April 27, 2018

Boiling Point

Pratt Institute

View of second-year MFA work.

Featuring work by selected second-year MFA Fine Arts candidates curated by Regine Basha

Artists: Jill Brandwein, Abby Cheney, Yen Yen Chou, Rachel Gisela Cohen, Naomi Frank, Sheila Lam, Dévi Loftus, Marco Lorenzetti, Luisa Valderrama, Cougar Vigil, Cary Wander, Sora Woo

Opening: May 5, 7–9pm
Gallery hours: Thursday–Saturday 12–6pm

Formerly under the auspices of the legendary Pierogi Gallery, "the Boiler Room" is now more of a neutral space featuring that beloved behemoth of a machine: a relic of 19th century industry and toxicity—one that is too large to remove and too fascinating to cover up.

Consider the role and specific function of the boiler itself—to render liquid into vapor—and the process through which liquid reaches a boiling point. Looking up "boiling point" you’ll get two definitions: the scientific one describing how the boiling point is "the temperature at which vapor pressure of a liquid equals the external pressure of the surrounding liquid" essentially through "environmental or atmospheric pressure." Simultaneously, the definition offers a psychological application to humans as "the boiling point is the point beyond which one becomes angry, agitated or outraged."

In more ways than one, these definitions aptly depict our current political and cultural moment, where, in every arena it seems—be it environmental, political, social, or economic—we are reaching untenable levels of saturation and pressure. And so once again, as it has always been for artists, the questions become "what does it mean to make art during this time?" and "how do you internalize and transform this pressure?" or better yet, "how do you go from boiling point to vapor?"

This curated selection of artists from the 2018 Pratt MFA Fine Arts class, through a variety of media, have remarkably convergent perspectives regarding environmental cycles of decay and life, economic and social precarity and an impulse to highlight the fragility of organic forms, whether it be animal, mineral or human. We can find themes related to the crisis of our oceans in the cross-media experimentations of Cary Wander as well as in the mixed-media printed fabrics of Dévi Loftus; there are impulses to study organic death and cycles of decay in Naomi Frank’s monumental paintings depicting the still bodies of beautiful dead birds; Rachel Gisela Cohen's sequin-encrusted chromatic paintings attack our senses with color from deep inside Costa Rican ecosystems; Luisa Valderrama’s organic abstract forms recall the soil, hay and drying animal organs, as sculptural memories from her family’s farm in Colombia; Yen Yen Chou brings a psychedelic take on food and nature gone awry in an era of GMOs and over-consumption in her ceramics. On a psychological level, Marco Lorenzetti’s rapid-fire drawn paintings on bedsheets contain the raw frenetic energy and density of emotional boiling points in nuclear families, while Sheila Lam’s interactive sound works amplify the minutiae of bodily contact as anxious soundscapes. Abby Cheney’s fey, painted cardboard objects from daily life, seemingly on the edge of falling apart, ultimately capture resilience and poise. In relation to precarious social fabrics and trauma, Cougar Vigil captures, and monumentally re-frames the highly-charged ephemeral documents and identity from within his own tribal community. Sora Woo’s quiet photography clinically documents abandoned or perhaps foreclosed houses as relics of economic ravages, throughout different parts of the world; Jill Brandwein’s polychromatic stacked canvas intentionally teeter on the edge of collapse, their painted surfaces reveal content hidden from view.

Pratt Institute’s Master in Fine Arts (MFA) program provides an advanced education for artists supported by distinguished faculty, exceptional facilities, and a community of peers. Enriched by the abundance and inspiration of New York City, Pratt’s critically engaged faculty respond to each student’s individual practice, supporting their development and enabling an intense and transformative immersion in the diverse cultures of contemporary art making. Find more information about the program.

About Pratt Shows 2018
Explore the year’s boldest ideas at Pratt Institute’s curated showcase by the 2018 graduating class. Pratt Shows is comprised of over more than 20 events, presentations, and exhibitions, including fine art installations, film screenings, readings, and trade shows, setting Pratt’s collaborative and interdisciplinary approach on display.

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