SoCal MFA 2018 at Millard Sheets Art Center

Timothy Haerens in SoCal MFA 2018, Millard Sheets Art Center. Photo Credit: Kristine Schomaker.

SoCal MFA 2018 Juried Exhibition

at Millard Sheets Art Center
Through June 2


by Jacqueline Bell Johnson

Many of the works in this exhibition start out visually striking, funny, and vibrant but quickly move to discomforting, lingering, even grotesque explorations. Thinking of artists as a reflection of their times (even if unwillingly so), this work is a collective voice of what’s to come, our life and times ahead should be noted with a certain gravity.

The show was juried by retired LACMA curator of contemporary art Howard N. Fox and represents 17 southern California MFA programs, spreading from the Inland Empire to San Fernando Valley, down to San Diego and of course, Los Angeles. A sprawling exhibition space hosted forty-two artists with room to breathe between doses. This show represents a continued partnership between Claremont Graduate University’s MFA program and the Millard Sheets Art Center housed in the LA County fairgrounds. This year’s student organizers from CGU were Chelsea Boxwell, Megan Kinney, and Madeline Arnault.

Here are a few highlights:

California State University Fullerton MFA student, Allison Holland’s The Repairing Chair is a cheerful, yarn-bombed wheelchair. Its starts out whimsical and almost cute. Covered in summery colored granny squares that swag between the wheels, the curved form and the process it entails almost distract from the broken sight and disturbing narrative of the wheelchair’s damaged state. The yarn becomes a desperate attempt to place a band-aid on a fatal wound.

Hailing from LCAD is painter Harrison Halaska, whose Untitled is a heavily textured representational oil painting which depicts a corner of a room, occupied by a skeleton wearing a pink dress. It’s funny, a lighthearted Halloween scene; examining the circumstances that led to this view, not so much. It becomes a visual parable on sloth.

In the back gallery of the exhibition hall, in its own pocketed space, plays a video on loop that instructs the viewer on museum etiquette. It’s a single channel video made by Ji Soo Chung of UCLA called Museum Manners for Siri. The premise of asking Siri about the museum at first it seems to address the Eastern versus Western approach. As the video progresses, it builds in its layers and edits, which in turn cranks up anxiety in the viewer as they are left in physical discomfort in response to the exhibition space. A great visual on the long-criticized, but rarely addressed discomfort many feel in the physical space of cultural institutions.

Jonathon Yacoub’s photograph Calamity is a haunting image of a man in a suit collapsing onto a road in a country landscape. His head has disappeared into a towering plume of thick black smoke, seemingly brought about by a murder of ravens fluttering in the frame. The image is unforgettable, wreaking havoc on the brain for days as the viewer attempts to decipher the image. To choose the ominous narrative seems to be the easy path; the veteran art viewer will move through scenarios, ultimately weighing between release or capture. Yacoub is just finishing up his first year in the Claremont Graduate University MFA program.

Jonathan Yacoub, Leslie Frank, and Heather Roessler, Installation View, SoCal MFA 2018, Millard Sheets Art Center. Photo Credit: Kristine Schomaker.
SoCalMFA Annual Juried Exhibition
Hosted by Claremont Graduate University
at Millard Sheets Art Center (at the Fairplex)


Discussion panel and reception; The MFA Experience, Moderated by David Pagel.
May 20th, 2-4pm.

A discussion based, Question and Answer Panel with artists in the exhibition.
Exhibition open through June 2nd, 2018.

This year’s SoCalMFA team is Claremont MFA students Chelsea Boxwell, Megan Kinney, and Madeline Arnault. This is an exhibition for MFA students, organized by MFA students. This year, the exhibition will represent 17 MFA programs throughout Southern California. Accepted students come from UC San Diego, Cal Arts, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, Azusa Pacific University, CSU San Diego, CSU San Bernardino, CSU Northridge, Laguna College of Art and Design, CSU Fullerton, Claremont Graduate University, UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern California, Otis College of Art and Design, CSU Long Beach, UC Riverside, and Art Center College of Design.

Accepted artists: Madeline Arnault, Diego Barrientos, Aurora Berger, Deitra Charles, Patricia Chow, Ji Soo Chung, Carey Coleman, Remi Dalton, Yubo Dong, Stevan Dupus, Jenny Eisenpresser, Samantha Fitzmorris, Leslie Frank, Joshua Freeman, Molly Gabbard, Eleanor Garcia Mazzini, Timothy Haerens, Harrison Halaska, Allison Holland, Lucy Holtsnider, Anna Ialeggio, Chloe Jeongmyo Kim, Aleya Lanteigne, Jian Liang, Jane Margarette, Michelle Nunes, Shane McClatchey, Moses Muturi, Aydinaneth Ortiz, Joshua Rains, Rebecca Rich, Celia Rocha, Heather Roessler, Cintia Segovia, Kamaria Shepherd, Nicole Waszak, Charisse Weston, Amy Williams, Ji Hyun Won, Jonathan Yacoub, Zebulon Zang, and Benjamin Zhao.

Millard Sheets Art Center
Gallery Hours: Sat & Sun 10-5pm & by appointment.


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