USF 2024 Art & Design Senior Thesis Exhibition Now Open

2024 Art & Design Senior Thesis exhibitors

Photo caption: Exhibiting artists for USF’s 2024 Art & Design Senior Thesis Exhibition include (left to right) Mazi Niezgoda, Jaclyn Duske, Meghan Grilli, Alvaro Robles, Stephanie Behland and Vada Arndt.

Joliet, Ill. – The community is invited to enjoy the artwork of University of St. Francis (USF) seniors as part of the current exhibition at the USF Art Gallery. The 2024 Art & Design Senior Thesis exhibition, which runs through May 31, 2024, highlights work selected from the thesis projects of graduating seniors majoring in Studio Art, Photography, Graphic Design, and Art Education. The exhibition serves as a culmination of their undergraduate experience, celebrating their growth as artists and their commitment to the rigorous process of artistic production. The Senior Thesis exhibition is a testament to the dedication and creativity of the graduating seniors, who have demonstrated their ability to contribute meaningfully to the discourse of contemporary art.

The USF Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday through Thursday and is located 25 E. Van Buren Street in downtown Joliet. For more information on the exhibition or the gallery, contact USF Art Gallery Director Jennifer Moore at or visit

About the Exhibiting Artists

Vada Arndt – Vada has fallen in love with the landscape and environment all around her. From familiar and nostalgic scenes, to commentary on her family’s long lineage in the Midwest, Vada has been creating artwork (whether consciously or not) depicting scenes familiar or directly pulled from twenty-something years’ worth of observation and admiration.

Vada works mostly in oils, but is also interested in using mediums which most effectively evoke the desired goal of a piece. Vada loves to see what is present around her as if seeing it for the first time, to realize how amazing it all is. The main goal for this project was to challenge herself to share what she sees in a way that allows others a glimpse of the stunning beauty in the ordinary.

Stephanie Behland – Stephanie is a talented Graphic Design major whose journey into the world of graphic design began in high school when she reluctantly enrolled in a computer arts class. This newfound passion led her to switch majors from elementary education to graphic design.

Currently, Stephanie is honing her skills through a marketing internship at USF, where she has also worked on design projects for various companies and organizations. Some of her notable clients include South Side XP Volleyball Club, the USF Dance Team, and Blue Taco Restaurant.

When Stephanie is not immersed in the world of design, you can find her dancing or exploring new travel destinations.

Jaclyn Duske – Jaclyn works with both photography and graphic design. While she loves experimenting with many forms of photography, she has found her passion in sport and concert photography. Jaclyn has had her work shown on The Today Show, KTLA, Country Now Magazine, and countless local newspapers. For her senior thesis, Jaclyn is showcasing both her sport and concert photography and design with images, graphic design pieces, screen prints, book designs, and her own concert merchandise designs.

Meghan Grilli – Meghan is a K-12 Visual Arts Educator major. Her thesis project, Little Miss Lilly, is a book series that she has written and illustrated based on real-life experiences. The stories follow Lilly, a young girl of an unspecified age, through her adventures of spending time with animals. The books aim to inform children of how to care for these various animals while maintaining a light-hearted atmosphere. Meghan’s goal is to extend the series from animals and incorporate educational themes that enlighten young readers on basic visual arts ideas and concepts. The set-up that Meghan has created within the USF Gallery is meant to replicate a young child’s reading area, much like one would see in real-time as a child were truly reading the stories.

Mazi Niezgoda – Mazi’s journey with graphic design started when she graduated from Plainfield Central High School. While trying to decide what she was going to do with the rest of her life, she began interning at a wedding photography company where they suggested she take a photography and photoshop course. This led Mazi on a path that fostered her love of graphic design. Mazi received her associate in graphic design at Joliet Junior College and continued her education as a graphic design major at USF.

When Mazi isn’t working on her numerous photography and graphic design projects, you can find her attending rock concerts throughout the summer.

Alvaro Robles – Alvaro aims to innovate and inspire with his art. He has a strong work ethic and takes pride in doing his absolute best. He is always ready for a challenge and seeks to learn new lessons whenever possible. Alvaro does not like to contain himself to one skillset, as he enjoys venturing into different areas of fine art. His style is very detailed and intense. He incorporates his life into his work. Each big project is a piece of his artistic timeline.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 3,300 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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