Thesis Exhibition

Thesis Exhibition Guidelines

The BFA and MFA Thesis Exhibitions at Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts each demonstrate the artistic culmination of each student’s artistic work, experience, and program goals. These exhibitions demonstrate student excellence and professional potential, a high level of personal and social engagement, and faculty and peer mentorship. The School of Visual Arts is committed to the vital importance of the final Thesis Exhibition or appropriate professional experience for each major and graduate program in SVA. Planning for exhibiting work in the Boston University Art Galleries is a significant part of the senior BFA curriculum and an important aspect of professional development within each MFA program. Assessment of areas and the degree as a whole is primarily conducted through the faculty review of the Thesis Exhibition, which includes supporting materials such as thesis writing, books, and exhibition proposals. Students develop professional practice and skills through guided experience planning and working with professional staff in the Boston University Art Galleries. This partnership and shared professional practice document aims to prepare students and faculty for specific and important professional expectations for exhibiting in the Boston University Art Galleries. It is the hope of CFA that students will carry these best practices beyond their experience here. These best practices help to create a smooth and professional experience for students, staff, and faculty, both in the installation of work and presentation of thesis work to the larger community. The Thesis Exhibition allows students to consider and communicate to a wider audience and launch their engagement with the world as practicing artists and designers.

Exhibition dates and installation schedules will be decided by the Exhibitions Committee and will be available to students at the start of the spring semester.

Requirements and General Information

  1. Participation in the Thesis Exhibitions is required of all graduating MFA and BFA students in the School of Visual Arts.
  2. The BU Art Galleries has two spaces available for student exhibitions—the 808 Gallery and The Faye G. Jo and James Stone Gallery. Exhibition space is chosen by the Director of the School of Visual Arts with consultation from the Directors of the BU Art Galleries. Space selection depends on the exhibition’s size and limitations of each show.
  3. All exhibition deadlines must be met. Failure to meet a scheduled deadline may result in forfeiture of your exhibition space and will reflect on a student’s final grade. Deadlines are given to students at the beginning of the fall semester and can be found on the School of Visual Arts website as well as the BU Art Galleries website.
  4. Each student exhibiting is required to submit a proposal by the deadlines given by the committee. The Exhibition Proposal form will be distributed by the exhibition thesis advisor at the beginning of the fall semester.
  5. The thesis advisor will create a gallery layout and assign each artist the appropriate amount of space. Students will work with clear guidelines from SVA Exhibitions Committee, SVA staff, and the branding team from Graphic Design to provide necessary supporting material on deadline for labels, PR, and a catalog. SVA Exhibitions Committee will create and approve exhibition text and consult with the Graphic Design student team about exhibition branding and collateral. SVA staff will plan opening reception.
  6. Exhibition installation must be complete by the deadlines given by the committee. There will be no exceptions to this rule. The exhibition dates and opening receptions are arranged by the Director of the School of Visual Arts and the BU Art Galleries Director.
  7. All qualified students are invited to exhibit in the gallery, but it is not a guarantee. Exhibitions can be canceled due to force majeure or unbecoming behavior by a student.

Exhibition Spaces

The BU Art Galleries comprises two separate galleries—the 808 Gallery and the Faye G. Jo and James Stone Gallery. These galleries are managed by the Managing Director, Lissa Cramer. The BU Art Galleries adheres to the American Alliance of Museums Standards and Best Practices Guidelines. These guidelines enable the gallery to make the most ethical and consistent decisions when it comes to caring for and exhibiting artwork. The gallery holds all artists to the same standards and expectations while installing in the gallery. Information on AAM Standards and Best Practices can be found here.

Exhibition Rules and Regulations

  1. During installation, students will have access to the gallery at designated times. Students are not allowed in the gallery space alone. A BU staff member must be present at all times during installation.
  2. Students are responsible for installing their own work. Gallery staff and School of Visual Arts staff will be on hand to assist students as needed.
  3. Students may only install within the space they were assigned.
  4. Artwork must be finished, dry or fixed with a fixative and ready to hang or install.
  5. Students are required to submit proposals before installation. These proposals must be approved by gallery staff before the installation. This will prevent the use of unauthorized materials or procedures within the gallery. The gallery prohibits:
    • The use of super glues, hot glues, and any adhesive that leaves a residue on the walls.
    • Students cannot use spray paint or spray adhesive in the gallery.
    • No artwork or artwork supports can be attached, hung, or anchored to light fixtures, sprinkler systems, overhead pipes, or architectural feature. This includes attaching by adhesives of any kind.
    • No baseboards, room moldings, natural wood floors, cork floors, or permanent architectural features in any BU building may be altered in any way; no paint or adhesives may be used on them.
    • No painting or drilling into the floor.
    • No fire, fireworks, blood, urine, feces, bodily fluids, weapons, explosives, chemicals, or other hazardous materials may be used in the exhibition. Any activity that has potential to cause injury to the artist or others is not permitted.
    • Proposals that utilize materials that may be potentially harmful, including but not limited to plant material, live animals, liquids, water, or soil, must be reviewed by the gallery’s Managing Director whose decision will be final.
  6. Any wall painting must be approved in the proposal process. Students must prime and paint the wall to its original color at the end of the exhibition.
  7. It is strongly recommended that students start any printing projects in advance. The printer is very busy at the end of the semester and can delay installation. No exceptions will be made for students who miss the installation deadline.
  8. Students may borrow designated gallery tools and supplies during installation. These tools include: hammer, drill, drop cloth, paint brushes, paint tray, putty knife, level, ladder, extension cords, and tape. All tools are expected to be returned in the excellent condition in which they were borrowed.
  9. The BU Art Galleries and the School of Visual Arts have a limited inventory of pedestals, shelves, vitrines, and plinths. These must be requested a full month before the exhibition. Students are required to deliver the pedestals back to storage at the end of the exhibition.
    • For a list of exhibition pedestals contact Gus Wheeler or Lissa Cramer.
    • Pedestals are limited to one per person. Any additional pedestals needed will need to be discussed with Lissa and Gus.
  10. The BU Art Galleries and the School of Visual Arts have a limited supply of AV equipment. After review of all proposals, students will be able to reserve tech equipment such as monitors, media players, and projectors.
    • Monitors and media players are reserved through the BU Art Galleries. Students are required to fill out a loan form.
    • Projectors are reserved through Brandon Cohen.
  11. AV equipment must be returned by the student in the same condition it was received, promptly after the end of the de-installation period.

VERY IMPORTANT – Painting equipment and tools are to be shared. Wash each tool after each use.

  1. All artwork must be de-installed by the student and removed from the buildings by the given deadline. A failure to de-install by the deadline is serious and likely to have an impact on the thesis grade. Students should always keep in mind that the thesis exhibition is a professional launch. Unprofessional behavior has an impact on future references and opportunities as well as being disrespectful to staff and faculty time and the privilege of professional-level gallery resources.
  2. No artwork may be stored in the BU Art Galleries at the conclusion of the exhibition. Artwork left in the gallery will be disposed of and as above may impact final grade and overall assessment of student.
  3. Each student is responsible for returning their exhibition space as they found it. Clean the entire space including repainting walls, refilling, sanding and painting holes, and sweeping the floor. Significant clean-up or damage charges will be the responsibility of the student to be paid prior to graduation from SVA.

Mindful Tips for Students

  1. Be thoughtful about the environment when choosing materials for installation. Instead of throwing away items, think of ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle.
  2. The University’s garbage bins fill up quickly during end-of-year clean-out. Dumpsters cannot be emptied if they are overflowing with garbage. If a dumpster is 3/4 full, please wait to discard your garbage until after the dumpster has been emptied.
  3. Although installation is a fun time, it is against BU policy to bring alcohol in the art gallery.
  4. The College of Fine Arts staff and faculty are here to help you. If you have a question or need some help, be sure to ask!
  5. End of semester and thesis installation can be a hectic and stressful time. Be sure to be kind to those around you. Relationships should be held in the highest priority as you prepare for your future practice. The College of Fine Arts staff and faculty are here to support and encourage each student. Simple “please” and “thank you” can go a long way for everyone.