MFA exhibition to feature work of 27 at Kemper

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will present its annual MFA Thesis Exhibition in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum beginning Friday, May 8. The exhibition will feature thesis projects by 27 master of fine arts candidates in the Sam Fox School’s Graduate School of Art.

Works will explore a wide range of thematic territory, from formal concerns to social issues, ecological simulations and scientific research. Media include painting, printmaking and sculpture as well as photography, video and site-specific installation.

J. Taylor Wallace used a rocking chair, X-ray film, freshwater mollusk shells, taxidermy fish forms, wood and stainless steel to create “Daydream (Paradigms of Tennessee),” part of the MFA Thesis Exhibition on view at Kemper Art Museum May 8-July 27.

“We live in an age that represents enormous richness in terms of diversity of perspective and both overlapping and contrasting interests,” said Patricia Olynyk, the Florence and Frank Bush Professor in Art and director of the Graduate School of Art. “The range of issues that confront today’s artists also challenge our artists-in-training.

“It is no surprise that so many of our students are responding to global sociopolitical and economic forces and environmental issues with a sense of urgency,” Olynyk said. “Public practices are central to their concerns, and they are skilled in navigating emerging technologies while offering playful counterpoints to the all-pervasive influence of digital media.”

For example, Rebecca C. Potts’ digital prints contemplate the effects of global warming through an almost geological strata of paper, photographs, maps, melting ice and growing plants. Natalie Toney’s politically charged video “PTSPEACE” centers on military veterans and draws from psychology, medicine and social services as well as film and the visual arts. Process-oriented sculpture by Amelia Jones explores the reuse of found materials, while Joel Parker wittily conflates college parties and historical painting.

“No single medium, narrative direction theoretical stance or sociopolitical position takes precedent over another,” Olynyk said. “Likewise, our students engage in a broad spectrum of creative methodologies and intellectual frameworks and are taught to balance ‘making’ with the production of ideas.”

The MFA Thesis Exhibition is curated by Meredith Malone, assistant curator for the Kemper Art Museum. Other exhibiting artists are: Stephanie Barenz, Carolyn Dawn Bendel, Jacob Cruzen, Rachel Ann Dennis, Bryan Eaton, Maya Escobar, Meredith Foster, Morgan Gehris, Gina Grafos, Stephen Hoskins, Hye Young Kim, Anne Lindberg, Goran Maric, Kelda Martensen, Erica L. Millspaugh, Carianne Noga, Shannon Randol, Elaine Rickles, Michael Kenneth Smith, Dan Solberg, Glenn Tramantano, Kathryn Trout and J. Taylor Wallace.

The exhibition will open with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8, and remain on view through July 27. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Sam Fox School will sponsor an open house and panel discussion at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Students will be present in the Kemper Art Museum and available to answer questions about works on view.

The panel discussion — which will touch on issues of place, identity, online artistic practice and the artist and society — will begin at 5 p.m. in Steinberg Auditorium, located immediately adjacent to the museum.

In addition, the school will host a satellite exhibition, titled “Runneth Over,” at the University’s South Campus (formerly Christian Brothers College High School) from May 9-22.

Both exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4523 or visit