Hot on the heels of last week’s BFA exhibit BLiNK comes the 2012 MFA Thesis Exhibition. Featuring the work of seven emerging contemporary artists, all of whom are completing their Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts at UVic, this exhibit is always one of the most anticipated shows of the year.
Each of the artists—Steven Brekelmans, Heather Carey, Jessica Karuhanga, Dong-Kyoon Nam, Sasha Opeiko, Anne J. Steves and Matt Trahan—has a drastically different approach to making art, reflective of the various nature of contemporary art practice in the world at large. With an entire room in the Visual Arts building dedicated to each artist, the MFA exhibit differs from the BFA exhibit in that it allows a more focused, more dedicated look at their work.
“These graduate students have come together from different parts of Canada and the world and have taken two years out of their lives to devote to art making,” explains associate Visual Arts professor Lynda Gammon. “Each student took up residency in one of the studio spaces and each has established a practice and a mode of working. At the end of the two years, these student works are now sufficiently tested and completed and are ready to move from the studio into the public arena of the gallery.”
Just as the other Fine Arts departments have their own graduating recitals, concerts, theatrical performances or readings, this is the chance for the campus to see what the Visual Arts graduate students have achieved during their time in the program. “This is a thesis exhibition and, as such, each student is required to defend their exhibition before a committee comprised of a chair, a supervisor, two committee members and an external examiner,” continues Gammon. “This work is the graduate student’s independent research; it represents new ways of thinking. As such, the works in their exhibition present new knowledge. After much critical discussion and testing against contemporary theoretical discourse and practice in their area of study, this new work is now ready for critical reception in the larger world of public galleries and museums.”
More than just compiling a body of work, however, Gammon points out that the MFA students have also learned how professional artists live and work within the complex world of contemporary art. “They have gained experience conducting studio visits with visiting artists, learned how to talk critically about their work and the work of others,” she notes. “They have gained confidence and experience writing about their work.
“For these students, this two years has been a space of interchange between art objects, activities and people,” she continues. “They have taken courses, participated in seminars and been immersed in a diverse and interrelated dialogue, through critical discussion with faculty members and artists visiting from across Canada, the United States and Europe. They have had the opportunity to teach undergraduate students under the mentorship of regular faculty members in the department; this has prepared them for teaching positions at the university level.”
Ultimately, Gammon expects great things from this year’s batch of graduates. “As our past MFA’s have exemplified, the work these students have completed will go on to be exhibited in major contemporary art galleries and museums in Canada and elsewhere,” she says. “As such, our graduate students and their work become a part of a larger contemporary arts scene and will become a part of a larger dialogue around artistic practice.”
The MFA Thesis Exhibition runs through to Saturday, May 12, in UVic’s Visual Arts building. It’s open for viewing Monday to Friday 10 am – 5pm, Saturday 1-4 pm. And it’s free, of course!