Capstone Experience

BFA Thesis Project

During the second semester of the senior year at PNCA, students produce a dynamic body of work accompanied by a written paper that meaningfully explores a significant and self-defined issue or concept. It represents an opportunity for students to devote an entire semester to a single idea or process. Faculty members act as mentors, helping students to develop command of their vision and an awareness of the historic and social context of their work.

Thesis projects can range from jewelry that comments on honeybee colony collapse to staged meals and table settings inspired by memories of loved ones, from installations that recreate cross-country journeys to gospel music performances that explore alternative forms of creative expression. Whatever the project, the rigorous thesis experience prepares students for the transition from the college environment to a life of sustained creative practice.

Focus Week

Each academic semester the entire PNCA community suspends normal classroom activity to engage in a weeklong celebration of the senior thesis students and their projects. The week includes a variety of extracurricular events, presentations, and workshops, but the “focus” of Focus Week is on the accomplishments of the thesis students who spend the week presenting their final work to student and faculty audiences and faculty panels.

BFA Thesis Exhibition

As a conclusion to the thesis experience, all PNCA seniors present their work in the BFA Thesis Exhibition. The show opens on the day of graduation and continues for a month. It features a variety of activities and opportunities that give students exposure to the arts community at large. During this time, the College hosts an artists’ reception to introduce graduates to Portland’s art and design professionals. This special reception affords students the opportunity to discuss their work with collectors, curators, and gallery owners who are interested in emerging talent.

Joseph Webb ‘12 presents his thesis work on pop culture, advertising, and digital manipulation to a panel of mentors, professors, and practicing artists. Photo by Micah Fischer ‘13.