Opening reception: March 29, 6-9pm. Performances by Jasleen Sarai (6-8pm) and Stephen Paré in collaboration with Earthen Vessels, choreography by Sandra Organ Solis (7:00pm and 8:00pm).
Blaffer is proud to present this exhibition of works by twelve graduating MFA candidates from the UH School of Art in 2013: Megan Badger, Christopher Cascio, Erica Ciesielski Chaikin, Fiona Cochran, Carrie Cook, Stacey Farrell, El Franco Lee II, Elicia Garcia, Jessica Ninci, Stephen Paré, Jasleen Sarai, and Katelin Washmon. These artists represent five departments in the UH Masters of Fine Arts Program: Graphic Communications, Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms, Painting, Photography/Digital Media, and Sculpture.
Text excerpted from the exhibition catalogue’s introductory essay by Amy Powell, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at Blaffer Art Museum:
Many of the exhibition’s artists offer sometimes succinct and sometimes sprawling conceptualizations of larger, impossible projects. Christopher Cascio hoards objects, images, and symbols of narcotics culture, displaying his findings on canvas or through installation. Bright and dynamic, the works hope to order a system out of utter chaos and the sheer proliferation of personal attachments. Katelin Washmon is interested in dust and discarded bodily material. Through printed wallpaper and photographs, she amplifies minutiae through decorative means. Fiona Cochran deftly attends to the work of the work of art. Making to-scale recreations of canonical paintings, sculptures, and even performances, she treats discursive meaning as something that can be distilled and rendered through more efficient means.
Others experiment with intimacies of scale. Carrie Cook paints and makes photographic collages from scenes and objects in the natural world – shells, rocks, the moon, a James Turrell Skyspace. Ranging from large vertical canvases to collections of small images showcasing color, texture, and light, Cook’s work demonstrates the quiet powers of juxtaposition. Jessica Ninci performs quick gestures in spray paint on canvases of varying sizes. She installs the works in careful relation to one another, bringing elements from her studio process into the
gallery. Jasleen Sarai constructed five dwellings on the grounds between Blaffer and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, intended to represent territory, security, privacy, comfort, and luxury. In the museum, she designs a system to chronicle and gauge the value of each dwelling and displays the remnants from her opening night performance in which she implied yet another architectural space amidst the gallery’s existing conditions.
Stacey Farrell uses photography to investigate the changing role of women in families. Farrell collaborates with her four daughters to offer intimate views showcasing the complexities bound up in looking, desire, and age. In painting, El Franco Lee II portrays historically and racially charged real-life crime incidents and fantasy scenes among athletes, rappers, and other over-the-top black American figures. His experimentations with scale, color, composition, and painting technique match the effect of his scenes that live large in the social imaginary.
Many artists conjure imagined possible worlds. Megan Badger applies paint to photographs, using both mediums to highlight evidence of magical realism that can be found every day. Stephen Paré invites audiences to join his completely immersive environments through narrative, poetry, theatre, dance, music, and digitally manipulated imagery. Elicia Garcia and Erica Ciesielski Chaikin are both deeply invested in questions of medium and dissemination. Using hanging fabric printed to suggest the front pages of major circulating newspapers, Garcia lends a structural dimension to archives of social memory. Chaikin explores typography, design, and craft through two large panels featuring hand-stitching, which invite the viewer to contribute to the work.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue designed and produced by Associate Professor Fiona McGettigan’s Junior II Graphic Communications class using the design of UH student Gregg Jackson and features an introductory essay by Amy Powell, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at Blaffer Art Museum. Copies will be available at the UH School of Art main office and at Blaffer Art Museum.
The 35th School of Art Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition is made possible by the University of Houston’s Student Fees Advisory Committee.