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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life + Arts

MFA students reveal art

Twelve graduating UH Masters of Fine Arts students will reveal their thesis work at the 2009 Annual School of Art Masters Thesis Exhibition on Saturday at the Blaffer Gallery. The exhibit is a highlight of the candidates’ work after a three-year program and will be featured in a museum environment.

The graduating students include graphic communication artists Noora Alsalman and Zack Zwicky, painters Kristen Cliburn, Norberto Gomez Jr., Cody Ledvina and Cheyenne Ramos, photography and digital media students Michael Brims and Richard Wall and sculptors Joel Bender Jr., Dennis Harper, Samantha Medellin and Emily Sloan.

As the featured works vary in media, they also vary in content. Pieces touch on cultural identity, wistful love and even mental confinement.

One example is Alsalman’s emblematic piece ‘Forming Interstices’ that represents the ethnic diversity of her native country, Iraq. Cliburn’s painting ‘Afterglow II’ depicts her discovery of the natural world.

‘The MFA candidates challenge viewers with fresh topics pertinent to today and give us an intimate look at what they’ve been creating in their studio for the past three years,’ Blaffer curator Rachel Hooper said in a release.

The sculpture ‘Untitled’ by Bender consists of objects from his bedroom and studies that he has broken and put back together in order to break free of his past. Also, Medlin’s sculpture ‘Connection’ consists of burnt wood links that symbolize her need to connect with those with which she has been separated.

On a broad scale, Zwicky’s mixed media piece ‘Digital Cabinet of Curiosities’ attempts to offer an understanding of the world by combining different cultural images.

And on a more personal scale, Gomez’s graphite picture ‘hairy nude’ serves as a self-portrait that examines the struggles within him through physical attributes.

Sloan’s sculpture of a snow globe with an overcast image of a house called ‘Global House Warming (Aunt Boo’s House)’ embodies a dreamy, childlike-state of memories.

Additional artists include Ledvina, who steps outside of the world around him and points out the eccentricities of pop culture in his watercolor and graphite painting ‘Big Drawing of a Little Boy Held by Two Art Objects.’

The digital print ‘Scream’ by Richard Wall contains reminiscent childhood emblems such as the cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle and plastic army men toys, but exposes the harsh realities of growing up with an alcoholic father. It also mentions other societal issues such as the suburban sprawl that has threatened the land around his home.

Last, Brims’ ‘Just a Whisper’ contains video stills of abstract symbolism and national identity, and Ramos’ ‘Untitled’ oil, magazine and paper piece shows a powerful natural landscape while hinting at a latent message of human fear and alienation.

Of the exhibition’s artwork and artists, the 12 artists represented have created art that ‘truly speaks to their passions,’ Hooper said in a release.

The event is free and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The exhibit runs through April 25.

2009 School of Art Masters Thesis Exhibition
April 11 through April 25
Opening reception: 6 p.m. Friday
Brown Bag tours will be offered April 15 and 22-23.
Open 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Blaffer Gallery, 120 Fine Arts Building
Free admission.

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