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MFA thesis exhibition lets graduating students experiment

Art MFA student Rose Stark sits inside her interactive installation “Transluminal.” Credit: Nicholas Youngblood | Lantern Reporter

The Urban Arts Space will be home to the Department of Art’s MFA thesis exhibition starting Tuesday.

Titled “Ex:perimental; Punctu[a]tion,” the exhibition seeks to showcase the growth of master’s students reaching the end of their three-year journey in the program. Throughout the gallery, there is a running theme of uninhibited exploration, as nearly every piece represents a significant step outside of its creator’s comfort zone.

“Grad school for artists is … being in an environment where you can do the weird stuff — the stuff you’ve been thinking about, but might not work out, and you can fail on repeat,” Teri Bailey, one of the MFA students featured in the exhibition, said.

Bailey works primarily with glass, but has taken a step beyond her usual process for her final work at Ohio State.

Her piece, called “Material Bodies,” involves placing delicate, irregularly shaped glass shells onto a 20-foot wall she constructed in the gallery, attached loosely to the structure with rice paper. As the piece ages, the rice paper will deteriorate, letting the glass fall to the floor and shatter. Bailey said her piece represents how we deal with loss over time.
A work like “Material Bodies” is an ambitious undertaking for a young artist, but Bailey said that the Department of Art’s supportive faculty made it possible.

Bailey took advantage of the role that the Department of Art plays in pushing its students to branch out into new mediums. In this final exhibition, painters are making sculptures, printers are constructing installations and sculptors are recording video.

Art MFA student Ethan Rucker stands in front of his painting ” Waggin’ Wheel.” Credit: Nicholas Youngblood | Lantern Reporter

Rose Stark, one of the featured artists, worked in animation for six years before coming to the university’s art program. She said she wanted to move off-screen and work in three-dimensional space.

Her piece in the gallery, titled “Transluminal,” showcases abstractions of human physiology in the form of mixed media sculptures accompanied by video art. The piece presents an exaggerated look at the human body. Stark said her previous work in animation definitely influenced the project.

“Other things about animation like humor and gags are things I’m interested in, too, and just exaggeration and absurdity,” Stark said. “I think all of those things are just a part of my own language.”

Stark also said she appreciated the freedom afforded by the MFA program. Her time in grad school allowed her to experiment without financial or professional constraints, she said.

“Transluminal” presented many challenges that she was able to overcome with the help of the department. Stark learned to weld just last semester, which proved instrumental in the piece’s construction.

Despite their praise of the invaluable support provided by the Department of Art, the graduating artists said they are ready to move on. The art world outside of academia may be a risky and uncertain one, but many of the students said they feel prepared.

“I think that the space will be really nice to flesh out which thoughts are mine and be able to sift through the mess of all the feedback I’ve gotten over the last three years and let my own ideas rise out of that,” featured sculptor Kellie Borhoft said. “But as an artist, you’re always involved in some sort of community. There’s always curators, there’s always writers, and other artists you’re working beside.”

While there is no explicit theme to the gallery, every piece in “Ex:perimental; Punctu[a]tion” shares a common thread closely related to the exhibition’s odd name. They each represent an experiment – a departure from the norm – that will dot the ongoing careers of those involved.

“Ex:perimental; Punctu[a]tion” runs from Feb. 19 to March 16, with a reception on March 2.

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