The Rise of the Creative Thesis


Various Authors

The Senior Thesis Handbook cites an Arabic proverb, “Knowledge is a sea without shores.” This suggests there is no limit to what one can learn about the world. An integral part of the Priory experience is the Senior Thesis program, which allows students an opportunity to demonstrate “a high level of initiative, independence, research, organization, and effort.” A precursor to the academic work students will encounter in college, the senior thesis has traditionally taken the form of a formal academic paper. More recently, however, the Senior Thesis program has evolved to provide the opportunity for more creative oriented students to pursue their interests and exhibit their talents. This change creates a program that gives students the opportunity to explore this “sea of knowledge” and create a work of high artistic or academic quality which is not only impressive to colleges and helps Priory stand out, but something which students can truly be proud of. 


Listed below are some of the creative theses created by this year’s senior class.


Vice Grip

Thesis by John Reinker and Patrick Zheng


Wow! What a journey – to condense the entire process of making my creative thesis (a short film titled Vice Grip) into a paragraph is pretty much impossible, so I’ll stick to the basics. When it came time to decide on my thesis, I knew making a short film would, in the long run, be the more fulfilling choice. I figured people would take more of an interest in my project if instead of waving around a 25-page essay, I could simply say “Hey, go watch my movie!”

The idea for Vice Grip actually came to me in many different story chunks, and over time I slowly melded these into one plotline. That’s my strong suit – the storyteller. I love crafting the characters and the conflict, and then having it all play out in front of me. But, I knew my weakness – technology. That’s not to say I am completely brainless when it comes to the actual filming and editing stages of filmmaking, I just knew that I had to find help if I wanted my movie to really shine. So, I got my friend Patrick Zheng, who you all know and love, involved in my thesis. We eventually petitioned successfully to be allowed to collaborate on our creative thesis, something that had not been done to such a degree before. There was doubt at first regarding our abilities to pull this project off, but that doubt was easily outweighed by the thesis board’s faith in us and their interest in seeing if we could, in fact, succeed.

And so Vice Grip began. Over a period of four months, we pondered, storyboarded, wrote, filmed, and edited. Big thanks to St. Louis weather for giving us such great conditions to work with! Oh wait, nevermind – it was freezing cold, snowing, and extremely windy. But that didn’t stop us from pushing forward, the dream had been initiated and we had to see it through. Long story short (I doubt anyone wants to hear about how Patrick and I met everyday for like 4 weeks of editing), we finished the movie just in time ….. to turn it in two weeks after it was due – of course, we had an extension.

Looking back on Vice Grip now, I won’t try to lie and say it’s amazing – it’s good to be sure, but at the end of the day it could never live up to my expectations. I originally saw it as my last big movie before finishing high school, something that would be perfectly crafted. But I realize now that it is just another stepping stone, another practice round for my future endeavors in filmmaking. Now after reading about me dissing it, go watch the movie! (Just look up Sledge Melon Studios on YouTube) 


Last Supper Mural

Thesis by A.J. Albert


I painted my contemporary mural of the Last Supper with the intention of conveying the message that the salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ and his actions following these events is still accessible in our society today. The process took 3 months and was painstaking, and it required me to move my 6 foot by 9 foot canvas drop cloth between my basement and porch. For the background of my work, I used an abstract style with large brushes and water to allow the paint to spread on its own and take on its own life. Once I was done with that, I wrote all the passages from each of the four gospels pertaining to the events of the Last Supper. To do this, I carefully calculated the height and width each letter needed to be in order for it all to fit on the canvas, and then used a yardstick to write in straight lines across. Below the passages I created a unique graffiti tag for each apostle in order to bring about a sort of “city” environment, where the colors used in each tag related to the colors worn by each respectively in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. After I had done this, I then painted a table covered by a sort of picnic tablecloth, to again represent how I believe these events would be if they were to transpire in the present day. Next, I painted Jesus Christ, in which I used a simplistic representation in order not to misrepresent his holy character, while still using a figure that almost anyone would recognize as the Son of God. Following that, I painted a section of different solid colors for each apostle related to their graffiti tag, within which I would put symbols that I felt represented the characteristics of each respectively. Finally, I painted a city skyline in the windows in the background spreading from St. Louis to New York in order to show how the events in my painting are taking place in the present day, throughout the whole world, again to convey that this salvation is still possible.


Abbey Church Galaxy

Thesis by Seppo Hoijarvi


Being able to paint a mural in Priory’s lower Junior School commons was an awesome experience that I was extremely fortunate to have. For most of the year, I was convinced my mural would have to be off-campus or on a material such as plywood. However, after submitting some of my practice work to Father Cuthbert, I was pleasantly surprised not only with permission to paint in the school but also with an entire wall to myself. My work took place mostly during Christmas break when there wasn’t much commotion in the building. Over the course of a week, I was able to get the bulk of the work done, and in the weeks following, I completed the mural with detailing. My depiction of the Abbey Church hurtling through a foreign galaxy emphasizes that we can always count on the Priory community no matter what is going on in the chaotic outside world. Unfortunately, with plans for construction in the Jr. School, it might not be around forever. I would encourage you to see it now while it is still possible.