MFA candidates show wide range of works
Artists and art lovers came together Friday to celebrate the 12 graduating Master of Fine Arts candidates and their works at the 35th UH School of Art MFA Thesis Exhibition.
The School of Art presents an exhibition each spring for their graduating students as a commemorative send-off at the Blaffer Art Museum.
This year’s talented group of artists includes Megan Badger, Christopher Cascio, Erica Ciesielski Chaikin, Fiona Cochran, Carrie Cook, Stacey Farrell, El Franco Lee II, Elicia Garcia, Jessica Ninci, Stephan Paré, Jasleen Sarai and Katelin Washmon.
A diverse and refreshing showcase of art, the MFA Thesis Exhibition represents works from the five departments in the UH Master of Fine Arts Program: Graphic Communications, Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms, Painting, Photography/Digital Media and Sculpture.
The exhibit features a variety of works, including personal photographs by Stacey Farrell, capturing the changing role of women in families with her four daughters. In painting, El Franco Lee II experiments with historically and racially charged real-life crime incidents with actual security camera footage and fantasy scenes among athletes, rappers and other African-American figures. Megan Badger, who applies paint to photographs, uses both mediums to highlight evidence of magical realism that can be found every day.
Among the still life, Jasleen Sarai gave a captivating performance on opening night as she designed an architectural space on the floor of Blaffer using colorful tape. Sarai constructed five dwellings, intended to represent territory, security, privacy, comfort and luxury, on the grounds between Blaffer and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.
Coming from an architectural background, Sarai’s inspiration came from a desire to improvise with building and demonstrate how you can create your own spaces.
“In reality, most of the architecture that’s around the world is not necessarily considered architecture, but more like living spaces — they’re very improvised, they’re born out of different constraints, and so that’s why I decided to do this live performance,” Sarai said.
Another popular artist of the night, Elicia Garcia, challenged audiences to look at world issues through an American lens and engage their social memory with her cutout fabrics of front pages from various issues of The New York Times.
Garcia reveals values, patterns and unintentional photos within the cutouts by displaying only the images printed from the front pages by displaying only the images printed from the front pages.
“There’s repeating things of extreme happiness and sadness with war — this is the world, and this is what happens, and the pattern is really beautiful,” Garcia said.
Through her piece, Garcia hopes audiences will understand the connections between photos.
“To see what’s happening without somebody’s words telling you what it’s about, so you don’t have to hear somebody in your ear; you get to make your own story,” Garcia said.
Like Sarai and Garcia, many of the MFA students projected comprehensive studies of different life matters through their creations.
Artist Chris Cascio’s installation of objects, images and symbols of narcotics, entitled “Dead Soldiers,” resonated among viewers who hope to see more of his work.
“I think Chris Cascio needs to write up something really nice and try to get a grant to make those exact bags into actual bags,” said Nirvana Trey, a patron of the museum.
“We’re 20-somethings in Houston, so we can relate to it. His work is so explicit and out there; it would make great novelty bags,” Trey said.
The artists also gave audiences the opportunity to experience the art for themselves with interactive pieces including a sewing canvas and a station with individual headphones with different audio tracks.
The MFA graduate candidates demonstrate innovation, passion and vision that cannot be contained and their works are a testament of the bright creative future that awaits them.
The MFA Thesis Exhibition will remain on display in Blaffer Art until April 13.