Kelsey Ruggaard is a multimedia artist who makes work that is aesthetically pleasing but is enhanced by the addition of history and references. She draws from a variety of cultural history like famous events, myths and societal norms, to reference in her work. While the content, media and materials vary greatly, almost all of the work is subtly critical of the society it references. Often, Kelsey incorporates humorous and ironic titles that add a twist to the meaning of the content and further poke fun at humanity. She graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in December 2015 with a B.A. in studio art and a minor in business.​ See more of Kelsey’s work at
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​Dave Waite is an oil painting student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he also studies environmental design. The majority of his work studies human interaction within a space. He aims to engage minute nuances of life that deserve attention, celebration or critique. For Dave, the initial process of each piece is the most important part, as it defines the full end result, much like cooking with too hot of a pan or a wicked first kiss.

​Jessica Williams is a portrait photographer living in Boulder, Colorado, who has been running a photography business since the age of 18. Jessica is inspired by emotional connection and is passionate about capturing the unique, and sometimes unacknowledged, identities of a person. Her work is most often characterized by bright colors and rich natural settings. For Jessica, her photography is in part about capturing and remembering moments, but is on a larger scale about engaging with the many aspects of life’s beauty. She is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder studying psychology and German.​​

The Capturing Happy series is an attempt to portray a fleeting emotion through photography and further embellishment. The project developed from the idea that while sadness and anger are often portrayed in art, happiness is often the hardest emotion to personify. We gathered a diverse group of people and talked to them about their happiest moments in life, photographed them and embellished the photographs with paint and embroidery to better portray the emotions in the stories we heard. We picked happiness because we felt it was a complicated and ephemeral emotion but also a universal one. The purpose is to expose a storyline or context from happiness which makes the emotion relatable yet specific. It is lighthearted and engages the viewer to reflect and see some of these more somber stories as uplifting.

"Barbara" by Kelsey Ruggaard, Dave Waite and Jessica Williams “Barbara has faced adversity in her life but always maintains a positive attitude. Her family comes from Ghana and she is now living a full life at college here in Colorado. There has been so much opportunity, growth and joy throughout her life. We decided to focus on radiating color to reflect the dancing traditions from Ghana, her interest in fashion and her glowing personality.”

Student Arts Program official selection 2017

"Sarah" by Kelsey Ruggaard, Dave Waite and Jessica Williams “Sarah was our first interview of the day and, even with finals and limited sleep, she was one of the most smiley people we talked to. Although she is very rarely down, the easiest way to cheer her up is to ask about her interests. As one of the few art and science majors, Sarah finds joy in a wide variety of things, including lipids, chemistry, goats and making cheese. We chose to incorporate some of these items into her headspace in the final photo.”

Student Arts Program official selection 2017

"Berta" by Kelsey Ruggaard, Dave Waite and Jessica Williams “If you happen to meet Dr. Joseph Berta, or ‘Berta’ as many call him, it is clear how much joy he finds in telling stories from his past. Whether it’s in the stories themselves or the laughter that quickly follows, we felt it was important to capture Berta in the middle of one such moment. In this piece, the pillars are representative of his college days. Here, he reminisces on a time where he and his friends planned to trick a group of sorority girls, but didn’t go through with it for fear that the accomplices would trick one another instead.”

Student Arts Program official selection 2017