MFA Thesis Exhibition I and II by Anita Wallace
Call me old-fashioned, but I was disappointed in the MFA Thesis exhibition I for one main reason. Most, if not all, of the artists did not post an Artist's Statement or narrative for the cohesive whole of the body of work that they were presenting. Yes, we are all supposed to come to it fresh and interpret it in our own way. However, I think after spending three intensive years in the MFA program with studio practice in an academic research university I can at least expect a student to write a cohesive narrative of what their objectives were. I purchased the catalog hoping that I might find that in the slim turquoise volume. I did not. In fairness, in the catalog there were some of the artists that wrote about their goals and objectives. But, why could these not be printed out on a sheet of paper and posted as part of the exhibition? Why must a person have to purchase the volume to get a context for the work in a show that is open to the public? The second MFA exhibition had more Artists' Statements posted which I appreciated. Not everyone had them, which is a little disturbing, because one wishes to obtain more context and background (at least I do) when viewing an exhibition of work which is a culmination of a three year tenure in a program.
That said, I thought that there were many innovative and experimental things going on in the work of the graduate students in both exhibitions.
Travis Freeman: I had spoken to Travis about his work while working in the digital arts computer lab so I was excited to see how his metaphysical work would be presented in a physical space. Each of the experiential pieces toyed with space and time --I thought very successfully. I was wary to place myself into the experience of laying my head on the lap of a stranger. However, I believe that it was an experience of deciding not to do it and to question of myself why I made that decision. His work is very thought provoking--one conjures some sense of the Emperor's New Clothes narrative along with the truly philosophical artist participating in the present moment of fleeting time. His work left me wondering and questioning the physicality of art and the nature of the aesthetic experience. To me the key thing in work of this nature is the whole question of documentation: how and what to do about it; whether to do it. The transience of it feeds into my interest in the notion of the ephemeral and our desire to hold onto the physical when it is impossible, and our way of infusing value and meaning into physical things and our working and reworking of our own experience through memory and imagination.
Laura Corcoran-Mahnke: I was quite impressed with the prints and photographs of Laura Corcoran-Mahnke in the MFA Exhibition II. The two long mural like mono prints reminded me of Asian rice-paper screens with their intricate detail and mixture of natural and urban visual elements. The contrast of the birds with the telephone wires and skyscrapers which they encounter on their annual migrations reminded me of the film "Winged Migration" which I enjoyed very much. The execution of the prints was at an extremely high meticulous level and standard and I appreciate the effort, time, and skill that requires. I am interested in work that examines nature in the urban setting and brings into focus what we encounter and see in our everyday lives.