Master of Fine Arts exhibition brings engaging experiences
April 14, 2021
A child guides a pencil across the page to recreate the monster that strolled into their mind while sitting underneath a table. This is one beginning of the lifetimes of work on display at the 2021 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition.
Upon entering the exhibition, viewers will see the works of Paul Kenneth Rohde, a student in MFA, whose work has a strong focus on horses.
“The horse is a conduit through which I communicate both my real and imagined personal history,” Rohde said. “This body of work is the culmination of more than a year of active horseplay.”
“Hold Your Horses” by Rohde is a canvas filled with horse drawings. Some took mere seconds to finish and others took hours. There is hardly a space in the work that is not filled with a hoof or mane.
“In the drawings, the space created by the previously drawn horse dictated the size and shape of their future horse neighbor,” Rohde said. “In this way, I was actively collaborating with the horses as they were being created.”
The result of Rohde’s work are horses who ask viewers to imagine their full body and wonder at their majesty.
Going deeper into the exhibit, Olly Greer, MFA student, has their work presented. A sea of eggs and glazed underwear, lying among misaligned wallpaper and carpets, a stool, a baby carriage, a plastered pillar, a tiny nightstand with secrets inside and candle wax outside and much more.
Greer explained how their work relates to their queer community in Chicago.
“I think that this is all a love letter in some ways to them,” Greer said. “That we’re the slime wads, we’re the eggs, we’re the candles. In my process, the way I made a lot of things, just missing where I come from and missing the slop.”
Greer’s work is also about exploring the trauma that they have been through and inviting viewers to explore their own memories with Greer’s work as a guide.
“All of my work is about rewriting trauma and always has been,” Greer said. “I think that my work is the catharsis of my own experiences.”
However, for Greer, at the end of the day, it is the interpretations and meaning of the art to the viewer that are truly important to them.
“You can have me write a thesis, I can tell you what it’s about,” Greer said while inviting viewers to lay on the carpet to wonder with them. “That’s what it’s about to me, my work is about relationships.”
Around the corner, viewers can walk up to a collection of paintings by Tamar Segev, an MFA student. Each painting acts as a vessel to explore themes of historical narratives and the act of remembering.
“When I paint, I move around the canvas quickly, applying and scraping paint in an almost frantic manner,” Segev said. “Stitching drastically slows down my process. Stitching is time-consuming and arduous, leaving my fingers and body tense. The physically demanding gesture of stitching embodies the labor of remembering.”
Limanowskiego 48, Lodz, Poland, June 2, 2019, Number 1 by Segev is stitched with brown and red canvas pieces, with a swath of yellow at the top, a section of cold blue-grey at the top right corner and fragments of dead space littered throughout the piece. The collection of colors and shapes crafts an image for viewers that Segev said are hard to forget.
“In my statement about these works, I write about my personal connection to this address and my process,” Segev said. “Each additional piece of information adds another layer to the meaning of the work that can inform the audience’s experience and interpretation.”
One more turn of the corner leads to the works of E Ainsley, an MFA student, such as Dream Machine and Spiral Bound. Here, Ainsley invites viewers to contemplate the connection between body and mind.
“I wanted people to engage with my art in more ways than just looking and leaving, so there’s the option to use your cell phone flashlight,” Ainsley said. “It’s not quite touch, but the light is touching the mirror and the reflection is touching the wall, so the viewer is implicated in the process of discovering what is more to see.”
In another of Ainsley’s pieces, viewers are meant to lean over and into the piece in order to watch a video, almost becoming a part of the piece.
“Our bodies are brought into the installation more and it’s a very phenomenological experience,” Ainsley said.
The MFA Exhibition includes many more great works of art viewers are invited to see.
“Words have a funny way of explaining away the magic that surrounds us,” Rohde said. “I will let the art speak for itself.”
The MFA Exhibition concludes on April 24.