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Artist Earns USTís First BA/BFA, Gallery Show

Artist Earns USTís First BA/BFA, Gallery Show With her ever-present Canon Rebel EOS hanging around her neck, Krista Karbalai is the picture of accomplishment.  During the University’s 63rd Commencement Ceremony on May 18, she will become the first graduate to earn a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts (BA/BFA) degree in studio arts.

The University of St. Thomas Studio Arts Program is offered in partnership with the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Through it, Karbalai received a wide-ranging exposure to theory, aesthetics and practice in the visual arts—all following foundational art history classes at UST.

An undeniably talented artist, Karbalai’s path to the program was not a straight line. The bright young woman with options changed her major twice, going from business to psychology to art.

“It was a matter of finally deciding to do what I wanted to do instead of what other people wanted me to do,” Karbalai said.

Once committed, the Houston native, who began painting as a child, noticed a big shift in her talent and skill.

“I started getting better about halfway through the program,” Karbalai said. “I understood composition and palette and then I got my procedure down.”

Patrick Palmer, faculty chair and dean of the Glassell School of Art, watched the sensitive Karbalai expand her narrative skills and ability as a painter, especially evident as she tackled her senior project—26 oil paintings inspired by photographs she snapped with that trusty Canon.

“Her senior project dealt with mainly autobiographical issues, and these ideas manifested themselves in some very beautiful and sophisticated works,” Palmer said.

Her newest exhibition will be on display from April 26 to May 3 as the first in the newly reopened University of St. Thomas Art Gallery, formerly the Little Archeology Gallery. Karbalai’s exhibition is the best of the best from her senior project, and the name, ‘102 Hours,’ is a reflection of how many credit hours it took to complete the studio art classes for her degree.

The dual BA/BFA degree requires a portfolio review and includes a unique blend of studio art and academic studies. The liberal arts coursework combines with an additional year of intense studio experience to prepare artists to write clearly, think critically and deepen their understanding of their studio practice.

Karbalai describes her paintings as figurative.

“My work is autobiographical as I only paint those that are very close to me or myself. Painting the photos I take enables me to give those moments in time a physical and tangible presence. Although my painting technique is smooth and realistic, I like to play around with various experimental color pallets.”
For Karbalai, art is cathartic.

“Art helps me to center myself and get my emotions out and express myself,” Karbalai said.

At the University’s upcoming commencement ceremony, Karbalai and others will experience all the emotions associated with milestone achievement as 350 undergraduates and 793 graduate students participate.

Watch Commencement Live

Those not able to attend can watch a live stream of the graduation ceremony.

Art: "shh" by Krista Karbalai