The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) celebrates the 2021 Savit Scholars Josh Thompson and Evie Kiehfuss, who are pushing disciplinary boundaries in art and film. We encourage you to learn more and check out exhibitions of their work.
Last April, Josh and Evie were awarded UROP student grants, which provide financial support for undergraduates to partner with faculty on projects in any field of study. Savit Scholars are selected annually from among recipients with priority given to projects with impact in the arts and humanities.
Since 2017, Savit Scholars have expanded the possibilities for performance art, opened new ways of thinking about apparel design, produced a stage play from the testimonies of military veterans, created more interactive virtual reality experiences, and opened inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ athletes at CU Boulder.
Effigy: A Short Film Exploring Life and Empathy
Growing up in Highlands Ranch, CO, Josh was content with the expectation he would become an engineer. Then he stumbled on the film program at CU and “immediately fell in love with the art form.”
Josh considered himself a film buff but had never considered a career in film. Now pursuing a major in Film Production with a minor in Creative Technology and Design, he is making films of his own and has “synthesized my passions into one degree.”
In the future, Josh hopes to “incorporate STEM into my films to make experimental showcases of scientific phenomenon.” His latest effort pushes the boundaries of visual storytelling to explore the complexity of individual perception and social experience.
Effigy: A Short Film Exploring Life and Empathy employs four different audio tracks, fragmenting experience and inviting dialogue among viewers. Josh explains that “each narrative bears unique milestones and signifiers but all end in the same place.”
“I see film as a medium for scientific experimentation, driven by hypotheses that can enrich our understanding of human experience.” Empowered with UROP funding and the support of mentor Sheiva Rezvani, Josh dreams of a career in film and has plans to continue “breaking the rules of classical film production.”
Contradictions of the Pandemic
Art Practices major Evie was born and raised in Marin County, CA and her interest in art started as soon as she was able to hold a pencil. Though the pandemic resurfaced anxieties developed as a child, art has provided a pathway to healing.
Growing up, Evie developed an irrational fear of becoming ill. “I often convinced myself I was sick when, in reality, I wasn’t.” Through hard work, Evie overcame her fear in high school and was free from the thoughts that once weighed her down. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
As her health anxiety returned with the pandemic, Evie began channeling her emotions into her artwork to relieve stress. Her latest and largest art installation is a way to represent her personal view of the pandemic.
Contradictions of the Pandemic, an exhibition of oil paintings, shows the loss of touch and community by focusing on beautiful things and highlighting the places and activities we used to share but could not anymore. “They are,” Evie reminds us, “still full of beauty.”
Ghostly figures appear in the paintings, hinting at what we were able to do previous to the pandemic, and are deepened by acrylic sheets suspended in front of each canvas. These represent the perspective of health anxiety—a distorted vision of the contaminated world.
UROP support allowed Evie to work at a larger scale for the first time and refine her artistic style with oil paint. Her mentor Marina Kassianidou provided inspiration, expertise and support.
Work in Progress