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Arts masters’ exhibit the ‘bee’s knees’

Part 1 of the NextWave

Live bees and QR codes might be the buzz at an exhibit at the Ohio State Urban Arts Space.

Part one of the NextWave: 2012 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition is scheduled to open Wednesday at the OSU Urban Arts Space. The exhibition will showcase the work of 13 OSU students completing their MFA degrees this quarter. A free reception will be held at the Urban Arts Space Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Refreshments and informal discussion with the artists and curators will be included,

The exhibition, in addition to written theses from the students, serves as a capstone for the MFA program, said Michael Hardesty, MFA program coordinator at OSU.

“The work represented within the 2012 Thesis Exhibition is a culmination of two years of research and development within their studio practice,” Hardesty said. “The broad breadth of artwork showcases the diverse talents of this graduating class.”

Leigh Lotocki, communications coordinator at the Urban Arts Space, said OSU’s MFA program is one of the best in the country.

“It’s gaining esteem from the art field and the community, so we’re really proud of our students, we’re proud of our faculty,” Lotocki said. “This is one of our trademark shows. We do this every year, and we’re always really excited about it.”

Lotocki said the exhibition is a step for students at different points in their art careers, giving them the chance to develop their voices and present their research.

“It is a way for them to explore more what might be their definitive topic or work style, or a way for them to explore one small facet of many things that they’re interested in,” she said.

Lauri Murphy, whose laser-cut works often focus on issues of environmental crisis and damage, will feature an observation hive filled with about 6,000 bees. The piece will consist of an architectural setting atop a grate under which the beehive will be kept.

The piece will rely on the bees to build their combs around the structure, to “obscure it and cover our architecture with their architecture,” Murphy said.

Another artist, John McCaughey, will showcase pieces that stray away from his study’s focus, printmaking. McCaughey will instead focus on the use of QR codes, codes scannable with a phone that redirect you to information about a product, and surveillance. One piece by McCaughey features a QR code that links to a live camera feed of the Urban Arts Space’s entrance.

“If you have an iPhone, you can participate in this piece by scanning it with your QR reader,” McCaughey said. “You have this power to watch people from now on. You can walk around the gallery with your phone and still see who’s coming in and out of the gallery.”

The 10,000-square-foot gallery has been showcasing students’ work since opening in 2008.

Hardesty said since moving the exhibition to the Urban Arts Space, after previously displaying students’ art in private galleries and a pre-renovated Hopkins Hall, it has become even larger than before, with an average attendance of between 500 and 800 people at receptions.

Even for those skeptical of contemporary art, guest curator of the exhibition Sarah Rogers assured the exhibition offers something for everyone.

“I think (audiences will) find that contemporary artists are thinking about some of the same things that you and I are thinking about in our everyday life … but they’re able to express it and get (you) to think about that in a different way,” Rogers said. “This is what’s so exciting about art.”

The first part of the exhibition runs through April 21 and a second part of the exhibition, with a second group of MFA artists, will run from April 28 through May 12. All Urban Arts Space exhibitions are free to the public.

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