Saturday, April 5, 2008

Leaps and Bounds

UGA MFA shows are tricky. The show should be one of the highlights of the year in terms of innovativeness, technical skill, and general execution. These are the young minds of the artistic community who have had time and energy dedicated exclusively to making a body of work for 3 years straight. The 2005 UGA MFA show was phenomenal; Stephanie Dotson’s installation was triumph of printmaking, fiber arts, and general Oldenberg sensibilities. Kathryn Refi’s color field paintings took 1960s abstract expressionsim and brought it into the video installation era seamlessly. In 2006 Claire Joyce exhibited a sparkle extravanganza. Unfortunately, this sabbatical from the rest of the world does not always result in the genius one would expect. Last years MFA show at UGA was a one note catastrophe. Even those whose thesis projects were worthy of praised suffered from the bad hanging job, and blandness of the majority.

Luckily, this years line-up satisfied those still with a bad taste in their mouths from the year past. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me take any pictures, so I’m waiting for somet o come up online to post pictures of my favorites. Here’s a short list for now: Euni Figi, John Powers, Jessica Ann Mills, and Leigh Ann Johnson Swift.

I was certainly not the only one who was completely enraptured by John Powers’ pieces. The mechanized grass in the wind was surrounded by masses of people throughout the night. Each of his pieces utilized elements of sound created by the mechanisms he created. Nothing like nature in the machine age.

I am a sucker for Jessica Mills’ work. Her thesis show was a lovely as I expected it to be. Americana prints with a twing of old photograph. Reads like a Cormac McCatrhy novel.

Euni Figi’s rice apron were absolutely gorgeous. Figi’s approach to rendering a functional item almost completely decorative is quite a feat: The train extends about five feet in front of the wearer, and the weight of the rice that fills the apron would stunt any movement that the train did not. I found the juxtaposition she created between the idea of the long train of the dress immediately signaling visions of matrimony, and of course the added domesticity of the apron, with what she mentions in her artist statement about the apron serving as a type of protective armor to be an interesting approach. Before seeing the statement I had assumed that she was using the apron in a perjorative way, and just covering it in the gorgeous construction of the apron. And maybe she still is.

I’ll post pictures when someone puts them up. They wouldn’t let me take pictures inside, but I am guessing one of the MFA students will put some up soon.

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