Jess Mrugala is a senior from South Windsor, Connecticut, currently working on her senior thesis project in painting. Her initial interest and exploration in acrylic paints began in early high school, and has since transitioned into a focus in oil paints combined with less conventional materials. The theme of her thesis is “based around this conscious and subconscious manipulation of different materials and experimentation with those materials.” In direct communication with her abstract expressionist influences (specifically, Joan Mitchell and Mark Rothko), Jess Mrugala’s senior thesis deals with the subconscious and the breaks free from the limitations of representational painting.
Her paintings embrace a vast array of colors and materials (ranging from traditional oil paints to not-so-traditional gelatin) to depict the wildly chaotic nature of human thought. Because her content is so rooted in what is felt as opposed to what is seen, process is a major aspect of the paintings. Mrugala states that her process revolves around “tapping into [my] subconscious and exploring my materials and what this sort of zen-like subconscious can create, and then coming back into consciousness and making valid composition choices.” Like Mark Rothko, Mrugala’s paintings are far from decorative, and attempt to command the space as opposed to appeasing the space they inhabit. Size plays a crucial role in enforcing the weight of this content. Her paintings are substantially the largest out of this year’s thesis group (she is currently working on a piece clocking in at around 6 feet by 9 feet).