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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Fine Arts

Artists to exhibit masterpieces


The 36th annual Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition will present works from 18 candidates from five departments of the School of Art. | Courtesy of Jeremy Underwood

The School of Art will hold its 36th annual Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition Friday at the Blaffer Art Museum.

The exhibit will feature 18 candidates who will graduate from the school’s five departments: graphic communications, interdisciplinary practice and emerging forms, painting, photography/digital media and sculpture.

Art history master’s candidate Maria Granato Sharon is the organizer for the event and said the art thesis will be the final display of work. The works will be presented to the graduate committees.

“It’s awesome that it’s also open to the public as well, rather than just having a jury judging your final work,” Granato Sharon said. “To actually be able to display and also have the public see it and have that relationship with the community of Houston in general is really good as well.”

In addition to the traditional art forms such as drawing, painting and photography, the exhibit will also include conceptual videos, performances and installations. Granato Sharon said there is something for everyone at the exhibit, even for the first-time visitor.

Granato Sharon said the only difference between this year’s exhibition and the previous year’s is the growing number of candidates. Last year’s exhibition featured only 12 candidates.

“I like that it’s a bigger number,” Granato Sharon said.  “It also proves that the School of Art is continuing to produce these artists, because you get more of a variety of works within the actual exhibition.”

Third-year MFA painting candidate Bradley Kerl said the process of selecting the committees included meeting with professors.

“We are required to have three professors from our respective disciplines and at least one from outside our disciplines,” Kerl said. “In my case, I have four painting faculty and one art critic/poet on my grad committee. Ideally, you would choose a group of people you respect and who will also challenge you to become better at what you are doing.”

Kerl wants the UH community to know an incredible amount of great artwork is produced in the School of Art, from undergraduates and graduates alike.

“For first-time visitors, I would encourage an open mind. There is so much to appreciate about art, even if you have no knowledge of the history of or making of art,” Kerl said. “Start with the basics. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Then ask yourself why. Try to push beyond your initial gut reaction.”

Much of the work is current, and each of the candidates were given designated spaces. Sometimes, the candidates don’t have what they’re going to display, what they’re working on or what they might possibly bring to the show at the museum, according to Granato Sharon.

“It’s a matter of seeing how they work and their working style and determining from there kind of where their space means were,” Granato Sharon said.

At times, the spaces had to be shifted around because of larger art works.

“Some of it has changed significantly from what they originally decided, which is amazing — I like it,” Granato Sharon said. “I like that they brought ultra-new works in some cases, and it wasn’t even what they proposed before. It’s really nice.”

One candidate was in a designated space but then decided to use the ledge to the staircase to use the museum’s windows to help display window transparencies.

Kerl will have five paintings on display at the exhibition. All of his paintings are oil-on-canvas, with the largest painting featuring a fish tank. Other paintings include a brick wall in a landscape sunset and doorway paintings.

“All of the paintings are untitled at this point, but I’d like to title them someday,” Kerl said. “I’m inspired to paint the things I do by my immediate environment and things, ideas, situations that most people take for granted or don’t notice at all. I approach my painting practice with equal parts seriousness, goofiness and cynicism.”

Third-year MFA sculpture candidate Betsy Huete will have a book and three sculptures on display.

“For the book, I remix found language into poems and nonsensical essays,” Huete said. “The sculptures are material translations of the poems. It’s essentially writing but with objects instead of words.”

For Huete’s inspiration, she said she often thinks about hidden meaning in texts and books.

“I think that what we can make sense of in a novel, for instance, is only scratching the surface, and there’s a lot more that can be gleaned from mixing up and abstracting the language,” Huete said. “Really, I’m thinking about the same things whether I’m writing a book or building a sculpture.”

The 36th annual Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition and reception will be from 6 to 9 p.m., and the exhibit will run from Friday through April 19. For more information, visit the Blaffer Art Museum website.

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