The LUAG curatorial team and seven seniors from the Department of Art, Architecture and Design installed "Art, Architecture and Design: The Senior Thesis Exhibition" at the Siegel Gallery, Iacocca Hall. (Courtesy of Sarrah Hussain and Erik Kersten)

[email protected] Series highlights Art Architecture and Design seniors


Art, Architecture and Design: The Senior Thesis Exhibition, hosted by Lehigh University Art Galleries as part of their [email protected] Series, allows seniors to share their final projects with the Lehigh community. 

The virtual event, held on April 9, highlighted four of the seven featured seniors from the Departments of Art, Architecture and Design: Sarrah Hussain, Eric Kersten, Natalie Mitchell and Viola Yu. The students were able to present a slideshow summarizing their installment at the Siegel Gallery at Iacocca Hall. Mike Kossir, Shana Lichaw, Julia Randolph-Flagg, Will Siddons and Brett DeWeese will be highlighted in a similar presentation to be held on April 23.

Each senior took turns introducing themselves, their major and individual artistic style. Spotlights were followed by a brief Q&A session with audience members and faculty mentors. The chat function on Zoom served as a space for participants to ask additional questions and applaud seniors.

Stacie Brennan, curator of education for LUAG, works with faculty and student groups to develop programs like the [email protected] Series to provide a space for student discussion surrounding art at Lehigh.

“As we were approaching spring, we really wanted to find opportunities to highlight the seniors who were graduating this year through (Art, Architecture and Design)” Brennan said.

The seniors worked with the LUAG exhibition team, specifically Mark Wonsedler, curator of exhibitions, and Jeffrey Ludwig-Dicus, head preparator, to customize the gallery design and make their visions a reality.

Natalie Mitchell, ‘21, an IDEAS major studying mechanical engineering, is displaying a four-square digital painting collection, along with a wooden box highlighting her passion for furniture design. 

As a mechanical engineering student, Mitchell said she appreciates functional and math-related design.

“All of the things that I make are representational,” Mitchell said. “I admire the people that can do abstract. I don’t get it.”

Eric Kersten, ’21, worked on abstract acrylic paintings. 

As an environmental engineer, Kersten said the idea of painting and creating art in general seemed contradictory. However, working in the Art, Architecture and Design department allowed him to follow a passion for painting-focused studio art.

Inspired by the concept of time, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kersten’s painting represents our altered perception of time. 

The painting, titled “Blink,” came from the source image of a flash of light during a concert, Kersten said. He then digitally edited it in Photoshop and based his painting off of that product. 

Throughout his process, Kersten said he appreciated help from his mentor, Dierdre Murphy, visiting assistant professor of painting and printmaking, who inspired him to enlarge his work to a six foot by four foot format. 

“I wanted to go pretty big with my paintings, but she was the one who pushed me into doing something huge,” Kersten said.

Visitors can view the Senior Thesis Exhibition Gallery through May 24. Since many campus buildings are limited to students, the general public must make appointments to visit the Siegel Gallery. 

LUAG is planning a culminating reception at graduation, Brennan said. The virtual [email protected] Thesis Exhibition is also streamed on Facebook so people can continue to access the seniors’ presentations.

“I think that it’s a really great opportunity to share and celebrate the talent of the artists on campus, and also to shine a light on the faculty in (Art, Architecture and Design) and the mentorship they have with students,” Brennan said.

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