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BFA in Studio Art - Class of 2021

Message from the Undergraduate Program Director

Okay, I admit it. Living through a global pandemic and wading through the daily deluges of social media self-help, the word resilience has become such a buzzword, that some people might even roll their eyes at the very utterance of the term. But it deserves saying, that in this time of pandemic and crisis, there is no greater link between concepts so present in our artistic lives than that between creativity and resilience. 

In almost all other disciplines, conventions remain static and concrete. Art and design thrives and grows in the spaces of ambiguity. At its best, resiliency in the practice of art, as well as in life, amounts to adaptation and flexibility. It is the awareness to reshape ourselves and our environment in response to the certainty of change. This is the very definition of what it means to make art. We know this. This is what we practice everyday.

In art, we create something where before there was nothing. We befriend tools and materials that have their own behaviors, and we put the time in to understand and work with them. We experiment with constraints. We court failure. We navigate our shifting senses and sensibilities. We build our capacities to not only discover important questions but to also pursue great risks. All of these qualities are not only at the core of art—but can be said of courage.

You, current and future graduates, have shown the courage to be resilient through one of the most challenging eras of recent history. You did so by drawing on the creativity and artistry you practiced here in the studio at UMass Amherst and the many places beyond the familiar spaces of campus (and of course, life on Zoom). You showed resilience through your dedication to deep listening, close looking, critical thinking, community building, and the brilliant transformation of the materials and situations around you. 

Artists and designers have an almost magical way of making new ideas, cultures, and worlds possible, even when all else seems lost. To you, obstacles became the opportunities that inspire us all to get up and try again.

I am honored to witness this cohort remind our artistic community, and our world, what is possible in the face of great challenges. 

Keep taking risks. Keep making art. Keep designing the world anew.


Jeff Kasper
Assistant Professor
Undergraduate Program Director
Department of Art

Please congratulate our Departamental Collection Award winner:

Lydia Giangregorio

Class of 2021

BFA Studio Art - Intermedia, BS Neuroscience

Inspired by my neuroscience background, I have created a body of works that represents my journey through science as an artist, a student, and a woman. I use the beautiful, strange world of microbiology to create worlds of funky, surreal art rendered in vibrant colors. My goal was to foster interest in science as an experience. My notebooks and diagrams have become the foundation that my thesis has grown from; all of my art pieces have stemmed from my notes and my involvement in the scientific world.

BFA Studio Art - Intermedia, Minors in Art History and Anthropology

Sophia DeStefano, born in 1998, grew up in a sleepy costal town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Whether working in photography, digital art, printmaking, or paper-making, DeStefano uses monochrome color palettes to emphasize forms of memory and how the human condition is altered in the digital age. Often, drawing from personal experiences, her work is centered around disability culture or beckoning to places where she has traveled. Graduating from UMass with a degree in Studio Arts and minors in Art History and Anthropology, she aims to evolve her ideas and apply them to the ever changing social scene.

BFA Studio Art - Ceramics, Minors in Psychology and Art History

BFA Studio Art - Painting, Minor in Art History

BFA Studio Art - Painting, Commonwealth Honors College

BFA Studio Art - Painting, Minor in Art History

Dani Hebert grew up in eastern Massachusetts surrounded by art and music. She has been painting since age eleven and has made art her career. She is interested in abstract and nonrepresentational works and relies heavily on color and color theory in her practice. Hebert aims to be both a working abstract artist and to work in art museums where she can use both her practical art knowledge and her art history knowledge in tandem.

BFA Studio Art - Painting, Minor in Art History

Jessica Jiao was born in Saipan, Northern Mariana Island, in 1999. She spent her childhood in China, then moved to Gainesville, Florida. Because of the influence of her high school teacher, Jiao has the encouragement to follow her passion. Jiao is majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting and a Minor in Art History. She works primarily with oil and acrylic paints but also does works in ceramics and other mediums.

BFA Studio Art - Painting, Minor in Art History

"My goal as an artist is always to evoke an emotional reaction within my viewer. My work is intimate by design, invoking the individual to allow themselves to take a break from the clutter of everyday life and feel. Success is when my viewer cannot describe their emotions easily, when I have evoked something beyond words. Color, movement, and my own emotions are my three greatest tools in this aim, regardless of media." - Sayde Mayes

BFA Studio Art - Sculpture, Minor in Art History

Daley Miller (Grafton, MA) is a Studio Art Major with a concentration in Sculpture. She explores sustainability and waste-free art through her use of natural and recycled materials. Her works are process-based and are guided by the pasts and futures of the materials she uses. In her art and in her life, Miller intertwines farming and outdoor living with crafting and creative work.

BFA - Studio Art - Intermedia, BA Film Studies

Patrick Summers (Andover, MA) is a double major in Studio Arts and Film Studies. His current works are focused on creating monolithic, atmospheric and light based works as conduits for connection between and with other people. His short film ‘Pennies’ won Jury’s Choice at the 2020 Five College Film Fest, has has work/interviews featured in Downtown500 and Fangz Magazines, as well Perime Art Gallery in Boston.