MFA Candidate Explores Scientific Interests Through Art

As a graduate student in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Michigan State University, Kristen Franyutti explores her scientific interests in the form of sculptures and paintings. Her most recent projects act as her creative thesis and question the ethical issues associated with scientific advances. These works will be on display at the 2017 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition March 17-April 2 at MSU’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.

Kristen Franyutti
Kristen Franyutti working in the studio


When Franyutti began her undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas, she planned on entering the medical field, but after taking multiple art electives, she realized that pursuing art was her dream. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and interned with Nicole Miller in New York City.

“I liked fashion design because I loved the idea of sculpting things over the human body,” Franyutti said. “It kind of goes back to wanting to go into the medical field and surgery.”

2017 MFA ExhibitSince beginning the MFA program at MSU in 2014, Franyutti has shifted her focus to sculpting and painting.  She recently designed and created an installation, titled “On the Horizon,” which is a collection of three sculptures that explore current innovations in applied sciences, including stem cell research and DNA modification.

“My sculptures are microcosms of the future and show all the crazy creatures that have developed from technology and the innovations that we’ve done,” Franyutti said. “It’s a whole new world that looks so strange to us, but thousands of years from now, we could see some crazy creatures that come from the things that we end up doing to them.”

It’s nice because we all aspire to be well known like that, and with this event, our art is in the same building as these artists, and it’s going to be seen by the public.

To help with the research for her thesis, Franyutti was gifted the SCRAM (Special College Research Abroad Money) grant to visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, known as Miraikan, in Tokyo, Japan, during July 2016.  There she studied the museum’s exhibits on stem cell research and global warming and the reactions museum’s visitors had to such topics.

2017 MFA ExhibitSince returning from Japan, Franyutti has been working on finishing her thesis. Once complete, she will defend her thesis to a panel before it can be hung for the exhibition.

“It’s going to be really exciting to see my work hanging in a museum that also houses major contemporary artists,” she said. “It’s nice because we all aspire to be well known like that, and with this event, our art is in the same building as these artists, and it’s going to be seen by the public.”

The MFA Thesis Exhibition opens Friday, March 17, and also will feature the work of MFA candidates Ladan Bahmani, Elyse Gambino, Jordan Smith and Chelsea Young.