AND THEN . . . 2018 MFA Visual Narrative Thesis Exhibition
School of Visual Arts presents “And Then . . .,” an exhibition of works by the MFA Visual Narrative class of 2018. Curated by faculty members Jonathon Rosen and Ed Valentine, “And Then . . .” is on view Saturday, June 30, through Saturday, July 21, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.
Throughout human history, artists and storytellers have taken on the task of responding to the times in which they live. This work is not only necessary, but it becomes absolutely urgent in periods of great peril. Once again, we find ourselves living through a time where we are dependent on creative people to sound warnings, to tell hard truths, to offer solace or respite—and sometimes, to point the way towards a better future.
The nine artist-storytellers in this show all use their considerable craft to respond to our current and increasingly unstable era. Through their main characters, we see our own world reflected, and our own possible responses to the times foreshadowed.
In some of the projects, characters suffer shattering losses of loved ones. They slowly, fumblingly, learn to make sense of their lives again in the wilds of the jungle (Luisa Ulhoa’s Amazonas) or in the deepest reaches of space (Matthew Murphy’s On Silent Ground).
In others, characters battle entire worlds after their societies are revealed to be authoritarian (Alex Barksy’s Sun Cell), diseased (Kenny Nam’s Medicine Man) or literally crumbling apart around them, brick by brick (Ethan Gould’s Pericardia).
When all seems lost, some characters hunker down in tight spaces and seek comfort in close relationships (Shannon O’Halloran’s Coupling), while others flee to the open highway, hitchhiking cross-country in hopes of finding freedom and a future (Jie Ren’s Detour). Either way, however, shadows of the past follow close behind, making true comfort and freedom hard to find.
Yet as dark as the times can be, we see these artists offering clear, bright flickers of hope. Whether their characters face off with dangerous sea beasts (Roda Al-Thani’s Bo Darya), or whether they confront more farcical misunderstandings of their own making in the heightened emotions of art school (Jenny Bee’s Negative Space), in the end these storytellers demonstrate a belief that the combined powers of pictures and words can help us find common ground.
Through it all, these students have experimented with form and materials, each finding a unique visual expression that perfectly suits each story. We are impressed with their artistry and dedication, and we are proud to send these nine students—and their responses to the times we live in—out into the world. We hope that you and many others will hear what they have to say.