Arts & Entertainment, Features

Graduating BU candidates exhibit stunning works of art in Stone Gallery

Paintings, sculptures and smiling faces were on display Friday afternoon at the reception of the 2022 MFA Thesis Exhibitions at the Faye G., Jo, and James Stone Gallery. Here, candidates celebrated the conclusion of their two-year program at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts with friends, family and a showcase of their impressive artwork for the greater Boston community to see.

2022 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
The Stone Gallery at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, housing the 2022 MFA Thesis Exhibitions. Candidates celebrated the end of their two-year program at a reception March 18, and the exhibition will be open to the public until April 2. COLIN BOYD/DFP STAFF

“The students were so excited to have a public opening because the past two years we were able to do the exhibitions, but they were closed to the public,” Lucy Kim, associate professor of art and interim chair of graduate studies in painting, said.

The exhibition, which is open to the public until Saturday, April 2, displays the thesis projects of 18 candidates in the Master of Fine Arts painting and sculpting programs.

In a dominant position in the center of the gallery lies three metal constructs titled, “THUNDERBOX I,” “THUNDERBOX II” and “THUNDERBOX III,” by MFA sculpture candidate, Jada Haynes.

“With these pieces, I work a lot with performance and using my own body,” Haynes said. “I dropped anvils, [and] used sledgehammers on these pieces to get these dents, and for me that liberates them of their rigid coldness, make them feel more like a body.”

The names of the pieces refer to the sound component of the creation process, she said.

“The sound it would make for the structures to have the dents, kind of like thunder, very loud, a little bit unpredictable too,” Haynes said. “Together, I compose this score, so after one piece plays, another piece will play.”

MFA painting candidate, Jason Lipow, presents his painting “BAMBI BOY (we live in a time of fire a time of greed),” as well as “harness,” “shelter” and “discum furt(ive) open ng” — wooden sculptures stationed under the feet of attendees right as they enter the gallery.

These pieces reflect Lipow’s transition over the course of the program from focusing on abstract pieces to incorporating more representational imagery into his work, he said.

“Sometimes the expectation of painting, especially from audiences that might not have an art background, is that if something is art it has to be beautiful, and the definition of beautiful is limited to visually appealing,” he said. “Art objects can contain a range of emotions and I don’t think it’s a bad thing if they contain feelings of violence or vulnerability. It can elicit a lot of different experiences or memories.”

MFA painting candidate, AJ Rombach, showcased two pieces, “Twin Ponds (As above so Below),” and “Significant Location (As above so Below),” which are based on photographs they took of Massachusetts’s landscapes.

“What happens is I feel a very strong impulse to take a photograph, and I see it as like a breadcrumb, like something on the trail that if I pursue it, it’ll manifest into something tangible,” they said.

The pieces have two components, a painting of the landscape and an inverted image of the painting composed of ceramic pieces on a table beneath it.

“I wanted to see if I could induce a sort of optical effect, like a literal reflection was happening,” they said.

Another featured artist at the exhibit is MFA painting candidate David Petrak, who had on display a pair of paintings called “Emerging from the Shroud” and “Excavating the Tomb.”

“[‘Emerging from the Shroud’] was very much inspired by the Shroud of Turin, which is a cloth that Jesus was allegedly wrapped in, and there’s like a ghostly presence of him in the cloth,” Petrak said. “ ‘Excavating the Tomb’ is kind of the opposite of the other painting; it’s purple so it’s a complementary color, but to me, it represents the opposite of this emerging feeling, more of a devastating feeling.”

Kim said what stands out the most to her about the graduating group is the support they show for one another, reflected through the work on display.

“It’s actually hard to maintain a truly supportive and nurturing environment while also maintaining standards,” she said. “It’s really heartwarming.”

Petrak said their “closeness,” which was only strengthened by the pandemic, allowed them to be “straight up with each other” and “honest with people and with feedback.”

“Boston’s sort of emerging art scene ebbs and flows…but it’s a really exciting time now for the Boston art scene,” Kim said. “There’s interest in our students’ works.”

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