34th Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition

The UH School of Art, Blaffer Art Museum and DiverseWorks ArtSpace are proud to announce the 34th School of Art Masters’ Thesis Exhibition, on view from April 28–May 12, 2012 at DiverseWorks ArtSpace at 1117 East Freeway. An opening reception will be held Friday, April 27 from 6–9pm.

The exhibition features works by Danilo Bojic, Ted Closson, Sebastian Forray, Lisa Garrett, Steven Hook, Chuck Ivy, Rosine Kouamen, Natali Leduc, Emily McGrew, Abi Semtner, and M’kina Tapscott. These eleven graduating students represent five departments in the UH Masters of Fine Arts Program: Graphic Communications, Painting, Photography/Digital Media, and Sculpture. Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms is the fifth and newest department, and this year Chuck Ivy will be its first MFA graduate. The Masters’ Thesis exhibition is designed to showcase individual work and to premiere its participants as professional artists who will go on to form new projects and imagine as yet unthought-of possibilities in Houston and beyond.

Each artist sources materials from their diverse experiences. Representing sculpture and graphic design, two artists create immersive built environments. Natali Leduc’s kinetic wooden sculpture manages whimsy despite its dominating size, a contraption whose construction and movement evokes the figure of the artist as amateur inventor. Danilo Bojic’s What Goes Around Comes Around chronicles the artist’s geographic and intellectual trajectories. Bojic explores data visualization, using sculptural installation, graphic design, and video as his primary tools.

Collectivity and collaboration inform the works by Sebastian Forray and Ted Closson. Forray commissioned five painters with whom he shares close personal ties to help produce his work, challenging what constitutes authorship and self-representation. Within the exhibition, Closson organizes a comic book convention as a mode of display and commerce in which to situate his current project, a graphic novel titled The Lorica.

Steven Hook’s large canvases play with dichotomies to complicate their distinguishing qualities: order and chaos, pastoral and urban, figure and ground. His accompanying video documents his painting process while also activating it through a different medium. Where Hook’s process is heavily layered and labored, Emily McGrew’s canvases are bright, fresh and immediate, their feminine subjects painted from a combination of photography and the artist’s embellished memories.

Rosine Kouamen mines cultural nostalgia, both her own and in the broad network of Houston’s African diaspora. Her new series of photographs depict their first generation immigrant subjects as they live in their everyday surroundings, where profound attachments and familial memories lie just beneath the surface of the image. Abi Semtner is also inspired by family histories, which she translates through her obsessive, often subtle manipulations of delicate materials: cotton, embroidery thread, vintage parchment paper. M’Kina Tapscott’s sculpture and ceramic assemblages offer careful experimentations with the promise of materials to yield new insights into questions of race, class, identity and identification.

On the other end of scale and luminosity Lisa Garrett’s neon signs assert bright, custom-built graphics and lend an atmosphere of spectacle to the exhibition while her repurposed banners emphasize the role of graphic design in community making and marking. Also commenting on the viewer’s place within collective systems, Chuck Ivy’s new media work wages visual and auditory interference on clips from Inspector Clouseau cartoons using live audio from the Houston Police dispatch. The work itself is a kind of system that viewers to the exhibition physically activate with their movements.

The exhibition catalogue is designed and produced by graphics communication students led by Associate Professor Fiona McGettigan and features an introductory essay by Jenni Sorkin, Assistant Professor of Art History at UH. Copies will be available at DiverseWorks, the UH School of Art main office, and at Blaffer Art Museum’s temporary offices. The museum itself is currently closed for renovation with temporary offices at the UH Energy Research Park, 5000 Gulf Freeway, Building #10. For more information about the renovation and future exhibitions and programs, please visit www.blafferartmuseum.org.

The 34th School of Art Masters’ Thesis Exhibition is made possible by the University of Houston’s Student Fees Advisory Committee. Support for the catalog is generously provided by Cecily Horton and Judy and Scott Nyquist.

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