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One of Wisconsin's most expansive art exhibitions is held every spring in the Third Ward, showing off the work of a bunch of soon-to-be graduates.

Sometimes it’s OK to show off. That’s what seniors at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design plan to do this weekend.

MIAD seniors spend at least a semester focusing on a single thesis project, showing off not only what they’ve learned in the last four years but also what they’re capable of post-graduation.

Members of the public, including potential employers, will wander the miss-matching halls, encountering work from all of MIAD’s fine arts seniors at the 2018 MIAD Senior Exhibition. Projects include interactive demonstrations, short films, mechanical tools, mobile app designs and fully laid out art exhibits across three floors and more than 18,000 square feet of gallery spaces.

MIAD Senior Thesis Exhibition

Opening Reception: 5-9 p.m. on April 20
Mondays-Saturdays: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until May 12
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design: 273 E. Erie Street


There will be 119 different artists presenting their collegiate tour de force, the largest exhibition of its kind in Wisconsin.

A poster by Stephen Guma.

“Students get job offers because of the thesis exhibition,” illustration professor Christiane Grauert said.

Stephen Guma is one of those 119 seniors whose work will be on display, but he says what he’s taught himself the last few months outweighs his desire to get hired right out of college.

“I would definitely like an employer to come around,” Guma laughs, knowing how difficult it can be for artists to land a job. “It’s important to get noticed.”

Guma is an illustration major who created an animated trailer, two posters and 3D-printed figurines for his thesis.

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In the last few months, the 22-year-old Milwaukeean has battled with 3D printing for the first time, used his photography skills to inform how to light his animation and designed characters to fit into a story that’s been brewing in his mind for years. Even with all the planning and time devoted to the project, the video portion wasn’t 100-percent complete until earlier this week.

Guma says that his vision for the project didn’t fit into what professors expected or wanted, considering its multidisciplinary nature.

Geoffrey Clark. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Art & Design.

“My goal was to learn… (and) I learned, like, five different new (computer) programs just this semester to figure this thing out,” he says. “The thing is, my teachers, they wanted me to stick with what had been done, but I got them to come around.”

There’s also industrial design major Geoffrey Clark, who designed and built a one-of-a-kind machine that replicates an ancient form of fabric printing known as Batik.

Mariah Braddock will be receiving a communication design degree, and she started a philanthropic fashion company focused on female empowerment for her thesis.

Mariah Braddock models a t-shirt from her., the philanthropic fashion company she launched for her thesis project. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Art & Design.

“It’s the first opportunity to install an exhibit of their work, as opposed to just making a print or posting it online,” Grauert said. “It’s the vision of the next generation … (and) it’s unique to MIAD where every single graduating student gets to be part of the exhibit.”

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The Opening Reception is open to the public on April 20 from 5-9 p.m. as part of Gallery Night and Day in the Third Ward, during which many students will be present to discuss their work.

The exhibition will remain on display and open to the public until May 12 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays-Saturdays. Admission is free every day.

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