Selections from Thesis Projects in the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department
School of Visual Arts presents “Selections from Thesis Projects in the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department,” an exhibition that brings together children’s books, graphic novels, figurative paintings, comic books and other narrative works by 19 students graduating from the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department. Curated by faculty member David Sandlin, the exhibition will be on view from April 26 through May 11 at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, New York City.
Natalya Balnova’s Customized for the Maximum Relaxation is a collection of four catalogs, divided by subject matter, all examining consumerism. The project is based on real advertisements, which have been converted to a kaleidoscope of insanity. Balnova plays with the images to suggest alternative readings of their content, showing them as humorous and absurd reality.
POST is a comic book by Molly Brooks set 80 years after the apocalypse. The story depicts a soldier-turned-courier who falls in love with a scientist after being hired to deliver a series of anonymous love notes to her isolated workshop.
Jonathan Burkhardt’s The Death of Frederick H. Burkhardt (and his life) by his grandson is about the artist’s experience helping his grandfather write his memoirs. Using various printmaking techniques to create the imagery, the work also deals with the grandfather’s death, which occurred shortly after the completion of the first draft.
Matthew Burrows’ Social Synergy: Through Obsessive Thought encompasses three original works, each addressing a unique social situation obsessively researched by the artist. The first piece addresses the conflicts that have occurred in Rio de Janeiro since Brazil won the bids for the upcoming Olympics and World Cup. The second focuses on the artist’s friend, who is attempting to start a community from scratch in an abandoned area of Oregon, a utopian endeavor that is also suggestive of ways to improve existing communities and everyday life in America. The third is about how the increasing urbanization and digitization of everyday life has influenced the issue of “nature versus nurture.”
Rovina Cai’s Something Rich and Strange explores myths and stories related to the theme of transformation, with each image illustrating a different aspect of a particular story. The illustrations were used to design a book cover and packaging for each of the chosen stories.
Dave Casey’s Lucidogen is a series of 16 covers for books by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick. As Dick’s private life very much influenced his writing, these works allude to events in his home life while also serving as compelling illustrations that relate to the novels.
Boyeon Choi’s SOFA (Society of Frustrated Artists) is an annual report from an imaginary art residency, where frustrated artists get treatments for “art-related stress” and at the same time are secretly being censored and controlled.
Using conceptual images, Hye Jin Chung’s What are you obsessed with? explores the anxieties and fears faced in daily life, from small preoccupations to clinical conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Maëlle Doliveux’s My Regards to OULIPO: Eponymous Anonymous is an illustrative homage to the literary group OULIPO, which creates texts through constrained writing exercises. Creating similar constraints in illustration, the first part of the project is a series of silk-screened posters presenting four classic OULIPO works as theatrical productions. The second part is a series of covers for books with titles that include the name of the main character, which show a minimal amount of the main character on the cover.
Che Min Hsiao’s My Journey to the West is a mixed-media painting about the artist’s voyage from Taiwan to New York. The piece is interwoven with the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, in which the artist becomes the monk, in search of the meaning of this journey.
Federico Infante’s The Pathology of Nowhere consists of a series of paintings reflecting the process of the artist’s work over the last year.
Keren Katz’s The Night Poetry Class in Room 1001 is a collection of 12 short stories in comic form. The cast of characters consists of the staff, faculty and students of a faraway institute of higher education and the stories concern the strange manifestations of their dormant mesmeric powers as they fall in love. The framing narrative is the artist’s version of Scheherazade in “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights,” who buys herself more time by telling stories.
Hyunyoung Kim’s People in Shoes is a story of ordinary people, their extraordinary lives and their shoes.
Sarah Klinger’s Entre Chien et Loup / Between Dog and Wolf is a collection of humorous illustrations that aim to unveil the true meaning of some of the most bizarre and delightful French expressions.
Keith Negley’s We tell no one is a series of illustrations inspired by found notes, centering on the theme of “relationship.” Tragedy, banality, sexuality and the human condition are explored to arrive what is extremely personal yet universal to us all.
Jade Schulz’s When Sarah Came is a picture book story of how the artist’s mother survived the epic Typhoon Sarah at the age of 10.
Karen Steinecke’s Unsavory is a series of book covers illustrating some of Roald Dahl's less popular and more unsavory short stories for adults, each infused with his characteristic dark humor and unhappy endings.
Andrea Tsurumi’s Behold the Killbot & Other Stories is a collection of images and stories on the theme of absurd life writ large. Tackling Andrew Jackson's raucous inauguration, a twist on a bedtime story, the infinite pain of killer robots and weird history, the illustrations play merry hell with our odd past and odder future.
Yue Wang’s Who is my Mom? is a children’s story about an egg looking for its mom.
The MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay is designed to maximize students’ opportunities as figurative artists, from the conventional gallery wall to the full range of 21st-century media. The program fuses the development of creative thinking with technical and communication skills. Additional focus is placed on best practices in navigating the visual art marketplace while empowering students to choose making art as a way of life.