Striking red on pale blue, the crying man depicted in graduate painting and drawing student Frank J. Stockton’s “Just Super” is one of the many provocative pieces of artwork produced by graduating MFA students as part of their first exhibit.
Stockton said “Just Super” explores the recurring theme in his work regarding power, fertility and disappointment of masculinity in contemporary society, but refrains from restricting the painting to any specific interpretation, as Stockton believes that art should be permeable in meaning.
“I hope people have mixed feelings when they look at it. It’s humorous; it’s a little absurd, and kind of sad, and I hope that people can read into the symbolism that’s in it and take that the way that they want,” Stockton said.
The MFA 2015 Exhibition, which opened Thursday in Broad Art Center’s New Wight Gallery, will feature the artwork of the 16 students from the department who are graduating in 2015.
Art pieces will vary in medium, including paintings, photography, sculpture, drawing and interdisciplinary works. Many pieces feature overlap between mediums as well as untraditional formats, such as graduate new genres student Abigail Collins’ video installation.
In her work, Collins explores political and cultural concerns surrounding her environment and its relationship with world events.
While there is no explicit overarching theme uniting the exhibition, the artists discuss diverse topics within their works, including cultural, social and political issues in modern society. Representing a wide array of perspectives, the artists are simultaneously offering a glimpse of their contributions to the future of contemporary society, said Christine Robinson, art history doctoral student and exhibit curator.
“The works ask interesting and provocative questions rather than all adhering to a certain theme,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who volunteered to curate the exhibit when the art history department was approached in the search for a curator, said she was interested in the opportunity to work closely with the students.
“There aren’t a lot of opportunities where our two departments come together,” Robinson said. “I liked the idea of getting to know the artists and their work, and the challenge of helping them organize their exhibition.”
Robinson said students were able to choose which of their works they submitted, consulting Robinson in the gallery space and her studio visits if they were conflicted about which piece to submit or about their vision for the presentation of their piece.
Because the artists are only beginning their last year, there is space for further exploration of the themes presented in their first exhibition of the year, ideas that they can continue to work on for their thesis, Robinson said.
Stockton said he views his submission as a preview to his thesis, as he plans to expand upon the ideas touched upon in “Just Super.”
Ultimately, Robinson said she hopes to have helped all artists display their works in their ideal formats.
“My role really was to be a neutral presence in the process of organizing the show, so that they had someone outside the department to assist them,” Robinson said. “My hope was to help everyone with their individual installation needs while creating an exhibition design that is successful as a whole.”
Robinson said the exhibition is expected to be well attended by students, faculty and interested members of the local art community attracted by the reputation of UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture.
“I’m looking forward to having a show with all the other graduating MFA students,” Stockton said. “This is our one chance to all have a show together.”
Compiled by Emaan Baqai, A&E; contributor.