Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the University Art Gallery is currently closed. We would like to thank all the students that were able to install and document their 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition before our campus closed.
UMass Dartmouth 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition will stay at Star Store Campus through September 10, 2020.
Closing Reception: AHA! Night, Thursday, September 10, 6-8.30 pm
Curated by Viera Levitt
This annual exhibition celebrates the artwork of graduating students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts in large-scale exhibition at the Star Store Campus.
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.
Note from our Guest Speaker
Being from New Bedford and Fairhaven I have a strong and long affiliation with the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMass Dartmouth. I have lectured, participated in seminars, exhibited and made prints in the Star Store Campus. One of the school’s nude models is even a friend of mine.
Speaking with this year's graduate students has made me cognizant of just how advanced the program has become. The artists from the grad program I encountered were remarkably thoughtful and articulate. They seemed not only capable of making art work of significance, but were also skilled in the eloquent verbal expression of their issues and methodologies. I was impressed with their mastery of art history and theory. It was a sheer pleasure to encounter such a dynamic and competent group of artists.
- Mark Dion after the online Artist Talks on April 16, 2020
Greetings from the Office of the Dean
The Dean’s welcome to the Thesis Exhibition of our Master of Fine Arts Degree students generally serves to introduce the show to the public and to sketch out its importance in the process of completing the MFA, the terminal degree in studio arts. This year and because of the enormous interruption to all daily routines caused by the COVID-19 virus, my introduction to the 2020 edition of the MFA Thesis Exhibition is a little bit different. The exhibition still presents work that is the product of a rigorous curriculum and demanding faculty in studio, art history, and seminar courses and numerous group and individual critiques. It is still the culminating experience in the degree program for our soon-to-be newest group of graduates. And we are still proud to share it, that is the creative accomplishments of our students, with you, their families, friends, the CVPA and UMass Dartmouth community, and the public.
The work of the nine artists who were able, given significant restrictions, to install their pieces and projects in the exhibition spaces at the Star Store Campus, represents a full range of studio practice from the more traditional art materials to digital media, site-specific installations, and ceramic. It also represents an act of bravery and artistic dedication. This exhibition might never be seen by more than the few who were involved in curating and installing it. It will be documented, and it will be shared in this catalog, online and through social media. It offers new and exciting ways to bring art to a public beyond the confines of the gallery. But it is also presented with a sense of loss. The excitement artists get from seeing their work alongside that of their friends and colleagues, the chance to show it to friends and family, and the celebration that comes with all of this is absent this year. No social media gathering can replace that experience. I celebrate the success of the exhibition and all our graduating MFA students, including the two who were not able to include their work in this show. At the same time, I share the sense of sadness or loss, the feeling of a larger anxiety that is part of our lives right now, that comes with presenting the MFA Thesis Exhibition
Most of all, though, this exhibition is not only a culmination but also a beginning as our newly minted alumni move forward as artists. Their paths will go in many different directions, but the work you see here is the foundation upon which they chart their courses through the world of working artists and designers. The work each of these students will make in ten years or even five will not look like what they are exhibiting here, but that future work will be rooted in the rigor of the program here and the metaphorical blood, sweat, and tears these young artists invested in it.
I am so thrilled by the accomplishments of each member of the MFA class of 2020, and I wish them continued success as they make their way forward and away from the Star Store Campus. I hope you will join me in celebrating their success and their hard work. Congratulations to all.
Lawrence Jenkens, Dean
College of Visual and Performing Art
Notes From The Exhibition Curator
It is strange to write about an exhibition and not know when it will open or how long it will be up for. This is the first time we have found ourselves "behind the mirror" in the unanticipated and unpredictable world of global pandemic. While it will eventually become an interesting story for our grandchildren, it has been, at times, overwhelmingly challenging. In spite of this, the artists in our exhibition have been able to tell a unique story; of overcoming obstacles and personal resilience. Installing one at a time and facing strict time constraints with curatorial feedback via Zoom (yes, left, right, can you please step away and show me the work from the door, walk around?) our students are now able to tell this unique and often heroic and indeed fleeting story of their final thesis presentation, installed in the Star Store campus building that has closed as soon as we were done installing and documenting. The exhibition is now sitting in the gallery like in a time capsule, while the 2020 class awaits a time when they can be celebrated for their persistence and creativity.
In the meanwhile, we have moved our programming online and we have for you this catalog. One thing we were again made aware of was how important art is for making sense of things, for formulating and thinking about our situation, helping us to embrace uncertainty and especially, for creating human connection. The art scene, while dormant on the outside, is bubbling like a sourdough yeast starter, waiting patiently to bake bread and share it in a symbolic gesture of togetherness. We will have opening receptions and artist talks again, sharing a glass and hugs with each other as we await the opportunity to savor the art that brings us together. And, from now on, we will not take this experience for granted.