The Review Of My MFA Show



Contemplation, Reflection, and Refreshment

16

Chris Morring, Operor Vos Sentio Tutus? Archival Pigment Print 36 x 44 inches 2011

It’s Spring, and the month of May, and commencement time rolls around, once again — which means an opportunity to tour the Master of Fine Arts exhibitions at schools around the Bay Area. So far, I stopped by the MFA exhibition at San Francisco State University and Mills College, and this week, two other MFA exhibitions open – at the California College of the Arts (which opens tonight, at 6:00 pm), and the San Francisco Art Institute (which opens tomorrow night, Friday, May 13th, from 6-8 pm at its new exhibition site on Treasure Island.) I’ll be posting about Mills, CCA, and SFAI next week. At one of the first shows I visited, that of the graduating MFA students from San Francisco State University, I was heartened, once again, to see the thoughtfulness and sophisticated level of execution of much of the work. I’ve really enjoyed visiting this show — the quality of what I see is among the highest of all of the schools in the Bay area, likely because of the three-year duration of the program and the SFSU‘s strong faculty. Past graduates have included well-known artists Shimon Attie, Rupert Garcia, Shirley Shor, Marque Cornblatt, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ken Rinaldo, Sheldon Brown, and Reuben Lorch-Miller. The current graduates all exhibit their works actively throughout Northern California and beyond. Assistant Professor Gwen Allen remarked, “We are very proud of these six M.F.A. students. Although San Francisco State has faced the hardest economic conditions in recent memory during their time here, they have thrived, producing innovative and original work. Artists, after all, have a long tradition of turning adversity to their advantage, of creatively ‘making do.’ These students are no exception. They have shown serious commitment to their own work and generosity toward one another and towards their larger academic and artistic communities.” One thread of thought I felt runs through all of the works is the artists’ highlighting the need for reflection in our lives. Especially given our current culture’s tendency to be constantly moving to and through the next new and important thing, acts of observation and contemplation — stopping and stepping back, looking at where you’re been — become particularly essential. Chris Morring‘s beautifully crafted large black and white photographs evoke the surreal soft edges of dreams. Particularly evocative is “Operor Vos Sentio Tutus?”, a tower like structure set against a white sky, at the end of a corridor of what looks like clouds. I imagined Angie Wilson sitting for hours and hours creating her exquisitely crafted and formally stunning “Hand Knotted” series, sculptures created from used office work shirts. The grand full-sized quilt is both lovely and ironic, offering warmth through the woven uniforms of the white-collar. The painting works are particularly strong. Robert Garcia‘s reflections and recollections of his childhood, painted in a realist style with a graphic edge, evoke the powerful moments of his youth and culture. Likewise, Todd Lanham‘s paintings blended the physical real and the imaginary unreal, taking such mundane environments as a school corridor or park wall and bringing them to life with overlays of color and pattern. I was particularly impressed with the craft and sheer labor of the work of Shenny Cruces, who transforms the iconography of porcelain figurines and vessels into gorgeously composed installations that reference class, kitsch, and how the humble physicality of a totem can transcend itself through association with a memory. With “Population Flow,” Ben Carpenter plays with found objects and interactivity to create an ambitious, engaging installation that is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and sonically delightful.

Chris Morring, Natalis Laganum Ex Abyssus, Archival Pigment Print, 44 x 36 in., 2011
Chris Morring, From the series, “The Fall,” Archival Pigment Print, 44 x 36 in., 2011

Chris Morring states, “Rather than use the camera to “preserve the past,” these images transport the viewer into an alternate universe. I strive to create worlds, which make the viewer contemplate myriads of questions. Some of these questions may be mundane; others are more complex. The answers are for the viewer to decide.”

Angie Wilson, Hand Knotted #2, used office work shirts, 19 x 36 in., 2011, and Hand Knotted #3, used office work shirts, 19 x 33 in., 2011
Angie Wilson, side view of “Hand-Knotted” series 2011
Angie Wilson, detail view of “Hand-Knotted” series 2011
Angie Wilson, Hand Knotted #1, used office work shirts, 108 x 87 in., 2011
Angie Wilson, Detail view of Hand Knotted #1, used office work shirts, 108 x 87 in., 2011

Angie Wilson states, “Using the sleeves of worn dress shirts in place of individual threads in traditional rug weaving, Hand Knotted investigates the valuation and material production of labor: of the handmade, the factory-produced, and of white collar administration.”

Robert Garcia, Let Bygones Be Bygones, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011
Robert Garcia, Detail of Let Bygones Be Bygones, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011
Robert Garcia, Our…Family Portrait, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011
Robert Garcia, Detail of Our…Family Portrait, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011
Robert Garcia, Turf Wars, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011
Robert Garcia, Detail of Turf Wars, oil on wood panel, 24 x 48 in., 2011

Robert Garcia’s statement on his work: “My paintings describe specific events of my childhood and adolescence. I investigate the pivotal experiences of childhood. My intent is to exploit these influences in order to tell a story, to describe an action and create memorable characters that reflect my past, but also to create cultural signifiers that allow my viewers to vicariously find connection to their childhoods.”

Shenny Cruces, Breaking the Golden Cage, found object and porcelain, 51 x 48 x 16.5 in., 2011
Shenny Cruces, Detail of Breaking the Golden Cage, found object and porcelain, 51 x 48 x 16.5 in., 2011
Shenny Cruces, Manufacturing Memory #2, soda fired porcelain, 18 x 42 x 11 in., 2011
Shenny Cruces, Detail of Manufacturing Memory #2, soda fired porcelain, 18 x 42 x 11 in., 2011
Shenny Cruces, Georgian Collection, manufactured porcelain wares, soda fired porcelain, found object 10′ x 4′ x 5′, 2011

Shenny Cruces states, “My work is an expression of a love affair with porcelain, particularly for its associations with culture and value. I collect, cast, and recreate existing porcelain objects into sculptural forms to expose the underlying issues of class, identity, memory, and the meaning of objects in our lives.”

Todd Lanam, Her Night Wall, oil on canvas, 46 x 66 in., 2011
Todd Lanam, School Hallway, oil on canvas, 58 x 74 in., 2011
Todd Lanam, Detail of School Hallway, oil on canvas, 58 x 74 in., 2011
Park School Wall, oil on canvas, 36 x 72 in., 2011

Todd Lanam discusses his approach: “My paintings display an arena of revision and alteration, in which the struggle inherent to memory is seen through a process of covering, erasing, omitting, and revealing. This highlights the transient nature of these places, as they exist in my consciousness, and displays the distortion of reality that time creates.”

Graduating M.F.A. Ben Carpenter at his interactive and sonic creation Ben Carpenter, Population Flow, re-claimed steel & wood, and various electronics, dimensions variable 2011 Graduating M.F.A. Ben Carpenter at his interactive and sonic creation “Population Flow.”
Ben Carpenter, Population Flow, re-claimed steel & wood, and various electronics, dimensions variable 2011
Ben Carpenter, Detail of Population Flow, re-claimed steel & wood, and various electronics, dimensions variable 2011
Ben Carpenter, Detail of Population Flow, re-claimed steel & wood, and various electronics, dimensions variable 2011
Ben Carpenter, Detail of Population Flow, re-claimed steel & wood, and various electronics, dimensions variable 2011

Ben Carpenter states, “My work is about making connections. I am interested in the relationships between the symmetrical forces of our Universe and the infinite number of asymmetrical outcomes that are produced by their interactions. With these connections as my subject matter I build meditative, interactive experiences that explore our progress & evolution.”   The San Francisco State University Thesis Exhibition opened on April 23rd and runs through today, May 12th, with an additional exhibition day on Commencement, on May 21st. You can find more information here. Well-deserved congratulations to the graduating MFAs of San Francisco State University!   Posted By: JD Beltran (Email) | May 12 2011 at 02:00 PM

Listed Under: Art and Culture

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