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Grad Work Culminates in MFA Exhibitions

Three shows run until end of April


It’s impossible to walk past the 808 Gallery on Commonwealth Avenue and not notice the looming abstract sculptures gazing out the plate glass windows. The two figures, one standing approximately six feet tall, feature large, bird-like feet and are constructed of wire, yarn, and steel.

The sculptures, titled Mouths and Mitosis, are by Emily Wist (CFA’12), who is among 37 School of Visual Arts graduate students whose works are part of the College of Fine Arts annual MFA Thesis Exhibitions, taking place in galleries across campus during April.

Wist, who admits that Mouths is her favorite of the sculptures (at the moment), will be an artist in residence at Vermont Studio Center next February. “Mouths is visceral, confusing, and I just think it’s a really strong piece,” she says. “I’ve received a lot of strong reactions from it, and I like that.”

“The Master of Fine Arts is the terminal degree for studio artists, and as such, it represents two years of hard work and self-discovery,” says Lynne Allen, director of the School of Visual Arts. “Artists, like anyone else who masters a field of study, work long hours in the studio, and the thesis exhibition is the culmination of that journey. Each artist has their own voice and in their own way communicates with the viewer. We are very proud of this year’s class, which is tremendously diverse in style and medium, and we know they will go far.”

What immediately strikes visitors to the MFA Painting and Sculpture Thesis Exhibition is the artists’ broad range of styles, influences, and material. In the 8-by-10-foot work Burning Wisdom, Burn the House of Waste, Natalia Afentoulidou (CFA’12) has used wood, photocopies, cardboard, and other mixed media to create a colorful, dynamic room that invites people to enter and sit. The brilliant acrylic paintings by Stefan Jones (CFA’12) explore the interactions among religion, mythology, and different cultures. Through his work, he says, he seeks to “question people’s perceptions of what is good or evil.” Kei Omotaka’s gouaches, awash in vibrant colors, are visualizations of her native Japan. “Painting familiar places of Japan while being in the United States is like merging two worlds—where I am now and where I came from—in the same physical space,” says Omotaka (CFA’12).

Further down Comm Ave, in Gallery 5 at the College of Fine Arts, visitors to the MA Studio Teaching Exhibition can see work by graduate students completing degrees in studio education. The students’ paintings, drawings, and sculptures are accompanied by brief descriptions of their teaching philosophies. Splashed around the gallery are works done by their elementary, middle, and high school students as well.

The BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, also at CFA, is showing the MFA Graphic Design Thesis Exhibition, which features cutting-edge work in photography, posters, magazine design, and labeling. Among the works on display here are packaging designed by Melinda Sol Brechbuehler (CFA’12) for products as diverse as wine, soap, and coffee, as well as a font book and font designed by the artist. Many of the pieces have an interactive component, inviting viewers to pick them up and hold them. One student designed a guest book and asks visitors to sign it; another encourages visitors to write on a chalkboard.

During their first year in the graphic design program, says Brechbuehler, students spent a lot of time working on conceptual design and theory, wrestling with their own definition of design and with what inspires them, and figuring out where they want to take their work. But the second year has provided much more hands-on designing, visual exploration, and image building.

“I loved it,” says Brechbuehler. “Our teachers were always encouraging us, telling us this is the one time in our life we don’t have clients, so we can really do what we want to do.”

The MFA Thesis Exhibitions 2012 are free and open to the public. The MFA Graphic Design Thesis Exhibition is at the BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Ave. The MFA Painting and Sculpture Thesis Exhibition is at the 808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave. Both shows run through Sunday, April 29. The MA Art Education Teacher & Student Exhibition is at CFA’s Gallery 5, 855 Commonwealth Ave., fifth floor. The show runs through Friday, April 27.

Grace Ko can be reached at graceko@bu.edu.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

2 Comments on Grad Work Culminates in MFA Exhibitions

  • Constance on 04.23.2012 at 5:38 am

    This is great! Wish I could see it in person!

  • Sharon Daniels on 04.23.2012 at 6:48 pm

    This is a lovely article, and the music enhances the text and the photographs. Everyone should want to take a walk through this display and others by our incredible Arts students. Thanks BU Today for reminding us how incredible our University is.

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