2022 Studio Art BFA Thesis Exhibition
In Leiu of a Curatorial Statement
“What should be political? Whether we enjoy what we do to get food and shelter. Whether we feel like our daily interactions with our friends, neighbors, and coworkers are fulfilling. Whether we have the opportunity to live each day the way we desire to.” ~ Nadia C.
The waning of postmodernism manifests an existential metaxy: the unstable horizon where artistic inner worlds mine social narratives to perpetually reconstruct the personal with the materials of public. Aspirations of self-understanding encounter proposals in the materials of the public sphere, at hand to be dismantled, reframed, explored… An anticipation of myriad destinies from archipelago selves: the where-from as wherefore.
A number of artworks in this exhibition unfurl threads that themselves were only partially available to the artist: reflections of cultural traditions and personal experiences, seen and reassessed from the rearview mirror in order to construct a new commitment to oneself as an individual within kaleidoscopic communities. Let’s avoid the temptation to so easily assume an overarching framework within these aesthetic impulses. Frameworks, after all, can only be imposed. In its engagement with the past and its memories, the artworks navigate impossible-to-fill caesuras and unmapped spaces. The aesthetic granularity estipulate experiential microcosms: to encounter another’s experience from the starting point of not knowing rather than making-known.
The 2022 BFA exhibition finds itself without a curator, without unification or undercurrent or framing. Indeed, it finds itself without a proper exhibition title bounding the artworks. Let’s not here see deficiency but defiance… the circumstantial lending a hand. There’s much self-reflection and desire to immediacy in this exhibition, a joyous revolt against pre-existing structures that assumed a full givenness to the spectator. The artworks here thread personal stories and experiences that confront the viewers with something beyond their full conceptual grasp. A hundred years ago the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset wrote that modern art was not meant to be aesthetically enjoyed but, rather, to be understood. But who says the viewer has to understand? If one thing emerges from this exhibition, it is the aesthetic desire to be listened and engaged with, not to be explained, much less explained-away.
A disruption of frontiers, in no man’s land—the twentieth century looks back at modern narratives and concepts in light of the artists and theorists that deconstructed them. Neither fulfilled their goals or provided sure footing to construct new projects, aesthetic, ethic, or political. The contemporary young artist is left to find a path to reinvent the optimism of modernity, with its hopes and nowadays much-needed social aspirations, in the aftermath of the long postmodern structural disarticulation of those very aspirations that by now has become out of time, aged, ineffectual even. Existential perspectives are re-invoked. It’s a question of instability and relentless becoming. Indeed, much in this exhibition exists in the granular betweens.
If there’s to be art in the future, an art to puncture assumptions and generate new alternatives, it will have to speak with authenticity and sincerity, even in jest and play. All art is political, and if there’s to be art-to-come, it will have to bring with it a joyous displacement of the past, it will have to look back and redefine the self in its own individual terms to foment a new sense of the collective, grounded in flight.
We would like to extend our thanks to the many people who have supported the BFA class of 2022 through a year of creative growth. Thank you to the studio faculty advisors: Cynthia Camlin, Lisa Turner, Sasha Petrenko, Seiko Purdue, Garth Amundson, Cara Jaye, Pierre Gour, Chris Vargas, and our coordinator this year, Ryan Kelly. Thank you to the Art History faculty, Monique Kerman, Julia Sapin, and especially Jimena Berzal de Dios who contributed to this publication. Thank you to the wonderfully supportive departmental staff, Glen Tobosa, Allen Frost, Douglas Loewen, and Nathan Cranston. Thank you to Dean Christopher Bianco. Thank you to the designer of the catalog, Emma Larson. And of course, thank you to the Western Gallery Director Hafthor Yngvanson for hosting this exhibition, and to Jody Thompson and the gallery interns for your expert help in mounting the exhibition.
Image by Elly Minagawa