May 25, 2015

Fine Arts thesis exhibition 2015

School of Visual Arts (SVA)
Seung Hyun (Sierra) Lee, Street of Oneiric, 2015. Paper, wood frames, colored light. Photo: Alison Kuo.

Curated by Lumi Tan

An MFA thesis show is typically thought of as a culmination of studies, a concise presentation of what has been learned, researched, critiqued and revised over the past two years. However, the 35 students in this class have differentiated themselves by approaching the concept of the thesis not as a conclusive statement, but rather an opportunity for a new beginning. Instead of absolute resolve, they have continued to experiment and find novel ways to move forward within their deeply divergent practices. Switching mediums, themes, and motives with aplomb, the students seem to acknowledge that while each individual completed artwork may be the result of problem solving, to be an artist is to ardently pursue the hypothetical.

This transitional moment between student and working artist is foregrounded by the deliberately public location of this year’s exhibition–for the first time, the thesis show steps away from the 15th floor SVA Chelsea gallery to a storefront space on a commercial street in Williamsburg, a neighborhood now associated with waves of artists who have brought striking economic and cultural change over the past few decades. A temporary space for exhibitions that will then be demolished for the construction of affordable housing, it quite bluntly speaks to the context of reinvention. By engaging with disparate audiences—those who seek out the exhibition, artists living and working in the neighborhood, and curious passersby—the work moves from the certain comforts of the Chelsea gallery district and the school studio into an undefined space in which it must speak for itself. Most simply put, this collection of artworks may have left a school in Manhattan together, but will be returned to a multifaceted group of artists throughout the boroughs, and far further afield.

The MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual arts was founded in 1983 in New York City, and counts among its faculty such artists as Marilyn Minter, Fred Wilson, Laurel Nakadate, Leigh Ladare, Angel Nevarez, Dave Mackenzie, Julianne Schwartz, and Mark Tribe.

Alumni include Katherine Bernhardt, Luca Buvoli, Steve DeFrank, Inka Essenhigh, Kate Gilmore, Johan Grimonprez, Michelle Lopez, Suzanne McClelland, Steve Mumford, Sarah Sze, and Phoebe Washburn.

Lumi Tan is currently Curator at The Kitchen, where she organizes exhibitions and performances with artists across disciplines and generations. Exhibitions in the 2014–15 season include Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu: Metal; No entrance, no exit; and Anicka Yi: You Can Call Me F. Prior to The Kitchen, Tan held positions at the FRAC Nord Pas-de-Calais in Dunkerque, France; Zach Feuer Gallery, New York; and PS1 Contemporary Art Center. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, The Exhibitionist, Frieze, The New York Times, and in numerous exhibition catalogues.


SVA MFA Fine Arts thesis exhibition 2015

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