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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Student Profile: Alexandra Morrissette

University of Dayton senior Alexandra Morrissette is being recognized for her abstract paintings, which department of art and design chair Judith Huacuja described as "visually striking, quite large and bold." Morrissette, a fine arts major from Pittsburgh, has been honored with the Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Ohio. She will receive the award in late March and also is a finalist for the Grand Award.

How did it feel to win the AICUO Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts and land a finalist spot for the Grand Award?

It was a great opportunity to be one of the artists representing Ohio. With only 35 students being nominated for the award, I was honored to be considered a nominee. To get that phone call saying I was one of the six finalists for the Grand Award was an exciting moment. It gave me more confidence. Having moments like this just reassures my passion and drive for it.

How do you believe the AICUO award will benefit your career in the future?

The exposure my art will receive will definitely help further my career. Compiling my portfolio, artist statement and video for the award also taught me a lot about my work itself and made me more comfortable explaining my process, which is important.

Who inspires your art?

The two artists I really look to are American painter Cy Twombly and German painter Anselm Kiefer. Both artists are very abstract, but Kiefer puts a lot of materials in his work; it is dense and thick. Twombly is physically thin but conceptually thick. There is a lot of emotion behind his work within his mark making. I gravitate towards Kiefer’s dense materials and and Twombly’s marks.

What inspires your art?

I usually just draw from emotion and I react to every mark I make, so it is very intuitive process that represents a visual language throughout the canvas. My pieces are more about movement and energy.

What is your artistic process?

I start off with a thin layer of paint and build it up with charcoal, oil paints and/or acrylic house paints. I incorporate materials like my painting gloves and rags to give it density. There is a lot of building up and tearing back down of these materials to represent the history of painting. I also use a limited color palette to represent the emotional quality behind my work. My paintings are very expressive so I believe the blue creates that deep connection.

Is there one art movement in particular that reflects in your work?

Abstract expressionist movement.

What was it like the first time you saw one of your pieces displayed in a gallery?

It gave me more motivation to make more. It has a different feeling to it when it is outside of the studio being displayed in an all-white room. It made me want to do more and push bigger. It was definitely a unique experience.

How has the department of art and design benefitted you during your time at UD?

My professors are always willing to help and I’ve definitely benefitted from their encouragement. Their support has allowed me to push my ideas further and feel comfortable exploring new possibilities within my work, while not being afraid to fail. I feel very fortunate to have had their help during my time a UD and especially while applying to grad school.

What is one key thing you are looking for in a master’s of fine arts program?

I really want an extensive exploration of my work and i also hope to work with professors who create work that I love.

After graduate school, what type of career do you wish to pursue?

My end goal is to have shows. I am not opposed to teaching, but I definitely want my work out there. Right now, I just want to focus on producing a huge body of work and gaining exposure.

- Dawnn Fann '19

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