Spring 2016 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition
April 1 - 14, 2016
"There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism."—Walter Benjamin
Terry Campbell, Catherine Cartwright, Kellye Eisworth, Megan Gafford, Nicole Krou, Zak Loyd and Eric Stewart explore the rationale and irrationality of the current disquiet that pervades our time. In our postmodern, post-9/11, even post-human experience, the occurrence of crisis has become a break in the mundane, a way to mark time. These moments of disruption allow us to see the spaces in which privilege, stereotypes and irrational fear are upheld and even valued. They open a hole through which we can work away at broken institutions, conventions and values that appear natural. The regularity of crisis allows us to begin to re-evaluate perception, to pull the curtain back to reveal not answers—but further questions about authority and authenticity.
Terry Campbell guides us through questions about how his work can extend beyond its own subjective limits, illustrated by film stills from his mind. While he questions whose position it is to substantiate narrative, he uses particularly abnormal events to illustrate the impossibility of documenting reality without one foot firmly planted in the mundane. Megan Gafford and Nicole Krou present constructed environments that are meant to draw our attention to the unnatural and supernatural. While Nicole deconstructs tropes of the natural history museum, revealing the conflicting values at play in such an unnatural space, Megan explores the sublime—allowing viewers to glimpse subatomic particles dancing in an isopropanol cloud, forcing us to reconcile fears of radioactivity with wonder and awe. Catherine Cartwright and Kellye Eisworth delve into the ways women’s bodies are inscribed dually by the gaze of culture and internalized experience. Kellye’s vignettes portray emotional and physical pain inscribed on the body. She shows us secret spaces that represent traumas, forcing us to consider the position of power from which we are able to look. Catherine’s collaboration with her daughter Victoria demonstrates the performative act of motherhood, an exercise in balancing conflicting needs of two individuals who are interminably linked. Zak Loyd and Eric Stewart utilize outmoded technologies that are the subjects of intense personal engagement. Eric mines the archive of film technologies to re-animate the popular genre of Internet GIFs onto black and white celluloid film, questioning shifting values of authenticity and reproducibility, materiality and ephemerality. Zak’s installation foregrounds the importance of the Cathode Ray Television in his personal iconography, which also includes symbolism from American pop culture, occult spirituality and commercial television with its inherent sexuality and violence.
Whether investigative, humorous, transgressive or cautiously skeptical, the works in this exhibition are taking the temperature, probing beyond the crises that punctuate our times and looking critically at the state of our culture. While ultimately these introspections produce more questions than answers, we believe that we must confront our barbarity to grasp at the possibility of civility.
- Arielle M. Myers, masters candidate, department of art & art history