did with her roommate in college or the romantic shoot she did for her nephew’s engagement, Smith describes the experience of looking through the lens of a camera as magic: 

“Photography gives me the opportunity to capture the moments we’ll treasure most,” said Smith.

Natalie Davis, visual communication design, photography

Mental health is a big part of Davis’ story. She wants her art to contribute to the ongoing conversation about mental health and fight against the stigma that still exists. Her poster includes a self-portrait with words circling around her. “Our thoughts can be very loud and can feel like they’re pressing in on you,” explained Davis. “But in my hand is a paintbrush which I used to cross all of it out to show that you don’t have to lean into the things that your mind is telling you,” she said. The words in the piece are actually song lyrics from “Some Kind of Disaster” by All Time Low, a band that helped Davis get through some of the hardest times of her life.

“I want to show others that God can use them, even with all their broken pieces. My hope is that my art can help others feel seen and understood and know they’re not alone,” said Davis. 

Timothy Hempel, visual communication design, illustration

Hempel unashamedly describes himself as “having his heads in the clouds.” He has never given up on the imaginative thinking and creative play that took root in him as a child and that shows up in his art. The figure on the poster represents him and the style of the drawing embodies his  “chaotic” creative style and tendencies. His goal is that his art captures the child-like wonder that we all once had.

“My art is designed to speak to that part of people. Not the busy man on Wall Street but the child inside of him that never gave up on his dream of yielding a lightsaber. It is my hope that I can remind them that their imagination still has power in the midst of their routine lives,” said Hempel. 

Kelli Kornoelje, visual communication design, digital marketing

As a visual communication design student, Kornoelje wanted everything in her senior poster to point back to the realities of technology. She chose to frame her woks inside of a laptop surrounded by pixels and green wires to nod to the idea that without the nuts and bolts of technology, graphic design would not exist as an artistic medium. On the computer screen, Kornoelje features a number of her favorite creations over the years. 

“It is clean-cut, modern, form-fitting with spurts of whimsicality relating to the world through modern style always keeping up with the time,” Kornoelje said of her designs.

Karissa Kornoelje, illustration, visual communication design

When Kornoelje was informed that there would no longer be a full-fledged gallery in Mount Memorial for her senior exhibit, she was determined to keep the gallery vibe present in the format of her poster. And so, Kornoelje featured a number of her favorite works from her portfolio within the framework of two gallery walls. Kornoelje’s close attention to detail shines through in all of her creative endeavors — whether it be digital mediums, graphic design, or photography. 

“Creating, no matter the medium, my goal is always to make an impact that my words cannot say. It is an honor to leave an impact on people now and throughout their entire life,” said Kornoelje. 

Jalen Williams, visual communication design, music production

Williams is a force to be reckoned with. When he enters a room, he brings a sense of energy and vibrancy that few people do. So when it came to creating a poster for his senior exhibit, he wanted to capture his energy and the way it is expressed through music. When Williams’ first enrolled at Grace as a visual communication design major, he was encouraged to find his “thing.” Some art students found painting, others found sculpting; Williams found music. His poster is the intersection of his contagious, laid-back personality with the realm of music where he finds his sense of identity.

“Striving to visually replicate the sensation of working in audio through an atmospheric approach, my work bridges the gap between the audio and visual realms,” said Williams. 


If you are a Grace College student, faculty, or staff, you can see these posters in person at the Mount Memorial Art Gallery. The gallery is open Monday-Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m.  

Tagged With: School of Arts & Sciences, Art, Student Stories