2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition

March 30 – May 11, 2019

Reception | Saturday, APRIL 6, 3–5 pm

Artist Talks | Thursday, APRIL 11, 7 pm AHA! Night

Location: University Art Gallery, CVPA Star Store Campus, 715 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA 02740

Exhibiting artists:
Merri Cyr
Jeremy Duval
Patricia Flynn
Jennifer Halli
Jordi Lister
Brendan Lyons
Robert Najlis
Lauren Shepherd
Allen TenBusschen
Xiaodong Xu / 徐晓东

Curated by Viera Levitt

The UMass Dartmouth 2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition is a much anticipated and celebrated annual event showcasing the artwork of graduating students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts throughout the first floor of Star Store Campus in Downtown New Bedford. The creative work of graduating students ranges from traditional media such as ceramics and painting to video, digital media, site-specific installations or interactive objects.

Even though Jennifer Hallis’ large-in-scale, yet intimate pieces are organized around a grid, there is nothing predictable about them. Their ceramic and paper elements are fragile, some aged by time, some by the harbor. They bear the memory of the outdoors as they interact with other materials including sugar in thoughtful dialogue about memory and the passing of time.

Robert Najilis’ large painting scrolls surprise us not only for the scale, magnitude, and richness of narrative behind them, but also for their interactivity, as is the case in one piece, where sound emanates as it responds to the visitor’s movement.

Jordi Lister shows us just how far ceramics has traveled from the simple utilitarian even while maintaining their functionality. Her plates and cups laid on an embroidered tablecloth are intertwined and become part of an interactive feast recorded on video and in wine stains on the fabric. Her drinking fountain emerges from the colorful patterned table as in a dream that needs to be experienced. This option is offered by the artist during the opening reception on April 6, 2019.

Allen TenBuschen paints visceral, lush unpretentiously posed portraits of people he knows well in order to find the "real" person even as we as a society constantly monitor and guard how we look and feel.

Brendan Lyons wants to test the limits for exploring the depth of anxiety. Once the exhibition visitor put their hand upon his elaborate metal device, Brendan will strap it to a metal hand with a spike in the middle. He then reads from a clipboard. Could he be trusted if something goes wrong?

Patricia Flynn’s work has a meditative, introspective quality, even while charged with repeated touches of her hand. Her rich topographical surfaces include thread, glue, fragile tea bags and text, and even surprising light shimmering beneath her subdued colors.

Merri Cyr’s environment transports us into both the 19th century and the technological future. Interacting with the text of New Bedford’s most iconic novel, Moby Dick, a visitor becomes both a writer and interpreter in the gallery space, itself illuminated by the magic blue light of a touchscreen and a projection that shares the space with an antique table, chair or real and suggested mirrors.

Jeremy Duval’s work that covers the entire wall has the feel of free floating graffiti created in unpredictable ways and compositions. There are "messages to self" and messages for the viewer; some are crossed out, yet still legible. There is no horror vacui, some areas are empty as if waiting for more to come.

Xiaodong Xu’s work offers an insight into dystopian worlds from the future or past, heroes that feel in his illustrations "sculptural" surrounded by imaginary scenes that beg to become animations.

Black identity is the theme that finds its expression in Lauren Shepherd’s art. In her work, her own face is the background for an uncomfortable target that coexists with elements of historical imagery connected to slavery. While the colors are vibrant, her ceramic objects are hung by many nails that tether the pieces to the wall.

The reception for the MFA Thesis Exhibition is on Saturday, April 6, 3–5 pm. Please join us also for the artist talks on Thursday, April 11 at 7 pm during the AHA! Night at UMass Dartmouth Star Store Campus.

All events are free and open to the public. 


College of Visual and Performing Arts, Gallery University Art Gallery