March 29, 2022

Vibrant Matters

Yale School of Art

Quinci Baker, Untitled (detail), 2022. Photo: Meghan Olson.

Katherine Yaochen Du, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Brett Ginsburg, Patricia Orpilla. Installation view, 2022. Photo: Meghan Olson.

Grant Czuj, Alex Puz. Installation view, 2022. Photo: Allison Minto. 

Ashley Teamer, detail, 2022. Photo: Meghan Olson.

Anne Mailey. Installation view, 2022. Photo: Meghan Olson.

Opal Ecker DeRuvo, Kendrick Corp. Installation view. Photo: Meghan Olson.  

Zoila Andrea Coc-Chang, athena quispe. Installation view, 2022. Photo: Allison Minto. 

Curated by Melanie Kress & Rachelle Dang. Rachael Catharine Anderson, Salvador Andrade Arévalo, Quinci Baker, Brianna Bass, Bhasha Chakrabarti, Zoila Andrea Coc-Chang, Kendrick Corp, Grant Czuj, Opal Ecker DeRuvo, Katherine Yaochen Du, Brett Ginsburg, Samantha Joy Groff, Anne Mailey, Kristoffer McAfee, Patricia Orpilla, Alex Puz, athena quispe, Matt Smoak, Brennen Steines, Ashley Teamer, Justin James Voiss.

The twenty-one artists in the Yale School of Art 2022 second-year Painting/Printmaking MFA thesis exhibitions are weavers. They are bricoleurs, they are collectors and storytellers, they are our new generation of historians, and they are painters of the impossible-to-describe thing that is the human psyche.

My co-teacher, Rachelle Dang, began our year together by asking the artists to reflect on shared resonances seen in one another’s work. Together, we named embodied knowledge, interdependence, mending and healing, nonlinear time, layered and unreliable histories, tangled ecologies, and, above all, the reverberating power of the material world. Many artists in these exhibitions accumulate, layer, and dissect our material surroundings to reveal truths about human behaviors and our place in an ecosystem much larger than ourselves. Others trace single objects across space and time as a way to read and write anew personal and collective histories. All share overlapping commitments to many ambitious goals possible in painting and printmaking.

These artists—
–trust the embodied reality of painting as sculpture, from healing crystals to food wrappers; from family photographs to second-hand clothing; from the brain’s color receptors to the topography of a paint chip;
–focus new frames on the past and present, through architecture, archives, machines, and the mechanisms of the eye itself;
–follow the historical construction of painting’s constituent parts, including the textiles donated to a precocious college by Elihu Yale, then President of the British East India Company in Madras, India;
–pinpoint and destabilize symbols ranging from ancient Andean figuration to the colors red, white, and blue;
–express a collective, contingent, and tender self, searching for the body on the edges of perception;
–feel the haunting awe of the soil, the earth, and water, of being with animals, plants, and other creatures;
–embody our many inadequate histories in order to tell us new truths.

Alongside all of this, these artists also create with joy—a true love of painting and printmaking, of research, and of storytelling. They delight in collected materials, recorded sounds, in a new image found. In sharing poems, music, and mending between friends. In writing shared stories and finding escapes from the confines of an exhibition setting.

This exhibition—shared with the Yale community from January 31 to March 4, 2022—is a glimpse, a snapshot. It is an opportunity to see the expansive goals and brilliance of twenty-one artists at one moment in time and space. This is a thesis exhibition, a culmination of almost two years of work and profound personal and artistic challenges. It is also a nascent moment in the careers of artists I look forward to watching guide us into the coming decades of matter, meaning, and vibrancy.

—Melanie Kress.

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