Ground Zero: 2020 BFA Senior Show


Ground Zero is a virtual exhibition of artwork by 15 Iowa State University students who will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in integrated studio arts in May, August or December 2020. Each graduating senior submitted up to five works that best represent their time in the degree program.

The students completed the ART IS 499: Senior Seminar/Exhibition course taught by Jennifer Drinkwater, assistant professor of art and visual culture. Participants include James Casad, Naomi Chicoine, Hunter Crannell, Courtney Cooley, Walt Davis, Bonnie Dowd, Breanna Engelhardt, Camille Gatapia, Darya Geary, Emma Geis, DJ Jones, Savannah Kellis, Makilyn Koep, Carrie McGrean and Monika Wiley.

James Casad

I seek to confront the viewer with
the nature of existence, and for
them not to just see or intellectually
understand, but to feel.

I want you to feel the
fragility of the body, feel
the inevitability of death, feel the
meaninglessness of life, feel the
horror of reality.

Naomi Chicoine

The metal and ceramic artworks I make are primarily toys or wearables, items that are meant to be held close both emotionally and physically by those who come to know them. Because of the intimate relationship between object and owner, I can explore the impact of highly valued items on the expression of identity.

Hunter Crannell

I create works of art to give people insight into different perspectives and emotions, as well as to help people going through different difficult times in their lives.

Courtney Cooley

I create using painting and textiles because I find them to be the most dynamic and expressive way to display and convey my purpose. In a world that often bleak and downtrodden, with only glimpses of light, I inject the moments of brightness and hope shining through. My use of light colors and topics mimic the joy and lightness found in my laugh.”

Walt Davis

My goal as an artist is to communicate the emotions that I feel to my viewers in a way that helps them relate with my work. I enjoy creating functional pieces of furniture and jewelry that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting to interact with my craftsmanship. Seeing my work being used on a day to day basis is what keeps me creating and pushes me to learn new techniques.

Bonnie Dowd

My work emerges from three codependent pillars: narrative, characterization, and composition. Each of them feeds into each other, and every other choice in my work, from colors to media, is made based on them. Clean linework and clear color contrasts tend to serve my purposes best.

Breanna Engelhardt

I primarily work in clay as well as metal. I am inspired by patterns and textures primarily derived from the Victorian Style. Much of my values in what I do stems from ideas and objects passed down to me from my family. I enjoy art nouveau forms and ideas with smooth curves and additions from the past. I really enjoy reflection of form whether that be implied or as an illusion. I work to achieve functionality as well as beauty that conveys a serene and tranquil feeling.

Camille Gatapia

I aim to reveal the collision of human experiences through conceptual pieces that examine vulnerability and relationships. My inspiration comes from the impact gratitude has on feelings such as loneliness and belonging. Spending four months in Rome instilled within me a desire to capture daily life and reframe it in a way to behold ordinary beauty as extraordinary. The human form is a repeated symbol within my work, often represented nakedly to echo the themes of vulnerability. I find myself continuously using the human figure as a motif as I discover new ways to depict messages through the body. It is through painting, drawing, and videos that I work to convey these intricacies of humanity.

Darya Geary

Using paint and textile techniques, I layer images, patterns, or text upon one another. The dimensions of my pieces represent the personality and identity of myself, as well as others. We often can’t know or understand everything about someone just by looking at the surface. Just because someone may seem calm, quiet and collected; what’s going on inside their heads may be the complete opposite. My work is busy and complex just like us. The viewer can never see or grasp it all, but it is just a way to start a conversation that allows people to see, learn about, comprehend, and connect with something new.

Emma Geis

Art and storytelling are one in the same to me, I treat my visual art as visual storytelling, sometimes depicting a singular moments from a fictional narrative all the way to showcasing an entire storyline of my own personal experiences. I complete this work in both metals and illustrations.

DJ Jones

As I’ve gotten older my work has centered itself around the themes of home, nostalgia, and the familiar in a world that feels like it has become increasingly unfamiliar.  Through various printmaking techniques, painting, and embroidery, I look to my memories to connect with the past, while also sharing my experience of the present through the lens of Black Womxnhood.

Savannah Kellis

I use painting and photography to make bold statements about important topics. I sometimes do this in a comical way, and sometimes in a very serious way. My work discusses sex and nudity, kinks, mental illness, substance use, consent, and relationships. I talk about these things because I want to raise awareness to them and the issues that go along with them, while also attempting to normalize them and eliminate the shame often associated with them.

Makilyn Koep

Creating art is liberating to the mind – a way for me to explore my natural thought process. My work addresses the interaction between nature and human culture. I reuse discarded items from our consumeristic culture to help express the reality of this interaction and to give these found items a full-circle of life.

Carrie McGrean

As an artist, I work with painting and photography to show others the unexpected and the unknown in the world and the recesses of my mind. My paintings often aim to speak to others about mental illness and the struggles I have personally battled with, while I use photography to explore my fascination for the horrifying and paranormal mostly, though I sometimes experiment with trying to portray mental disorders that others may be grappling with through photographs and to render the emotions that come with them. I have started to experiment with painting in inverted color to show the distortion of reality mental illness causes. We must learn to express our concerns about mental illness and start conversations to end the stigma, this is me doing my part.

Monika Wiley

Whether it is a thick application of paint or a wash of tinted water, my artwork radiates beauty and femininity in the world. I focus on food, nature, and the female body. Oil paint and watercolors allow me to layer and build colors. Texture, color, and naturalism are factors that I value. Valuing the marks of the brush in every painting reminds viewers that this is paint, as my paintings lean towards naturalism.