Make – Shift – Move: senior art students to exhibit work at Hera Gallery this spring

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 1, 2024 – Fifteen University of Rhode Island art students will present their work — and celebrate their pending graduations — in the senior capstone art exhibition, Make – Shift – Move, April 6 through May 4 at the Hera Gallery in Wakefield.

Hera will launch the exhibit with an opening reception on Saturday, April 6, 6 to 8 p.m. A closing reception and artist talk will take place Saturday, May 4, 2 to 4 p.m., when the exhibiting artists will discuss their individual pieces followed by a Q&A session.

Graduating seniors Alexander Amini, Betzy Cordon, Ashlee Cornicelli, Meghan Cullen, Lauren DeCesaris, Kayla Ebbeling, Emeril Estrella, Keira Gonsalves, Grace Horner, Isabelle LaBarbera, Angel Leiva, Araya McKeon, Michael Miller-Sprafke, Kylee Rodrigues and Corina Vidal will exhibit their work.

ON THE MOVE: URI senior art students are presenting work in the senior capstone art exhibition at the Hera Gallery in Wakefield, opening April 6. The gallery has a long history of hosting URI’s senior seminar exhibition, showcasing the University’s upcoming talent in a public, professional setting at this annual event. (Photo Hera Gallery)

The exhibit will showcase artwork created during a time of temporary relocation, while the University’s Fine Arts Center undergoes renovation. As the students adapted to new artistic surroundings, they say they found challenges and opportunities and used the experience to fuel their creative processes.

DeCesaris, a native of East Greenwich, says she is excited about presenting her work this spring and looking forward to introducing a unique subject matter to the URI community. She says she’s been obsessed with sea slugs since she began college and is taking this opportunity to showcase her somewhat unique passion with a community who might not be aware these tiny creatures exist. Many people may not have seen one before; they exist worldwide and most are no bigger than the tip of a thumb.

“I’m excited to show and teach even more people about these mystical creatures. Seeing them enlarged in a 24 by 30 inch painting is quite the rare sight,” DeCesaris says. “I’d encourage anyone curious about sea slugs to come see my piece if you want to get a closer look at the intricacies of these fantastical sea creatures.”

DeCesaris transferred to URI from a college in Florida, following a two-year break during the pandemic, and says that the connections, friends and community she found here made all the difference. Returning to college after an extended break was nerve-wracking, but she says the URI community helped her feel at home almost right away. And she’s taken advantage of the opportunities found at URI, including a current internship connecting to her professional future. She is working with a professor in education on a project visualizing women in STEM for PBS.

DeCesaris will graduate in December with a degree in fine arts and graphic design and is happy to mark, not only her self-described obsession with sea slugs, but also the shift to a professional artistic career. “I’m still going to love and paint sea slugs beyond college, but it felt fitting to have a creative final piece that represents finishing my time in academia with a love letter to the little slugs that helped me stay artistically inspired along the way.”

The exhibition is coordinated by Annu Palakunnathu Matthew in the department of Art and Art History.

The Hera Gallery is located at 10 High Street in Wakefield, open Wednesday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public and accessible to persons with disabilities; parking is available. Visit for up-to-date event information.