A Makeover Story on the Learning Channel to Feature Two UMass Amherst Graduate Art Students

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts art students Bryan Thomas and Mary Crawford are ready to trade in their paint- and plaster-stained flannel shirts and grungy jeans for the polished look of professional artists. To that end, they will be putting their faith in the fashion and style experts of The Learning Channel''s "A Makeover Story."

Thomas, 29, of Amherst, and Crawford, 37, of Greenfield, were chosen from thousands of applicants to be featured in an upcoming episode of the cable network program. Banyan Productions, the makers of "A Makeover Story," will spend Tues., Wed., and Thurs., April 23-25 in Western Massachusetts filming the transformation of the two art students for an episode to air in the fall. Thomas and Crawford will reveal their new looks for the first time at the reception for their final thesis exhibitions. The reception will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Thurs., April 25 at Herter Art Gallery at UMass.

"A Makeover Story" features makeovers of pairs of people who are ready to make a dramatic change in their appearance to coincide with a significant event in their lives. The 30-minute program airs weekdays at noon and 12:30 p.m./EST.

Shari Poland, associate producer of the program, said Thomas and Crawford were chosen because they are good candidates for a makeover and have a unique story. "They both have long hair, and Bryan has facial hair, so there is the potential for a dramatic change. Also, they''re interesting people with a good story. We''ve never featured an art exhibit at a gallery on the program." Poland said the program receives about 1,000 applications each week.

Thomasis using his experience on "A Makeover Story" as part of his final thesis project, which focuses on the role that the artist and audience play in art. "They will make me over based on their perception of what an artist is. I''ve kind of let myself go as a grad student for three years. I know I need a makeover, but I''m wondering what the professionals think an artist should look like," Thomas said.

Thomas and Crawford say their friendship developed over the course of the three years they have been in the master''s of fine arts program at UMass. They are good friends who have been a great support to each other, and often spend long days together in adjacent art studios in the Marshall Annex on campus. As they look forward to receiving their degrees in May, they say they are ready to move into the professional art world with a more polished appearance.

Crawford admits that, at first, she was a reluctant participant, and much more interested in completing her final exhibit - which involves large installations using materials such as honey, dirt, and lemons - but agrees she is the perfect candidate for a makeover. "I''ve never worn lipstick in my life. I haven''t had a haircut in two years. I think the transformation will be pretty amazing," Crawford said.

Thomas will be shopping at Taylor Men and Crawford will be shopping at Taylor Women, both in Northampton. Their hair, and Crawford''s makeup, will be styled at Puffers Salon and Day Spa in Westfield. Before and after pictures of the pair will be posted on The Learning Channel''s Web site once the show airs.

Bryan Thomas can be reached at 413/546-4517, and Mary Crawford can be reached at 413/774-5183, or they can be reached at the art studio at 413/545-3625.