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Painting His Way

Junior hopes to turn his passion into a life 

Like many during the pandemic, Mason Terra, ’24, experienced a myriad of emotions. 

To help manage these feelings he turned to painting.   

“I began to realize how quickly life can be taken away. I lost family members at that time and my cat…there was a lot of stuff going on, but it also wasn’t all bad, some of it was good,” he said. “I discovered and started thinking about the ying and yang between good and bad and explored this through painting.”  

With a paintbrush in hand, Terra started out on smaller canvases purchased from a craft store. He quickly found he enjoyed using oil paints and because of this, began to rethink his life and ultimately his major at Bridgewater State University.   

“I was initially an anthropology major, my entire life I wanted to be a paleontologist,” Terra said. “But during the pandemic, as I kept painting, I realized I wanted to do something I love for the rest of my life and switched from anthropology to fine arts.”  

Since making that decision, Terra has found his calling and this summer was accepted into BSU’s signature Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) for Undergraduate Research and Creative Work Summer Grants.  

Recipients receive $4,500 plus funding for supplies and other expenses to conduct in-depth research or creative work for ten weeks in the summer.   

Terra learned of the ATP program when he was seeking out scholarship opportunities and his professor Rob Lorenson suggested ATP.   

“We looked it up and realized that the application was due the next day,” Terra said.   

Determined, Terra stayed up all night to write out his project idea and managed to fill out the application and submit it on time and to his surprise was accepted.   

“I knew what I wanted to do for the project as I had already started painting things in the theme of grief and loss. I was able to form a project around my style and take my message and theme,” he said.   

Professor and Chairperson of Art and Art History Collin Asmus is mentoring Terra on the project, which involves not only painting large-scale, four feet by three feet pieces, but Terra also stretches his own canvases.   

He creates all his artwork in the art center at BSU.   

“This project also helps me expand my portfolio, so I can get into a good graduate school,” Terra said. “It allows me to really practice my skills and hone in on them, work on my color theory, figure shapes...it’s not a project I have to abide by in a class, I get to create my own prompts, it’s personal.”  

It is also helping him to prepare for his scheduled semester abroad this fall at Florence, Italy’s Santa Reparta International School of Art. 

“I’ll be studying printmaking and drawing as well as other classes. It’s a great place to study art, there are a ton of museums. It’s going to be a great place to immerse myself in artwork and learn as much as I can,” Terra said.   

His ultimate goal is to be able to continue to paint for a living and hopefully land an artists’ residency where a company provides the artist with the opportunity to create and display their works as well as a place to live and a studio.   

“I’d love to sell my paintings to companies, collectors, have my work shown in galleries,” he said.   

And in this technology-driven world, it’s important to remember art has a place in society, Terra added.   

“Art can offer different perspectives; it can initiate conversations. Art can bring about new inventions or just a different opinion,” he said. “Sharing ideas is important for growth and expression and now more than ever, we need to be able to better communicate as a society, as a country.”   

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