‘Anterior’ by Sage Lewis made from charcoal and pastel on a laster toner enlargement print. The work of MFA graduate students is set to be showcased in The Mirage and the Rainbow: 2014 Department of Art Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition.
Credit: Courtesy of Merijn van der Heijden

Warm exhaled breaths reveal the visual work of one artist.

David Knox, a third-year graduate student pursuing a master’s of fine arts at Ohio State, is planning to showcase his work — which includes an interactive piece that invites visitors to breathe against a piece of acrylic glass — in an art exhibit scheduled open Saturday.

When two visitors are breathing against each side of the acrylic glass, the beads of condensation from their exhalations reveals various of words on the art work. As soon as their breaths dissipate, the words disappear on the acrylic work, Knox said.

His work and that of other MFA graduate students is set to be showcased in The Mirage and the Rainbow: 2014 Department of Art Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition. The gallery is slated to hold the students’ thesis work for completing their degrees in the Department of Art and is to be open to the public through March 15 at the Urban Arts Space downtown.

The art to be showcased includes a wide variety of mediums including paintings, sculptures, glass pieces, prints, ceramics and art and technology pieces.

Keith Garubba, a third-year MFA graduate student, is planning to showcase mixed media and sculptural works which include silkscreen, a type of printmaking process. He also plans on revealing an interactive form of artwork that includes drip paintings. In his interactive work, Garubba invents a fictional story of a doctor fascinated by paint drips and uses the story line to invite visitors to make their own paint drips.

Garubba said he is excited to see how his interactive piece will play out in the exhibit.

“It’s been exciting because I’ve had the luxury of making work that I have never made before and taking risks that I may not be able to in other contexts,” Garubba said.

Leah Frankel, another third-year MFA graduate student, is arranging two mixed media installations. One of her pieces is an installation that is made up of a suspended steel bowl with water contained in it and a ring of light coming in from outside. The other piece focuses on the intersection of two lines.

She also plans to display linoleum block prints with digital animation to help showcase the succession of the prints.

Sage Lewis, also a third-year MFA graduate student, plans on showcasing some of her sculptural carbon-paper forms she made in early 2013. For these constructions, she said she constructed the carbon paper, crushed the paper through a printmaking press and then constructed the paper into a 3-D shape. She also photographed and drew her 3-D subjects using materials such as charcoal and pastel.

Many of the students said their artwork evolved as they prepared for the exhibit. Frankel said she had to focus on making sure pieces of artwork were going to work together and learn how to adjust and “create art within the architecture of the room.” She also said she had to concentrate on taking feedback from other people and take it into consideration for her art.

“It’s hard to know what’s going to be in the show until right before the show. Feedback changes from different people. You get a lot of different advice from people. So, it’s really tricky,” Frankel said.

Other students said they have themes or ideas about their artwork. Knox said his projects are focused on the act of encountering language and words.

“Language is something that we use to speak but it’s never visual when we use the mouth,” Knox said.

Knox is planning to showcase digital prints of his artwork and technological art that involves recorded voices.

Inspiration comes from different places for the artists in this exhibition.

Lewis’ inspiration for her artwork comes from contemporary and historical examples of architecture, while Garubba’s inspiration for his piece involving the paint drips comes from his fascination in “how science and art work together and how they (both) get into each other’s ways.”

Lewis said she is enthusiastic about the exhibit because she will be able to showcase her own work.

“In our graduate program, we’re in the studio constantly making work for two and a half years. This is a chance to step back from that and look at what we’ve done,” Lewis said.

Frankel shared Lewis’ enthusiasm.

“It’s always rewarding and satisfying to see the work in the gallery and outside of the studio. I’m happy to have it (art pieces) ready to be shown and to hear people’s feedback,” Frankel said.

The exhibit is also set to have a public reception Feb. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. where visitors are welcome to food and refreshments and can have conversations with the artists individually about their work. An artist panel discussion is set for Feb. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m., where eight of the artists are set to give a lecture to the audience about their work in the show.