CFA Presents MFA Thesis Exhibition 2014
Three venues showcase painting, graphic design, art education
The wall of plate glass windows at the 808 Gallery beckons passersby with a glimpse at this year’s College of Fine Arts MFA Painting and Sculpture Thesis Exhibition, one of three components of the School of Visual Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition. What you discover upon entering is an astonishing virtuosity and command of materials.
An arresting set of interrelated sculptures by Joan Moffitt (CFA’14) is the first work encountered. Titled Big Shoes to Fill, it comprises wood, foam, twine, and shoes. On one ladder, a pair of shoes rests on the top rung; on another, shoes are affixed to the base of the ladder. A third part of the sculpture shows legs in a worn pair of sneakers. Moffitt works in a muted palette of gray, beige, white, and brown. “It’s a wonderful example of the interplay between installation and animation,” says show curator Aaron Norfolk, a CFA lecturer.
The work of the 35 graduate students in the annual MFA Thesis Exhibition is being shown in three different spaces. Visitors can stop by the BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery to see this year’s MFA Graphic Design Exhibition, and the MA Studio Teaching Exhibition is at Gallery 5. Each runs through Sunday, April 27.
Moffit is one of 15 students whose work is on display in the 808 show. Visitors will be struck by the artists’ extraordinary range of materials and styles. An alcove across from Moffitt’s sculptures is filled with a series of oil paintings by Hoda Kashia (CFA’14). In a dozen canvases, Kashia explores the subject of hidden and masked identities.
“I like to deal with meanings that can be contrasted with each other, like love and hate, reality and dreams,” says Kashiha, who moved to Boston from Iran to earn a master’s degree at BU.
“I just wanted to paint, and I liked that BU really focused on painting,” she says. “I can be alone here, painting on my own, but the faculty here pushes so much. They’ve helped to change my view on art.”
“Hoda is a real force, an amazing talent,” says Norfolk. “She lives and breathes painting.” Her work is striking, he says, in that it is both socially and politically conscious, but also “has a theatrical and playful side.”
Looking at Noah Sussman’s oils, one is struck by the versatility of his work: 15 small canvases—all figurative landscapes, many framed through windows—are teeming with movement and the play of light. But a half dozen larger paintings by Sussman (CFA’14) are far more abstract.
The materials used by the artists illustrate their use of unconventional media to make a statement. An eye-catching sculpture by Sarah Brown (CFA’14), Sheepskin Rug, is made from dirt and manure. And her related Fiscal Responsibility sits atop the piece, evoking a series of larger-than-life dollar bills. They are constructed of paper handmade with collard greens, tobacco, and cigarette paper. Justin Mendoza (CFA’14) uses military fabric to create a series of sculptural renderings of various firearms.
“This is great, polished work by artists with very promising futures,” says Norfolk. “This is just the beginning for them, the glimmer of what they can do.”
At the Stone Gallery is the MFA Graphic Design Thesis Exhibition, titled Studio 9. Featuring the work of nine artists, the show is a wonderful example of how color, design, and typeface can evoke powerful statements. It is striking how much of the work here is political in nature.
An arresting series of posters, maps, and typeface by Jennifer Wilkins (CFA’14), Do We Dare Act? explores the hot-button issue of global warming and sustainability. As Wilkins notes in her artist statement, “the presentation of such a complex and controversial topic presents an incredible challenge for a graphic designer. Only a multifaceted design approach can be both informative and stimulating for the audience.” Her bold use of color—yellow and gray—and imagery demand attention. She uses graphic design to impart a sense of urgency. “The reality is that people will not act unless they are aware of the situation or personally affected,” Wilkins says. “Bringing in personal elements as well as shocking elements, I hope to create a movement towards a more sustainable future.”
Lia Mahmoudian (CFA’14) uses graphic design to explore her identity as an Iranian woman and how the media present her people. Mahmoudian’s accompanying video makes direct references to the political situation in Iran.
“The trend in graphic design over the past few years is that designers are not just executors of content, they’re authors and curators as well, and they use graphic design to problem-solve and as a vehicle for storytelling,” says Yael Ort-Dinoor, a CFA lecturer, who oversaw the exhibition. “That is abundantly clear in this show. It’s interesting to see how each of these artists brings their own storytelling to their work.”
“The Master of Fine Arts is two years of intensive studio work, meaning the artist is in the studio all day, every day,” says Lynne Allen, director of the School of Visual Arts and a CFA professor of art. “The students work to make the best possible art, express the most rigorous conceptual ideas, and learn how to put on a professional exhibition like you would find in a museum.”
The third show of the MFA Thesis Exhibition, the MA Studio Teaching Exhibition, can be found in Gallery 5, on the fifth floor of the College of Fine Arts. Students in the MA Studio Teaching and Art Education programs focus on developing methods to teach children and teenagers how to think visually and create art. This exhibition displays written descriptions of the philosophies the 11 graduate students have developed in their student teaching, as well as work generated by their young pupils—work that includes ceramics, drawing, sculpture, stop-motion videography, and more.
Each exhibition in the MFA Thesis Exhibition 2014 runs through Sunday, April 27, and is free and open to the public. The MFA Painting and Sculpture Thesis Exhibition is at the 808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave.; hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The MFA Graphic Design Thesis Exhibition is at the BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, College of Fine Arts, 855 Commonwealth Ave.; hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The MA Studio Teaching Exhibition is at CFA’s Gallery 5, 855 Commonwealth Ave., fifth floor, and is open during normal building hours. The exhibitions are within walking distance of one another. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line B trolley to the BU West stop.
Kat Sorensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments