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Online Graduate Student’s Thesis Work Featured in Houston Area Solo Art Show

Ann Johnson’s quest for an online graduate degree in Printmaking from the Academy of Art University is almost as compelling as the end result of her MFA journey - her moving thesis work currently featured at the John B. Coleman Library Art Gallery in Prairie View, TX.

A true inspiration to anyone looking to achieve a graduate degree while maintaining a full time job, Anne graduated in Spring 2008. She left the Academy’s online graduate degree program with an amazing portfolio of work that reflects her deep desire to understand who she is. All this with the convenience of working in her home studio or on the go at any hour of the day.

Her thesis work, titled It is the Not Knowing that Burns My Soul: The Odyssey of Miss Emma Jean, is an exploration of the life of her paternal great grandmother, Emma Jean Henderson Coleman Hurt Mathis. The pieces examine what Ann knows about Emma Jean and emphasize what she does not.

“It is the not knowing that triggered my creativity,” she said. “It is the not knowing that burns my soul. This is the story of my identity through the story of Miss Emma Jean.”

Though Ann was originally accepted in the online graduate program for sculpture, she opted to take printmaking courses instead. Ann credits Academy of Art University Instructor Sarah Barsness with helping her develop the core of her thesis.

Creating such intricate and involved pieces for an MFA thesis seems like a daunting if not impossible task to undertake online, but Ann says it was better than traditional classes in many ways.

“The experience was amazing. The Academy is highly accredited and the organization and class content were wonderful. There’s a lot of instruction, discussion and feedback, and the instructors respond to you very quickly. We also got a lot of review attention,” said Ann.

The Academy of Art University’s online graduate degree program also gave Ann, a university teacher, the freedom to continue working.
 
“There were local graduate programs that I could have gone to, but they wouldn’t have allowed me to continue working full time,” she said. “But it wasn’t easy. You’re constantly producing work to meet deadlines.”

In addition to her show at the John B. Coleman Library Art Gallery, Ann has a piece in the Houston Collects: African Am erican Art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

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