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MFA exhibit will dazzle

"Presence:Reflection" - Mary Meyer, a sculpture graduate student, installs "Presence: Reflection" in the University of Arizona Museum of Art yesterday. Fourteen MFA students who graduate in May exhibit their work in the School of Art MFA Thesis Exhibition at UAMA and the Joseph Gross Gallery from Friday to May 13. The opening reception is Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7, 2005
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The first floor of the UA's Museum of Art has been in shambles all week and the Joseph Gross Gallery is in pretty bad shape, too.

Hopefully, the Master of Fine Arts students will have their artwork up and ready in time for their public reception tomorrow evening.

While rushing against the clock to put the final touches on their masterpieces, a few master's students were kind enough to speak to the press about their work and their meanings.


Anyone who has attended the UA for more than a semester knows the legacy of the "Pukey Bear" and "Marmalade" comics featured in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

Their creator, Chris Case, will be giving them a proper sendoff in his exhibit, which also includes color illustrations, samples of his children's books, such as "Dog Restaurant" and "Bad Dog Sydney."

"There's some other nonsense," he said, probably referring to his collection of video game reviews in his statement. "Everything's meant to be read."

While some students create art about their painful life experiences, Case creates art to entertain audiences rather than to overwhelm them.

"I'm just writing stories. I'm just trying to be better at creating visual narratives," he said.

"These represent the path I'm hoping to continue.

"It's about accessibility, too. It's intimidating when a work of art is too personal. It kind of drives me away."

Because he's been reading comics since he was a kid, comic book drawing and writing came naturally to Case.

"Books, comics, movies, TV. It's all sequential storytelling," he said. "I could have been happy with either of those, but comics sparked more of my interest. It has a special power that other mediums don't."


Mary Meyer, whose focus is in sculpture, probably had more single objects to assemble than anyone else in the exhibit. In her two part series, "Presence," Meyers demonstrates her sculpting skills with clay and metal figures.

The portion, titled "Reflection," comes in the form of about 650 sculptures, each created in polished cast aluminum and hung with sewing needles. The ceramic pieces used to create the castings covering a bed of sand on the floor are titled "Absorption," and are mirrored in "Reflection."

"They all become a culmination of the present," Meyer said of her installment.

The shapes, snowflake-like in that each one is truly unique, appear to be human genitals, leaves, birds and other abstract but familiar shapes, and come in various sizes.

"They're based on nature, but they're also based on the human form," Meyer said of the sculptures. "Our human bodies mirror what's in nature."

Meyer said she has always painted and drawn, but her interest in sculpture was sparked 20 years ago when she began working as a stone carver.

"It's a very introspective kind of work," she said of sculpture. "I love casting. I'm very addicted to metal casting."

Graphic design

Other artists used their art as a form of commentary on politics.

With a focus in graphic design, Scott Musty used bold colors to trigger bold statements in each 24 by 36 image, which he created with digital output, or computer illustration.

"Homeland Security" portrays Death in a business suit, carrying a sickle colored like a U.S. flag. By juxtaposing the concept of homeland security with death, Musty said he was trying to take a different spin on the way people comprehend the purpose of homeland security.

"Spreading Freedom" portrays an eagle dropping seven bombs, which spell out a downward spiral of "F-R-E-E-D-O-M." A flag-covered coffin is symbolic of military burial in "No Child Left Behind," Musty said.

"A lot of privileged children go into the military, but all the casualties of war are somebody's children," he said. "Are we going to keep sending our children to war?"

Musty said his goal is to get viewers to ask themselves about the questions posed in the artwork, not to necessarily start conflict.

"I think some people might find this imagery a little offensive, but it's meant to open up an avenue of discussion," he said.

In "Corporate Opportunity," the continents of the world are created from smoke emerging from an industrial plant.

"It's basically the world going up in smoke," Musty said.

For those who get upset over his artwork and decide to douse them with red paint or something, just be aware that he can always print more.

"These are personal reactions and personal statements on what's been going on in the world," Musty said, particularly in regard to foreign policies and other political issues started by the U.S. government.

"This is kind of stepping out on a limb for me," he admits, since he is not usually so politically provocative.


The MFA exhibit also extends from the UAMA and into the Joseph Gross Gallery in the School of Art.

Ian Kimmerly is exhibiting three multi-paneled paintings, all inspired from his six-month trip to Europe last spring during a student exchange program.

The first sentence of his thesis statement sums his work up perfectly: "I gain inspiration from my confusion, which is unlimited."

After returning to the United States, Kimmerly said he began working on "Terror Talk," during the time election propaganda started "getting kicked up."

A woman clutching her daughter, who is clutching her teddy bear, represents a false sense of protection. The terror blows over that protection in a huge oncoming blob of red closing in on them.

"I think red is an alarming color," he said.

"The Last Look," based on a photograph he took while in Bratislava, Slovakia, incorporates human interaction with the intrusiveness of architecture and other industrial elements that subtract from cultural identity.

"They're all a reaction to how you feel about being in an urban environment," Kimmerly said.

"There is Here," an almost monochromatic display of black, white and grays, is a "play on place," which demonstrates how the fast growth of cities creates confusion within society.

"I just wanted to try to capture that confusion," he said. "And also, how do you convey that with paint? It's a very specific thing."

The public reception for the UA School of Art's Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition will be held tomorrow from 5-7 p.m. The exhibit will run until May 15.

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