June 6, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 19

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    M.F.A. 1996


    Annual show features work of eight students The annual M.F.A. show, on view from Thursday, July 11, through Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Smart Museum of Art, will be a show that explores relationships among seemingly unrelated works.

    The exhibition will feature works ranging from oil paintings and photographs to comic books and installations by eight artists who are graduating this year with Master of Fine Arts degrees: Brett Bloom, Shawn Calvert, Mark Huddle, David Krause, Piper, Rebecca Ravis, Stephanie Serpick and Mikelle Standbridge.

    "That art is a text to be read implies that art, like language, is dependent upon context for its meaning. The unifying context of this show at the Smart Museum, and more broadly, at the University of Chicago, places each artist's work in a raucous but productive dialogue with the others," writes Laura Letinsky, Assistant Professor in the Committee on Art & Design, in the catalog for the show.

    "I am less interested in uncovering a specific theme to which each artist might be made to conform -- since the artists' work and working habits vary widely -- and more interested in playing one artist's work against another's to see what happens formally and contextually," said Courtenay Smith, Assistant Curator at the Smart Museum. "In this sense, the exhibition is more about the mutating nature of relationships, a point I hope to emphasize by focusing on how objects complement or repel one another. This is more interesting than installing the show as a series of 'booths' each showcasing one artist's work.

    "I'll see what happens when I place one work by one artist next to a very different work by a different artist," Smith continued. "For example, Brett Bloom does video installations, and Piper has this huge piece, made up of 32 framed pictures created out of exploded caps from cap guns. But they both seem to address the compulsiveness of culture, and they address the question of what is fine art: is it a painting on a wall, or can it be something that invades my space?"

    "M.F.A. 1996" will open Wednesday, July 10, with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and a panel discussion with the artists at 6:30 p.m. For museum hours and more information, see the Continuing section of the Calendar, page 9.