October 25, 2021

MFA thesis shows at Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Temple University

Vatina Cangelosi. Openings (still), 2021. Video with handmade paper, gloves, trowel, soil and clover. 

Melanie Bernier. Do An Eggy (still), 2021. Digital video.

Brian McNamara. The Diner, 2021. Ceramic, wood, paint and prints. 16 x 8 x 4 inches.

Matt Witmer. Plastic Forgiveness (still), 2021. Video. 



During a year of distance, disruption and social turmoil, MFA students in Tyler’s class of 2021 found inspiration in introspection and the provocative to create affecting and poignant works that explore identity, familial bonds, political constructs, and the fragility of nature.

The Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University is pleased to announce a special fall 2021 cohort of its annual MFA Thesis Exhibitions, the culmination of two years of intensive artistic and critical development for the school’s Master of Fine Arts candidates.

These solo shows, which run weekly until December 18, presents the works of eight graduate students whose interdisciplinarity reflect the distinctive attributes of Tyler’s MFA programs. The shows will conclude the thesis exhibitions for the class of 2021. More than two dozen graduate students exhibited works in solo and group shows during the spring 2021 semester. For more information on all participating students, please click here.

Two foundational values of the Tyler MFA experience are adaptability and resilience—qualities magnified by the pursuit of creative expression throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyler students bonded as a close-knit community despite challenges, and found ways to support and witness each other’s progress in the eerie quiet of often solitary practice.

The works they produced engage with personal, social, political and environmental issues, as well as “the paradox of ubiquitous absence—the absence of physical contact, the presence of longing, and the experience of feeling alone,” wrote Tyler’s Dean and art historian Susan E. Cahan in Intersections, Tyler’s annual catalog of graduating MFA students’ work.

With extensive overlap across mediums and disciplines, the artists present an eclectic collection of work—from video performances digging in mud to debris-flecked ceramic columns and vessels, 3D models and animations translating woven forms for digital display, and small-scale sculptural installations that function as narrative tableaus.

Their visual lexicons unfold through two-dimensional, three-dimensional and time-based formats, some interweaving all three to create sharp juxtapositions and powerful metaphors regarding environmental disaster, kinship and the desire for connection.

“Besides ubiquitous themes that have heightened saliency today, we’ve seen a blending of materials and practice that speaks to new ways of seeing and interpreting how art can function for personal and political expression,” said Tyler Associate Dean Chad Curtis. “We have also witnessed the force of our community this year—with the MFAs sharing their expertise with each other to deepen and amplify individual practice. This has strengthened the quality of their work and resulted in a community with special connections.”

The exhibitions are on the ground floor of Tyler School of Art and Architecture on Temple University's main campus in Philadelphia, at N. 12th and E. Norris Streets. New exhibitions are shown every Wednesday through Saturday, 11am–6pm Galleries are open to the public.

Tyler’s fall 2021 MFA thesis exhibition participants include: Isaac Scott, October 20–23 / Marilla Cubberly, October 27–30 / Charlotte G. Chin Greene, November 3–6 / Brian McNamara, November 10–13 / Matt Witmer, November 17–20 / Liz Ashley Martin, December 1–4 / Melanie Bernier, December 8–11 / Leah Frances, December 15–18

Graduate information week: November 8–12
Learn about the Tyler MFA and more. Join one or more hour-long virtual sessions with representatives from Tyler's eight studio art programs and graphic and interactive design, as well as Art History and Art Education. For dates and times, and to register, click here.

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