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### Eckerd College Student’s First Senior Art Thesis Exhibition Inspired by Study Abroad

Senior Jupiter McLean is showcased next to one of his lino prints during his senior exhibition at Cobb Gallery. Images courtesy of Jupiter McLean ’24

This semester, Eckerd College’s Main, Elliott, and Cobb galleries will feature a multitude of student works as senior thesis exhibitions kick off for various majors.

The inaugural senior exhibition, titled Sad Boi; Pretty Tears, by Jupiter McLean, adorned Cobb Gallery from February 11 to 16, marking the commencement of 24 senior showcases. Hailing from Alpharetta, Georgia, Jupiter, a senior visual arts student, specializes in illustration and manga sequential art.

His exhibition encompassed a diverse range of mediums, including lino prints, paintings, and doll sculptures crafted from fabric remnants. Sad Boi; Pretty Tears delves into themes of trans joy, fashion, and culture.

During high school, Jupiter made the decision to pursue art at the collegiate level and began applying to art institutions nationwide. A postcard from Eckerd College piqued his interest, leading him to visit the campus for the first time in November 2019, portfolio in hand. Faculty members from the Art Department attentively reviewed his portfolio, engaging in discussions about his collegiate aspirations. Later during the visit, Jupiter and his mother were guided by Professor [ppp1] on a tour of the Main Gallery.

Reflecting on that memorable day in the gallery, Jupiter fondly recalls, “My mom still talks about that day.”

A depiction of one of McLean’s doll sculptures crafted from fabric scraps

In a matter of months post his initial visit, Jupiter officially enrolled at Eckerd College, declaring visual arts as his major, with Professor [ppp1] assuming the role of his mentor, significantly influencing Jupiter’s artistic journey. Known for his unwavering support for each artist’s unique style, Skinner fosters an environment that encourages creative expression devoid of judgment.

“He meets you where you are,” Jupiter remarks, “and provides the freedom to express creatively without constraints.”

Jupiter expresses gratitude for the resources and encouragement extended by Eckerd’s faculty. A few years back, Skinner presented Jupiter with an opportunity to participate in a printmaking workshop in downtown St. Petersburg. Upon learning about the steep entry fee, Jupiter voiced his financial concerns to Skinner, who promptly secured funding to sponsor his workshop attendance. This local community connection enabled Jupiter to delve into collage as an art form.

Describing Eckerd’s Visual Arts program as conducive to exploration, Jupiter notes, “There’s room for experimentation. I’ve had the chance to hone my skills while establishing an emotional connection with my art.”

His sojourn in Japan in the spring of 2023 served as a wellspring of inspiration for his senior thesis exhibition. To fulfill the final requirement for his Japanese minor, Jupiter harbored aspirations of studying abroad. His fascination with Japan stemmed from a childhood affinity for Lego Ninjago play sets. Following consultations with Eckerd’s Global Education staff, he opted for a direct exchange program at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan.

“I took courses in manga, Japanese art history, and the Japanese language,” he recounts. “I relished the experience of using public transportation, and the art supply stores were phenomenal!”

Professor wearing argyle sweater and glasses

Professor of Visual Arts Arthur Skinner ’72

Immersing himself in a novel milieu felt akin to a fresh start for Jupiter. While he possessed a basic grasp of the language for navigation, nuances in elements like advertisements and media beyond the classroom realm eluded him. The absence of this media saturation afforded him the space for introspection.

“It allowed me to perceive myself in a new light,” he shares. “Japan was the pinnacle of my Eckerd journey.”

The realm of fashion in Japan, particularly kitsuke, traditional kimono attire, significantly influenced his senior exhibition. Upon his return to the United States, he lugged a 20-pound duffel bag brimming with kimonos through the airport.

Post-graduation, Jupiter aspires to vend his art at local markets and artist alleys during anime conventions, with hopes of charting a course back to Japan.

Skinner underscores the senior thesis exhibition as “the culmination of one’s endeavors as a visual arts major.” Artists curate a cohesive body of work that mirrors their evolution and maturation, which is then showcased in a gallery setting. Acquiring the skills to professionally present their work can pave the way for exploring diverse exhibition avenues—be it local, regional, national, or international—goals that Jupiter fervently harbors.

“Regardless of the career trajectory our seniors opt for,” Skinner remarks, “that inaugural solo exhibition marks a pivotal juncture in their creative odyssey.”

Explore the lineup of senior thesis exhibitions slated for this spring.