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NIU Graduate Arts Association » Blog Archive » 1035 Days – NIU MFA Final Exhibition

1035 Days – NIU MFA Final Exhibition

Show opening: May 4, 2014, 5-8pm
Ebersmoore Gallery (350 North Ogden Ave, Suite 100, Chicago)

Northern Illinois University’s School of Art presents: “1035 DAYS – NIU MFA Final Exhibition.” Fifteen MFA candidates will present work in a variety of media.

The three-year long program brought together aspiring artists from the area spanning from Tennessee to Minnesota with two students coming by way of Eastern Europe. At Northern, graduate students work in a variety of mediums, such as printmaking, painting, sculpture, fibers, photography, metals and ceramics and are privileged to work closely with professors outside of their primary discipline.

While formally diverse, the work that comes out of the NIU’s Graduate Art Program is very personal in character. The artists reveal their own individual histories addressing the culture they grew up in, family relationships as well as their physical, emotional and mental states of being.

The experience of growing up will likely determine our personalities and habits. In the form of memories, we reexamine this collection of experiences and translate it into visual terms. Attempting to sort out fact from fiction Katy Bisby creates drawings and paintings that depict the strange characters and beliefs of the Bible Belt community where she grew up. Employing pop culture icons in her performances and installations, Mary Hintzen is dealing with the onset of disillusionment with the adult life – the realization that the promised fairy tale is not only unattainable but is altogether fake.

A culture of myth is also prominent in Michael Weigman’swork: in the collection of prints titled “Midwest Moon Fog” he represents the culture of Black Metal as he experienced it growing up in the suburban Midwest. Exposing the parallels between the narratives of superheroes and those of religion, printmakerAaron Coleman expresses his frustration with prejudice and racism. Amelia Spinney’s brightly colored confrontational screen prints infuse with dark humor the difficult and commonly avoided social issues and situations. In contrast, Kathy McDonald’s immaculately crafted whimsical ceramic sculptures of invented creatures are amusing and playful.

Some artists delve into their inner worlds – through imaginary characters and peculiar environments they confront the ambiguity and ambivalence of life in ways that are both poetic and grotesque. In a collection of oil paintings titled “Fifty Things Going Through My Head,” Ryan Burns depicts an unlikely comic-based character whose phantasmagorical adventures can’t be taken lightly. Garran Gillespie’s prints and drawings contain odd, uncomfortable juxtapositions – a portrait of a little girl with the face of an old man – that question the dichotomy of good and evil.Brian Montana appears as the character of his video installation, “I Captured You with a Word. Tied Down by Breath.” – lyrical and theatrical, it visually manipulates the laws of the universe in an attempt to comprehend our own existence within its vastness.

Close observation reveals an intimate knowledge of that which is immediate. Jason Judd is carefully navigating along a route that has no determined end point: it is the encounters along the way that inform his minimalist multi-media installations. Juan Fernandez’s austere photographs feature isolated shapes, structures or faces, which, upon closer examination, reveal oddities. Looking beyond appearances, Anna Miller uses woven aluminum mesh to create corporeal entities, who by their nature are unable to keep anything hidden. Maria Dimanshtein makes work about self-reflection and relationships: her interactive contemplative installations become complete with the participation of the audience.

Emily Franklin stages bright and pattern-rich photographs that bring to focus recognizable cultural moments or objects, universal in the collective American consciousness, yet echoing a personal history. The story of her family is the focus of Polish-born Iga Puchalska’s work: through classic hand-drawn animation she examines her family relationships as well as the experience of immigration.


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