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On the Spot with MFA candidate Kristen Peyton

Master of Fine Arts in painting candidate Kristen Peyton has always been connected to art. 

“I believe art is an essential thread in the fabric of what it means to be human,” Peyton said. “My preferred medium is oil paint on stretched or mounted canvas, although printmaking, sculpting, drawing and mural painting have presented alternative avenues for artistic exploration and continue to augment my interests as a painter.”

Courtesy Photo
MFA candidate Kristen Peyton works on a painting. Peyton’s MFA Thesis work will go on display in the PCAC this April, along with work by other MFA and BFA candidates.

Peyton’s upcoming exhibition, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) Thesis Exhibition, consists of oil paintings based on artistic depictions of the physical world.

“I strive to draw my viewer to profound presence in the moment by honoring the seemingly mundane and commonplace through the act of artistic expression,” Peyton said. “Ultimately, the aim of my thesis work is to offer an invitation to the viewer to pause, discover and contemplate the nuances of beauty daily offered by our visual world.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Peyton was interested in art and painting from a very young age.

“My childhood babysitter first had the inclination that I would be an artist. She told my parents she had never seen another child color the way I did; focused and devoted,” Peyton said.

Peyton spent much of her childhood going to art camp in the summer and attending extracurricular painting and art classes in school. After graduating high school, she decided to study painting as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“My William and Mary professors were engaged, passionate and practicing artists, who greatly enriched and deepened my understanding of and confidence in the arts,” Peyton said. “I am grateful for their lasting influence and continued encouragement and support.”

Peyton ended up receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 2012, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in Art and Art History (with a concentration in painting) and Latin American studies. After her graduation, she spent three years working in various non-art-related jobs.

“I wrestled with dissatisfaction in each profession, discovering through experience that the only pursuit that will truly satisfy me is a complete and lifelong devotion to the creation of art,” Peyton said.

Oil paintings by MFA candidate Kristen Peyton.

As a result, Peyton accepted an opportunity in May of 2015 to attend UNH to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in painting.

“UNH has offered spacious studio space, community and valuable teaching experience, helping to nurture my life’s pursuit of becoming a professional, practicing artist,” Peyton said.

Peyton will graduate from UNH May 2017, and plans to work at either a painting residency or a teaching position at a university, art institution or community arts center.

“As my work continues to develop and mature, I will apply for more exhibition opportunities and continue to expand my gallery affiliations. Additionally, I hope to attend an artist residency this summer to continue my artistic enrichment after graduate school,” Peyton said.

Though she acknowledges that finding success as an artist can be a bit of an uphill battle, Peyton encourages students to not give up on their passions.

“Seek opportunities, such as artist residencies, where you can connect with other creative people and create networks of support and idea sharing,” Peyton said. “Share and show your work when you are able and put in the hard work of continually cultivating your creative practice and voice.”

On Friday, April 21, from 6 to 8 p.m., the PCAC will hold the reception to its annual Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) Thesis Exhibition, which will showcase Peyton’s work, one of two candidates presenting for their MFA. The exhibition celebrates the achievements of both undergraduate and graduate students from the University’s Department of Art and Art History, and will run until May 19.

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