Claremont Graduate University MFA Open Studios, April 30 2017
By Jacqueline Bell Johnson
Open studios are always a lot of fun. They are the precursor to the much more lucrative and serious art fair… and honestly, they tell a bigger story. One of process, one of thinking, one of making. A studio is a private space, where artists come to explore. Struggle, confrontation, failure, and ultimately breakthroughs happen in this space. Viewing an artist’s studio is a privilege not to be taken lightly.
Viewing the studios of students is no different. In fact, there is more to see, if you are willing to look for it. Student artists eventually move on to become emerging and then established artists out there in the art world. What you see in their studios is the budding of ideas that will direct the conversations in the next decade. For those that have gone to art school, there is recognition of the struggles of identity and placement. A constant question of where to stick to the path and where to veer off, rebelling against the advice of professors. In those whirling thoughts build the questions and theories that these students will go on to answer, maybe in a few years’ time.
If you are unfamiliar with Claremont Graduate University’s MFA program, here is a little background: It’s a large program, housing up to 25 students at any time. The curriculum is based on one-on-one studio visits with professors, including visiting adjunct and visiting lecturers. Students take a couple of formal classes a semester, but student time is mostly spent in making and talking about your work. The building itself was designed to be conducive to community building among the students. The structure’s second floor is a double ring of studios, with a backyard meant for larger, loud, or smelly work. Students have access 24 hours a day. CGU’s art building is nestled in the middle of the campus of the Claremont colleges, surrounded by Scripps on 3 sides and across from the Claremont Consortium run Honnold/Mudd Library.
And that potential to build community among the students? Walking through the open studios demonstrates it is in full swing. There are many shared spaces throughout the building: nooks for installation, small and large gallery spaces, empty studios, hallway and front office walls, and even the freight elevator was filled with student collaborations, mini-exhibitions, and art in every form. Viewers are rewarded for taking their time and keeping their eyes peeled.
In the large formal galleries (both East Gallery and the Peggy Phelps Gallery) at the main entrance was an exhibition of graduating students entitled Green Light. With a taco stand out front, a crowd started forming in the lobby as visitors were chatting, viewing art, and enjoying a snack. Faculty could be spotted, discussing student work with their guests. A trek down the hall led to installation spaces and studios housed on the first floor.
Walking upstairs steered visitors to the hustle and bustle you’d expect at such an event. Alumni could be heard reminiscing of their grad school days, families and friends of the students could be found lounging in studios, and neighbors and other locals could be seen admiring artwork. The skylights in the studios filled the hallways with the afternoon sunshine, highlighting the works hung there. CGU students were everywhere, offering insights into their process, celebrating the day, the semester, and the art.
If you would like to see more of CGU MFA students and their work, check this out there upcoming exhibition:
2017 SoCal MFA Juried Exhibition, presented by Claremont Graduate University and Millard Sheets Gallery on view through June 10th. Curated by CGU MFA students: Laura Myntti, Dakota Noot, & Chelsea Boxwell.
Millard Sheets Art Center, 1101 W. McKinley Ave, Pomona, California 91768
Claremont Graduate University Art Department, and the East & Peggy Phelps Phelps Galleries are located at 251 East 10th Street, Claremont, CA 91711. Phone: 909-621-8071
Students included at CGU’s MFA Open Studios 2017:
Meghan Augustine, Dixie Boswell, Diana Campuzano, Rachel Carson, Adrienne DeVine, Zack Jue, Jennifer King, Robert Larson(Tony), Denisse Leung Liu, Letian Luo(William), Maya Luque, Laura Myntti, Dakota Noot, Rafaella Suarez, Chien Tai, Laura Wilde, ChaoYi Wu (Stormy), Zhaoyang Zheng (Joey), Steve Beswick, Chelsea Boxwell, Adrienne Cole, Neila Durrer, Wenbo Fang, Leslie Frank, Thalia Isen, Megan Kinney, Jian Liang, Todd Mccaffrey, Jennifer Simms, Xinjie Yin (Yin), Shupeng Zhao (Ben), Tommy Burns, Alana Medina, Iain Muirhead, Bee Wilkie, Jenny Ziomek