NEXT 2018 Featured Students


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Held every spring, NEXT is a dynamic, interactive and innovative end-of-year show that gives D.C.’s art community the opportunity to see the latest in contemporary art from fresh perspectives. Visitors have the opportunity to observe thesis critiques and discussions between students in the fields of studio arts, art history, interior architecture, design, dance, theatre, music and museum studies and faculty, while students are able to build connections with potential employers and art dealers. 

2018 NEXT Opening Reception

Thursday, April 26, 2018, from 6:30 - 9:00 PM
Corcoran School of the Arts & Design
Flagg Building
500 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Light hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be served. 
Guests will receive two complimentary drink tickets. 

Exhibition can be viewed April 26 through May 20
Tuesday through Friday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 1:00 - 6:00 PM

Featured Students & Student Work

While all of our thesis students have been doing amazing work, one student was nominated from each program to represent their cohort. The following are the nominated star students and some information about them and their work:



Exhibition Design, MA: Yunwen Zhu

Yunwen Zhu has been working as a designer on various exhibits at Howard + Revis Design Services since June 2017. Before that, she was a design intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and previously was the graphic design lead at a print company in Canada. Yunwen was attracted to the exhibition design field by innovative exhibitions and her desire to create a unique experience for diverse audiences through her expertise in 2D, 3D, and sketching. She grew up in China and spent seven years in Canada for school and work before came to the U.S.. Travel is her favorite hobby, allowing her to see exhibitions around the world. With her international background and diverse experiences, Yunwen can explore design thinking in a broader cultural perspective.

Her thesis exhibition, Journey to A Forgotten Place, features a submerged City Shicheng from China. It tells a story of an unfamiliar place/event in the past that is no longer accessible to the public yet will be made available through exhibition design. The goals of this exhibition are to bring visitors on a journey to learn about this forgotten place, to be in awe of the beauty of the sunken city and to evoke their feelings and memories of a past life.

Below are some photos of her work:


sketch of yunwen's work


rendering from yunwen's thesis


photo from yunwen's thesis




Fine Art, BFA: Case Baumgarten photo of case working on his thesis

Case Baumgarten works primarily with the human figure, both in 2D drawings and paintings, as well as 3D sculptures. The majority of his work deals with large realistic renderings of the human body, while still exploring and exposing the color, space, and shapes that are depicted in his paintings. In this sense, he creates an unsure conversation between what is real and what is abstract.

His Moon Daisies thesis series aims to relay some of the recurring struggles of specific homeless individuals whom he has shared thoughts with. He explains that he is not trying to solve the global problem of homelessness, but instead, wants to force attention towards the issue through the measures of creativity. His focus is on the juxtaposition of ways our society views the homeless and those in plight, loss, or in turmoil. As a collective, we have to realize that this problem is systemic in our nature as society.




Fine Art, MFA: Laylaa Randera

photo of laylaa in front of her photosLaylaa Randera’s artwork takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues. She is interested in the way the archive, myth, iconography and symbolism relate to the contemporary world. She turns a lens on the unseen side, exploring notions of visibility and invisibility, as well as tropes of gender and race, aiming to subvert and obscure the “status quo”. While her themes and subject matter are diverse, her focus is largely geared towards contemporary social disturbances - from protests and rallies to underground music events. As a native of South Africa, she looks for ways to bring its social climate into a global dialogue.

Her master’s thesis explores how protest movements form and deteriorate, how the culture of resistance spreads across nations. She looks at how participants, activists, and advocates interact and respond through gesture and expression, as well as how the opposites - censoring, disenfranchisement, exploitation, commodification - are signified and negotiated over history. By using everyday materials, such as cardboard, to replicate canonical high-brow artwork, which helps her to think about the degradation of things and elude to the immediate, urgent creation of protest apparatus. Themes of memory and remembrance become essential to the trajectory of culture, and the uncertainty of how long it will last.

Below is an image of some of her cardboard artworks:

photo of cardboard works



photo of michaelangelo working on his thesisFine Art Photography, BFA: MichaelAngelo Rodriguez 

MichaelAngelo Rodriguez is a photographer with an AA in Photography from Tidewater Community College, who employs strategies of time and light to express retrospetion and displacement prompted by the catalyst of familial geographic separation. In 2017, he was invited by Mel Chin to be a studio assistant intern during the preparation for his 2018 show All Over the Place at the Queens Museum, Queens, NY. He has participated in regional group shows in venues such as Push Gallery in Asheville, NC and The George Washington University’s Gallery 102. Formerly a resident of Norfolk, VA, he currently lives in Washington, DC.

His series, Fiebre del Paraíso/Fever of Paradise, is a collection of images shot while traveling in a car. The road is an in-between space. As he transitions through these landscapes, he is often nostalgic and contemplative, recounting memories. These photographs are an expression of emotions brought on by traveling with the hopes of connecting the viewer to the artist’s transitional state of mind. Travel provokes meditation, as you watch the lane markers or landscape pass by, while emotions emerge out of the meditative state induced by this visual experience.





Graphic Design, BFA: Kimberly Graydonphoto of kimberly working

Kimberly Graydon was born in El Paso, Texas in 1995, grew up in Flower Mound, Texas, and moved to Washington, D.C. for college. Originally she planned on pursuing an education in photojournalism, but fell in love with graphic design instead. Beginning in the summer of 2015, she double-interned for BraveUX, where she developed a passion for user experience and interface design. In 2016, she participated in the Paul Shatz Exchange Fellowship Program, where she visually documented Jerusalem through the concept of borders and cultural divides. She currently works for Spaeth Hill. 

Her thesis work focuses on designing user interfaces for gender inclusion, utilizing user research on gender identity and looking at the internet through a feminist lens. Upon graduation, Kimberly plans on staying and working in Washington, D.C.



Here are some photos of her designs:

photo of kimberly's thesis design


photo of kimberly's thesis design




Interior Architecture, BFA: Shannon TurnerShannon Turner sitting amongst her designs

Although she grew up in Texas, Shannon Turner spent most of her summer months in downtown Philadelphia. This early exposure to city life brought her to DC as an Interior Architecture student. 

For her capstone project, Shannon is designing an observatory, dedicated to the hard work and perseverance of the late Stephen Hawking. Her space focuses on creating an equally immersive location for professional scientists and school-aged children to research and learn about the cosmos. Upon entering the building, visitors are thrown into a completely different universe, producing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She pulls the ethereal qualities from outer space down to Earth, for everyone to discover and enjoy. 







Interior Architecture, MFA: Laurel Ganemphoto of laurel working

Laurel Ganem is an imaginative and hardworking designer with a passion for the creative process. Born and raised just outside of Boston, MA, Laurel decided to pursue her Master’s after working as an Employee Engagement Specialist. In charge of creating and implementing programs that would increase the happiness and productivity of her coworkers, this position revealed the vital role that physical space plays in people’s wellbeing. In combination with a lifelong interest in architecture, GW’s Interior Architecture program was a natural next step. Outside of school, Laurel loves to cook, play soccer, and listen to live music.






New Media Photojournalism, MA: Maria Luz Bravo

Maria Luz Bravo is a Mexican architect and photographer. Her body of work revolves on the use of space, both urban and architectural in the contemporary urban landscape to highlight major social phenomena, focusing primarily on cities in conflict, political boundaries and community resilience.

She has photographed the effects of violence in Ciudad Juarez, the social landscape of the political boundaries of Mexico City. In the U.S. she has focused in documenting urban decline and racial and socio-economic contrasts. Her thesis, The DC Quadrants Project, explores the effects of long term disinvestment and sudden development in Washington DC through the framework of the city’s quadrant system.

Below are some photos from her thesis exhibition:


photo of maria's work


photo of maria's work


photo of maria's work




Photojournalism, BFA: Eric Dietrich

Eric Dietrich grew up in Massachusetts, lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman. He is currently a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, the senior enlisted leader of a combat camera unit. His thesis, Fifty Cents a Paycheck, focuses on the Armed Forces Retirement Home, which he first encountered in 2001 while serving in the U.S. Marines. He noticed a 50-cent paystub deduction listed as “AFRH.” Someone said it was for a military retirement home, and he didn’t think of it for the next 16 years, until he made the connection again in 2017. He realized that as a veteran, he could be living there someday and asked himself the question, "What is life at the residence like?" In answer to that question, he found a place that’s an example of caring for veterans done right. Founded in 1851 as the U.S. Soldiers’ Home, in 1991 it was consolidated with the U.S. Naval Home in Gulfport, Mississippi to become the AFRH. The Washington facility houses around 400 residents from all five armed forces branches, with most residents being active-duty enlisted retirees. Others are combat or service-disabled, or women who served shorter periods prior to 1948. The facility offers several levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory support and long-term care.

Here are some photographs from his thesis show:


one of Eric's photos from his thesis


one of Eric's photos from his thesis


one of Eric's photos from his thesis




Production Design, MFA: Kelvin Small

Kelvin Small is a 3rd year production design MFA candidate from Norfolk, VA. He is regularly described as a superstar, working hands on to create detailed costumes. Previous costume designs include Clybourne Park, DanceWorks Spring 2017 (GW), and Discord (Washington Stage Guild).

Below, on the left, is a photo of Kelvin working on a piece, and the two photos on the right are two of his costume designs on stage.


photo of kelvin working


photo of kelvin's work


photo of kelvin's work




Special Performance

During the NEXT exhibition, there will be a unique multimedia dance thesis performance entitled Go! The piece is senior Dance BFA Linda Ryan's Honor's Thesis and also includes cast members Trevor Frantz and Emily Ritter.


Linda Ryan dances with other performers

Performance Details:


Friday, May 4 at 7pm and Saturday, May 5 at 5pm


Flagg Building Rotunda, 500 17th St NW, Washington, D.C.


Go! is a multimedia dance piece that incorporates GoPro action cameras into the choreography. Audience members can watch the performance in-person or they can tune in to the live video feed from a camera strapped to one of the dancers bodies-- or even a combination of the two. The two simultaneous performances-- one physical, one virtual-- confront the viewer with questions about perception, reality, and the veracity of the online world. What happens when a physical artform like dance is forced into a virtual environment? What does it mean to put moving bodies into digital world where having a body is irrelevant? In many ways, dancing with the camera is more intimate than dancing with another person is. The piece grapples with the possibility that watching the livestream is more "real" than watching the dance in "real life".


FREE; Patrons attending on Friday May 4, 2018 will be admitted through the New York Avenue entrance after 6:30 pm; Patrons on Saturday can enter through the front door.



Home, Senior Thesis by Quincy Mata (Fine Art, B.F.A.)

Quincy Mata is a queer artist of color, who formerly served as a U.S. Navy Corpsman in Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom IV. He works mostly through digital medium under the belief that transformation is a concept that every artist must face, whether it is a blank canvas transformed into a majestic landscape, or a slab of marble carved into a life-like portrait. He is interested in the transforming capacity which art has on the human mind. He wants viewers to question what they believe they know by completely transforming that idea in front of them. The approach he takes in his art is to open up the viewer’s mind, to make them realize that just because you conceive one thing to be true, it might not be the same truth for others. Through this, he hopes to bring about a social change, especially in the way in which we interact with ourselves and others as a society. He aims to bring about a mutual understanding that we can all live with, so that we can be free from prejudice and intolerance.

Home is a digital graphic novel chronicling the stories of a diverse group of people from the LGBTQ community. They come together on the night of the Pride Fashion Drag show, celebrating the accomplishments of their close friend, a Drag Queen fashion designer. Gay clubs symbolize a safe space of refuge for many in the community. They are a place to connect with those whom have at times felt rejected by the outside world; a true Home is one in which you can feel safe to be yourself. This work is inspired by the tragic Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 that brutally ended the lives of 49 people. The souls lost that night were celebrating their lives together as one community, in love and acceptance. Their lives may have ended that night, but their stories and legacies live on through the rest of us. Any time we come together in a place to celebrate, we celebrate their lives as well. For detailed summaries of the stories told in the graphic novel, please visit The Pride Guys website.

Images from the graphic novel:

three men at a nightclub greet each other


reverlers drink and coverse at a pride party