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Bruins in Paris

Graduate students showcase works in second of MFA Exhibition series

By Kelsey Rocha

April 6, 2015 12:00 a.m.

The original article inaccurately stated the location of the city, Hebron. Hebron is located in the West Bank.

A space expedition, a ceramic city, a superhero reinvention and a scene from the Israel-Palestine conflict comprise the second exhibition in the graduate students’ series, MFA Exhibition No. 2.

The exhibition will run through Friday in the New Wight Gallery in the Broad Art Center.

As the second of four, this exhibition includes installations from four masters of fine arts candidates: sculpture student Brooks Turner, ceramics student Kim Truong, sculpture student Tamara Anne Weller and painting student Frank J. Stockton.

Brooks Turner | Sculpture

Turner’s piece features a space-odyssey tunnel entrance adorned with rolls of unraveled film. It leads into a dark room where an hour-long film he made about the conflicting relationship between a black hole and a star plays.

“It’s called the ‘Accretion of HDE226868 into Cygnus X-1’ and then there’s the film ‘Cygnus X-1,’” Turner said. “I’m really taken by cosmic phenomena and ‘Cygnus X-1’ because it’s a black hole binary, so it’s a star and a black hole in a death spiral through space.”

In researching for the project, Turner said the language surrounding the phenomenon built a poeticism about the relationship between the star and the black hole that helped him build his narrative.

“There were instances where the black hole and star were referred to as companions,” Turner said. “It created this narrative in my head about these two stars and the transformation of one into a black hole and its consumption of the star.”

Turner said his installation explores the relationship between film and sculpture, something he was inspired to do after watching “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“In creating this feature-length film, some of my past sculptures play as characters, and I think about filming the characters as if they were moving in space like ancient Greek heroic statues,” Turner said.

Kim Truong | Ceramics

Truong, whose focus is in ceramics, said her number-titled collection was meant to fit together at as a community.

Truong said her inspiration for her pieces was in part connected to her relationship with language. She said, as a displaced person from Vietnam, she consequently learned some of Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

“I’m developing a language with this piece because with my background, I never really learned the first language well, so when I started learning English, there was a sense of disconnection,” Truong said.

Her installation features three parts. On an elevated table she positioned dozens of miniature sculptures of all shapes and sizes in a village-like formation. Then, along the entrance wall Truong created a series of textured rods, and inside the gallery she has a collection of human-sized cylinders.

“Many of these objects are fragments of things that I see and experience. It’s very abstract,” Truong said.

The pieces are each titled with numbers, which Truong said is the larger point of the project.

“It’s about common people,” Truong said. “I titled them as numbers because in society common people are just considered numbers, and only some people are considered as people.”

Tamara Anne Weller | Sculpture

Weller said she used her exhibition as an opportunity to explore the Israel-Palestine conflict. A Jewish-Canadian student, Weller said she was initially drawn to the matter because of her Jewish identity and many of her conceptualizations were a result of her time living in Hebron in the West Bank with the Palestine Solidarity Project.

“It’s about a lot of religious violence and extremism,” Weller said.

Her piece has checkered floor panels leading into an opened house with a crumbling wall, and a ceramic cat sits just beside the fabricated carnage. Inside the house there is a headless soldier, and the ashen remains of a body nests among ruins. Weller said constructing the piece was an emotionally draining endeavor.

“I was having bad dreams for a while, so I think it was getting into my psychological space,” Weller said. “I think it’s a lot to ask any viewer to feel that much for an object, but I would like the spaces between representations to make people feel something.”

In addition to her time spent in Israel, Weller did extensive research around the peace processes and the Oslo peace talks to solidify her conceptualizations.

“There’s a falseness in what we believe is peace, and I was looking at that for this piece as well,” Weller said.

Frank J. Stockton | Painting

Stockton said he drew on research from mythology, Freudian ideology and modern philosophies on identity to create his painting installation.

“The series is called ‘True Believers’ and I got the idea after I read Joseph Campbell’s book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces,’ which planted the idea of monomyth in my head,” Stockton said. “It got me thinking about how history is the father of mythology and how things come in and out of fact and fiction.”

The large canvases depict superhero imagery in two colors. Each painting is at least four feet tall. The aesthetic draws on Stockton’s past experience as a cartoonist, but Stockton said the paintings seek to tell a bigger narrative.

“All the pieces have imagery of capes and it’s something you see in American superheroes; it’s a symbol of power,” Stockton said.

Stockton said his work as an MFA candidate provided an opportunity for storytelling he couldn’t achieve in the commercial world of professional cartooning.

“I wanted to emphasize authorship and focus on the stories I wanted to tell. Working in cartoons, you’re working with a team and when someone says, ‘no’ there’s only so much you can do,” Stockton said. “I wanted to paint as much as possible and that’s why I’m here.”

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Kelsey Rocha
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