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MCAD�MFA

WHERE CREATIVITY MEETS PURPOSE


Note from the Director The Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies graduating class of 2017 reflects the high level of creative work, research, and inquiry that continues to elevate the Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduate experience. As you look through this beautiful thesis exhibition catalog, you will encounter nineteen distinct visions and directions in creative practice. The statements and artwork represent two years of rigorous study and studio work reflecting a range of voices that are diverse, informed, and exciting. Through each student’s thesis work we have a better understanding of who we are in the world and how our values are formed through the daily experience of art and design. This collective practice is a living, breathing testament to the importance of creative vision and the ability to transform both the maker and audience with ideals of hope and inspiration. The qualities of this mastery are present in the time, focus, and skill that these graduates demonstrate in their work as they move into professional practice having become lively contributors to the national and international creative economy. The mentors, faculty, and staff who have had the privilege of supporting these students wish them the best of good fortune as they move forward with their careers. On a personal note, I truly have enjoyed the opportunity to work with each of the graduates. These remarkable individuals have come together from diverse backgrounds and built a world-class community of makers during their two years of graduate study. As these graduates become alumni, I’d like them to know they will always be a part of the ongoing heartbeat of the Master of Fine Arts program and have a home here at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Tom DeBiaso Director and Professor Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies


Drawing and Painting

Michaela M. Chorn

Yijia Li

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Filmmaking

Aaron Olson-Reiners

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Erin Sandsmark

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Graphic Design

Cole Seidl

Sihai Zhu

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18

Joe Letchford

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Xiaohan Ma

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Illustration

Dan Romanoski

Suyao Tian

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Interdisciplinary

Photography

Heather Peebles

Shiraz Mukarram

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Dana Kristine Cheit

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Jacob Yeates

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Chelsea Reeck

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Sculpture

Jesse R. Lentz

Samantha Russell

Joel Terry

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Bianca Jarvis

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Michaela M. Chorn

Yijia Li


Aaron Olson-Reiners

Erin Sandsmark


michaelachornart.com Anoka, Minnesota, USA Drawing and Painting

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Michaela M. Chorn Material and labor remain at the core of my practice. Through an urgency of mark making, I create objects that foster a sensory experience between the viewer and the artwork. My studio practice has become performative, while the process of making remains meditative. I am able to more logically respond to the fast-paced and technology dependent world through an intuitive making process. And, I consider the varied spectrum of labor, from handmade objects to works created using machinery, and how these different types of labor contribute to the solicitation of empathy from the viewer.

my making processes. As Jiro Yoshihara stated: “The thing that is most important to us is for contemporary art to act as a free space that provides people living in these severe times with the greatest emancipation. It is our deep-seated belief that creativity in a free space will truly contribute to the development of the human race.� 1

I work instinctively, responding to the events of the world. While my work is not specifically about politics, it is motivated by my reactions to personal, national, and international events. These reactions guide

1 Ming Tiampo, Gutai: Decentering Modernism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011), 41.

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Untitled (Soft Marks) 2016 Graphite powder on paper 42 x 84 in.

Covered 2016 Black gesso on canvas 48 x 48 in.


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mnartists.org/bajinqi Shanghai, Shanghai, China Drawing and Painting

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Yijia Li As a woman and a painter from Shanghai, China, who uses female figures as my main subject matter, I have so many interesting topics and concepts from my personal life that I could treat in my work, such as LGBT issues, cultural contrasts, and feminist issues. However, with years of studying and working in different fields and knowing more and more people with different backgrounds, I realized that there should be a common experience that is beyond a single person’s life, embodied in everyone’s lives in thousands of different ways. Therefore, my art making process is not only a process of exploring painting and drawing techniques and skills, or discovering painting and drawing materials, but also, more importantly, a journey to achieve that goal.

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What a Nice Autumn Day #1 2016 Oil on panel 14 x 11 in.

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After the Shower #1 2016 Charcoal powder on paper 25 x 19 in.


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aaronolsonreiners.com Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA Drawing and Painting

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Aaron Olson-Reiners My work explores the relationship between painting and the self. Painting is an expression of the struggle for personal meaning and authenticity. Although this reflective, investigative inquiry frequently reveals more questions than answers, it offers greater self-awareness and elucidates aspects of personal identity. My search for the authentic self has led me to explore the tension between the abstract and the figurative, where frequently these determinations have played a part in painting. I am inspired by the work of Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Agnes Martin, and Walt Whitman. My practice is a personally expressive endeavor in which intuition and ambiguity play a major role. Rather than create paintings to convey a predetermined message, I develop the thematic content of my work in response to the painting process. This approach reveals

surprising and significant links between my practice and my personal experiences. One such connection is the way contradictory inclinations shape both my paintings and my daily life. As new experiences continue to shape my identity, I strive for my practice to illuminate my ever-changing sense of self.

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Amalgamation #1 2016 Acrylic on panel 72 x 48 in.

Amalgamation #4 2016 Acrylic on canvas 62.5 x 46 in.


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erinsandsmark.com Fargo, North Dakota, USA Drawing and Painting

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Erin Sandsmark My study of feminism and gender politics has created a need for me to look at, and examine, my personal position in the world. I am driven by how I fit or how bodies like mine fit into our social norms and understandings of what it is to be a woman. My fat body is used to examine spaces where some find discomfort. I am interested in presenting my flesh in an open way— continuing to understand the space I occupy in relation to others. My breasts, stomach, and fat are exposed in each painting. Flesh has turned into material; paint and canvas have become body. Each piece exposes the material of paint, and the sensuality of the medium bleeds into the representation of form and flesh. Canvas hangs on the wall like skin, acting like a body all on its own. In these works, I examine our many facets and use my body to understand the

psychological connection between ourselves and our bodies. Multiple figures occupy the picture plane, creating a space for transparency and abstraction. These bodies are depicted in dialogue, and in viewing the paintings one is asked to contemplate the multiplicities that make up each of us.

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Orbs 2016 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72 in.

Fold 2016 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72 in.


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Cole Seidl


Sihai Zhu


coleseidl.com White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA

Cole Seidl I am a filmmaker who is endlessly fascinated with contradictions—particularly the contradictions that can be found barely hidden behind the façade of normal human life. My films explore the failings of interpersonal communication, nostalgia, the often surreal revelations experienced during international travel, and the nature of filmmaking itself.

Filmmaking

My films revel in the contradictions of these subjects, and bask in the unique tensions created by contradictory aesthetics, themes, and hypocritical human behaviors. This is all achieved from the foundational contradiction that cinema is, at its core, a series of misrepresentations and outright lies that are supposed to tell us something truthful.

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The Six Moral Tales 2016 Film still

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The Iron Peony 2016 Film still


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sihaizhu.com Yantai, Shandong, China

Sihai Zhu As a filmmaker who came from Yantai, China, I focus on both directing and editing narrative and experimental short films. My storytelling is deeply infused with an emotional sense of humanity with a “slice of life” perspective.

Filmmaking

My thesis project Cornfield is a narrative short film about an unfortunate young man who has mental disabilities and gets caught up in a miserable story involving his stepbrother and the brother’s wife. In order to condense the film time, I use flashbacks as one way to break the timeline and storyline. Along with flashbacks, I also use jarring cuts to the fighting scenes, which enhance the intense feeling of this film.

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Fig. 1

Underwater 2016 Film still

For me, the essence of the cinema lies in editing. With the goal to explore Lev Kuleshov’s experiment to indicate the usefulness and effectiveness of film editing, I created an experimental film in 2016 called Underwater. By the juxtaposition of random footage, the audience is encouraged to create their own narrative, and furthermore attribute those reactions to the actor. Editing is very instinctive. As an editor, I view making the cut decision to be a creative artistic process which determines the film’s storytelling ability.

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Some Place Far Away series 2017 Photograph


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Joe Letchford

Xiaohan Ma


Dan Romanoski

Suyao Tian


joeletchford.com Richmond, Virginia, USA Graphic Design

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Joe Letchford My work explores what it means to choose to disconnect from a digital presence in today’s post-digital environment. Post-Digital is the discourse around the relationships between our technologies and their effects on us as humans. I question whether the possibility of experiencing a sense of connection or transcendence is directly correlated with disconnecting from an online presence. Human connections are no longer limited to face-to-face encounters, mouth to ear, or the subtleties of our shifting limbs. The digital world fosters new and different communication as it continues to expand our interactions daily—constant, ever-present, threading itself through the most intimate moments we experience. We use these digital frameworks of interaction for the same purposes as physical interaction,

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TEOI 2016 Publication 4.5 x 6 in.

because this realm is real. No longer a secondary virtual existence, the web is now a cultural and existential norm. From this viewpoint I explore the notions of disconnection in relation to ubiquitous digital culture and presence. My work focuses on the conscious decision to disconnect working toward informing a future reconnection with combined cultural and societal existence. Technology’s fluidity, complementary to our existence, facilitates a personal self-awareness—or presence—but disconnecting oneself from these connective tools facilitates the feelings of connection and presence in nature.

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Un-known Home 2016 Digital collage


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maxiaohan.us Dalian, Liaoning, China Graphic Design

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Xiaohan Ma During my time at MCAD, I have been exploring visual forms and type in twodimensional space mainly through the format of artists’ books and large-scale digital prints. I have been exploring digital 3D modeling and motion graphics recently, and will be utilizing all these techniques in my thesis project. I don’t see graphic design only as a problem-solving strategy in the format of posters, branding, and publications. For me it is an exploration of visual language and a self-expression of an artist’s vision and knowledge. I believe visual language should develop on its own terms instead of being seen as a tool to help us understand a verbal message. My work often proceeds with an intuitive approach. I’m interested in things or situations that we find difficult

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Sinking Bubbles 2016 Digital print 25 x 19 in.

to explain. I’m interested in visual forms or languages that exist in ambiguity, unconventionality, and triviality. Instead of using graphic design as a tool to convey clear visual communication, I experiment with deformed typographical elements, nonrepresentational visual forms and images, and misinterpretable writings, which together create an unfamiliar environment that conveys nonlinear communication. The audience is encouraged to give up their preconceptions regarding how to decode a visual message.

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Not My Best Days 2016 Digital print 44 x 30 in.


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danromanoski.com Charlotte, North Carolina, USA Graphic Design

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Dan Romanoski I am a graphic designer working through digital and print mediums to explore interpretive design. Instead of dictating a message to a viewer, I attempt to enter a conversation by playing with the distortion of hierarchy, legibility, and message, often crossing the threshold of instant cognition into abstraction. I explore both form and function experimentally through a variety of topics and content that are used as a vehicle for the generation of interpretive work. Through research and exploration, the subject of communication itself has increasingly become a topic of interest. Moments of miscommunication, points of confusion, degradation, and distortion are used to deconstruct language and its semiotic networks, creating the space to

converse with the viewer. These are often situations that call for reinterpretations and new conversations. They are the cause for “other spaces,� or counterforms, where holes have been opened, allowing new information to be revealed and considered.

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Feedback Loop No. 1 2016 Animation on loop, monitor

Chart 3 2016 Digital print on wood panel 20 x 30 in.


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suyaotian.com Xining, Qinghai, China Graphic Design

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Suyao Tian I’m interested in experimenting and exploring the total creative branding process from the idea, to the artwork, to the business and product application, to the final product and the cyclical return of the effects of the process upon the original idea itself. My work uses this organic process to create and reform my design until it arrives at its natural and eventual form. My focus is determining the most powerful commercial application of design and exploring the relationship in greater detail. Through my work and research, I strive to incorporate the emotional, visual, and interactive effects of a product’s design on its audience. I want to not only have a greater understanding of how design and branding come into existence, but also the process by which a design can gain global prominence, weaving into the very fabric of society.

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Chinese Red 2016 Objects, digital prints 10 x 10 ft.

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Modern Cover 2017 Digital print 11 x 17 in.


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Dana Kristine Cheit


Jacob Yeates


danakristinedesign.com Oakland, California, USA

Dana Kristine Cheit I am a digital illustrator with a dual interest in graphic design. My thesis work, Young Rebels, explores the role that visual metaphor has played in activist movements throughout history. Everyday objects, like sugar and oranges, have been utilized by young people around the world as tools in the advancement of civil rights. As symbols, these objects have the potential to disseminate historical knowledge and to encourage solidarity by metaphorically standing in for acts of courage.

Illustration

Teenagers are well-known for their obsessive and complicated relationships with labels, often exhibiting covetous behavior toward celebrities and fictional heroes, and— through product consumption and object worship—seeking outside affirmation of

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Fig. 1

Barton Schink 2017 Digital illustration 3.5 x 4.5 in.

identity. Trading cards, formerly “cigarette cards,” carry a centuries-old history of distributing low-cost illustrated works to millions of people across social strata, and I feel the industry has missed an opportunity to operate as an educational tool. Through a calculated subversion of everyday symbols, in tandem with a reimagining of the common collectible trading card, my series Young Rebels invites young people to find personal connections with young activists throughout history, and through the power of visual metaphor, to co-opt the ordinary objects in their lives into tools of resistance and education.

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Skin 2016 Digital illustration 18 x 24 in.


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jacob-dyqj.format.com Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Jacob Yeates My work looks to moments of physical and emotional extremity in order to explore larger issues of sociopolitical violence, often within the context of the Western world’s continued military engagements, and by extension, my own direct or indirect involvement in these situations. By placing myself and viewers in these circumstances via preexisting narratives—be they historical, current events, or even fictional frameworks—we can examine an otherwise difficult experience and, hopefully, understand it on a more human, sympathetic level.

viewers, as well as expand my own understanding of complex issues. With figurative representation at its core and the synthesis of multiple narratives, I seek to create dialectic spaces—spaces which acknowledge the inevitable distortions present in violent situations, yet still serve to inform an audience and ultimately encourage self-reflection and personal accountability.

Illustration

I combine drafting and painting processes with the use of conceptual metaphor and elements of visual journalism, in which personal research, interview, and reference become as important as technical skill in order to successfully communicate with

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Fig. 1

Headline Count (Ukraine) 2015 Graphite, collage, mixed media 13 x 16 in.

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Partisan Discourse: Richard Spencer 2017 Conte, collage, mixed media 22 x 17 in.


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Heather


Peebles


mnartists.org/hrpeebles Severn, Maryland, USA Interdisciplinary

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Heather Peebles As an interdisciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in painting and social practice, my work concerns sexual violence and rape culture in the United States. During my time at MCAD, my practice has transitioned from gallery-oriented, mixed media paintings and participatory work to a community-based practice in which I directly work with a community of victim-survivors of sexual violence. My thesis project will be the culmination and documentation of several art workshops through May 2017, including feedback from participants, assessments of each session, and any artwork produced as permitted by the participants. Working in partnership with activist movements Break the Silence and Don’t You Feel It Too?, I incorporate research from my time in the program on factors that impact victims, such as rape culture, trauma, and political realities, reflecting my artist influences Suzanne Lacy and Adrian Piper.

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Trauma Memory Identity Project (~19 y.o., not specified) 2016 Oil, acrylic, charcoal, graphite, fabric, and hot glue on canvas print 22 x 32.5 in.

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Trauma Memory Identity Project (18 y.o.) 2016 Oil, acrylic, charcoal, and graphite on canvas print 22 x 32.75 in.


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Shiraz Mukarram


Chelsea Reeck


vimeo.com/shirazmukarram Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan Photography

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Shiraz Mukarram Portraiture has been a part of my practice for a long time. As a photographer, I work with people who are underrepresented in the mainstream media. My work attempts to explore portraiture and tell an individual’s story through their own words. Some of the contemporary issues I am interested in have to do with identity and the ethical/moral possibilities of representing another person. At its base, portraiture is about one self with all of her history, biology, and culture attempting to represent another self with a different history, biology, and culture. My projects have been a way for me to examine issues inherent to portraiture—exploitation of the subject, ownership of the image, the

power relationships of representation and the meaning of authorship. My time in the MFA program has been an exploration of these issues using an expanded sense of portraiture that combines various media, such as audio, photographs, and film.

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The Parking Lot #01 2015 Film still

Rantings of a well-behaved child 2016 Film still


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chelseareeckphotography.com Forest Lake, Minnesota, USA

Chelsea Reeck On April 13, 2016, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. More prevalent than anything else felt at the time was a deep sense of powerlessness as my oncologist explained my only option was chemotherapy or I would be dead within a year.

Photography

Photographing personal trauma through the documentation of spaces and objects as evidence of my illness articulates the destructive effects of chemotherapy treatment and the parallel conflicts created by its current role as the immediate response to cancer diagnosis. By means of my personal experiences with sickness, my now-intimate view of the medical industry has allowed me to interrogate a world not often explored.

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Untitled #3, Side Effects May Include series 2016 Photograph

In facing the overwhelming list of side effects present in chemotherapy, I question its place as a go-to method of treatment. Through photographic exploration, I documented spaces within the hospital as well as my home post-treatment as a way to develop these questions in an artistic manner and offer the viewer a first person perspective, generating an empathetic experience when considering this work. As I have been directly impacted by the limited choices offered by my oncologist, it is with personal interest, moral interest, and artistic interest that I investigate this subject matter.

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Untitled #2, Side Effects May Include series 2016 Photograph


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Bianca


Jarvis


biancajarvis.com Sacramento, California, USA Printmaking

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Bianca Jarvis The creative process enables me to examine personal experiences and questions of loss, memory, and imagination. I experiment with print processes, installation, and collage to understand how memory is transformed through the labor of making. Using the memory of my mother, Kathy Carlisle, as a point of departure, I seek to reveal the mental and spiritual spaces I inhabit when reflecting on the past. Selecting and collaging her images with my own becomes a collaboration that attempts to make sense of loss, my life’s work, and the responsibility I feel I have to contextualize her legacy with my own.

These pieces affirm the moments I remember, to make real what time has since made malleable and to take refuge in the space between pining and healing that absence stirs. I honor the rhythm in reviving the past, arguing for the necessity of giving ourselves the time and space to reflect, remember, imagine, and possibly escape from the present.

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The Escape 2016 Mixed media 40 x 60 in.

Memento 2016 Screenprint 24 x 36 in.


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Jesse R. Lentz

Samantha


Russell

Joel Terry


peanutbutterandjesse.com Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Sculpture

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Jesse R. Lentz The practice of using found objects as art-making material isn’t exactly new. Taking nontraditional media and transforming the context in which we see it has been an important task for many artists, from the curiosity cabinets of the 16th century, to the Readymade, to the modern Pinterest upcycle project. By recontextualizing objects, contemporary artists have elevated the common to a place of distinction. There is a long tradition of women using objects to cement their place in the world, as well as traditional folk beliefs in the power embodied by objects. In my work I have collected and presented the domestic, the found, the hoarded, the purchased, and the folk story into an installation that one could come upon in one’s grandparents’ attic. Based on slum housing and dollhouse building aesthetics, I am creating a new place for discovery and wonder.

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Found year one, series of 52 photos 2016 Found objects

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L’appel du vide (starscape) 2016 Fabric, lights Dimensions vary


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samantharussellfineart.com Flint, Michigan, USA Sculpture

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Samantha Russell Working in more traditional methods, I sculpt figural fragments to convey my emotional responses to societal inequities and injustices. Favoring hand-based processes and traditional tools, rather than employing digital interventions, I create relatable figurative sculptures that better convey my sociopolitical themes coded through my race/gender/class-inclusive feminism. I seek to engage a broader audience and to increase its empathetic responses to these themes. By creating works that exist within the white cube and the public space, I endeavor to bridge the gap between the art world and the working class, much like my upbringing as the daughter of an artist and a mechanic. In doing so I hope to begin conversations that inspire understanding and change within the public.

My current body of work uses fragmented hands and other body parts to elicit emotional responses to reality. I’m working with the reality of loss and resistance, displaying them in a way that subtly interrupts viewers’ experiences to draw their focus to the sociopolitical issues and inspire action. I’m looking to use my art as a communicative tool to resist the abuses of power.

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Cede 2016 Ceramic, handkerchief Life size

The American Dream (Land Grab) 2016 Ceramic, Packard Automotive Plant floor bricks Life size


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joeldterry.com St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA

Joel Terry I am a sculptor living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My source of inspiration comes from an interest in American values as they pertain to varied perceptions or definitions of “The American Dream.” To some this could be pursuing a passion, achieving great wealth regardless of economic status, or living in a society where everyone has an equal standard of respect. To others it means just having bigger, fancier things than your neighbor.

Sculpture

Utilizing consumer goods, I activate a visual dialogue that pits material against value, asking the viewer to evaluate their relationships to objects and their own priorities. These materials and subjects include processed foods and food packaging, cheap interior “McMansion” materials,

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Fig. 1

Chili Cheese and Fries 2016 Digital print 17 x 22 in.

and various plastics associated with swimming pool culture, juxtaposed with fine art contexts. Following minimalist guidelines for both object-based and installation works, I disassemble, reassemble, distort, and wrap various forms in these exploited materials. Making reference to interior and exterior spaces, my work explores the objects with which we choose to surround ourselves and how these extend our preconceived biases as they upgrade/downgrade perceived statuses and façades. We value aesthetics for molding our identities, surrendering reality to maintain appearances, inevitably exposing our insecurities.

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A Cheaper Splash 2016 Latex house paint, mylar, pool noodle


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Credits

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Tom DeBiaso Director and Professor Master of Fine Arts Program

Main Campus 2501 Stevens Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 mcad.edu

Kiley Van Note Assistant to the Director Ann Benrud Director of Communications Gretchen Gasterland-Gustafsson Rita Kovtun Copywriting and Editing Dan Romanoski Design Shiraz Mukarram Chelsea Reeck Forrest Wasko Photography Dylan Olson-Cole, Manager Kayla Campbell, Designer MCAD DesignWorks Ideal Printers Printing and Binding Minneapolis, Minnesota

MFA Graduate Faculty Committee Andy DuCett Visiting Faculty, Master of Fine Arts Program Kindra Murphy Associate Professor, Design Rik Sferra Professor, Media Arts Gretchen Gasterland-Gustafsson Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts

MFA Studios and Gallery 2201 1st Avenue South Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 mcad-mfa.com

Š2017 Minneapolis College of Art and Design All artists and their corresponding artwork published in this book are copyrighted materials. All rights reserved.


About the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

About the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

The Master of Fine Arts program is a community of makers, thinkers, theorists, researchers, and creative professionals working in a mentor-based, interdisciplinary educational environment. A majority of credits are earned through one-on-one work with a faculty mentor throughout the two years. In addition to the mentorship, students take a critique and liberal arts seminar each semester and have the option to pursue internships and a range of engaging educational opportunities. The final year culminates with a capstone thesis exhibition and paper. Our student body is diverse with a robust international presence. The subject of student inquiry responds to social, cultural, and professional needs as well as to entrepreneurial opportunities, stretching across art and design practices. Students in the program pursue creative work in a mentor-based, interdisciplinary environment that includes graphic design, printmaking, paper and book arts, painting, photography, illustration, sculpture, drawing, animation, interactive media, filmmaking, comic art, furniture design, and installation art.

Recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to visual arts education, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is home to more than 800 students and offers professional certificates, bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of science degrees, and graduate degrees. Founded in 1886, MCAD was one of the first colleges to offer the BFA degree. The college has earned the highest accreditation possible and has the highest four-year graduation rate of all Midwestern visual arts colleges. College facilities contain the latest in technology, with multiple studios and labs open 24 hours a day. For more information, visit the following sites: Admissions mcad.edu/admissions MFA Program mcad-mfa.com mcad.edu/mfa

Nondiscrimination Policy The Minneapolis College of Art and Design does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, disability, marital status, or age in its programs, activities, scholarship and loan programs, and educational policies.

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Made at the

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

MINNEAPOLIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN

MCAD MFA STUDIOS AND GALLERY

2501 STEVENS AVENUE MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55404

2201 1ST AVENUE SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55404

MCAD.EDU

MCAD-MFA.COM

MCAD MFA Thesis Catalog 2017  

The MCAD MFA program is a community of makers, thinkers, theorists, researchers, and creative professionals. Our student body is diverse wit...

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