MFA exhibit shows years of artwork

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Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

The UA’s Museum of Art’s 2015 thesis exhibition features works of master's students. The exhibition will remain open to the public until May 15.

The students hoping to graduate with a Master of Fine Arts this May are currently undergoing their final exam with their art pieces on display in a special exhibit at the UA Museum of Art.

“The MFA thesis exhibition is to showcase the art of each graduating MFA [candidate] to the public, university and school of art,” said MFA student Thomas Alexander Saffle. “The show is also a final test requirement of each student pursuing an MFA.”

Not only does the public get to see the art from each of the students, but the graduate students also get a chance to browse through their peers’ work.

“The purpose is to show off how we have honed out skills at expressing our ideas and concerns over the course of three years of study at the UA,” said student Serge J-F. Levy. “In an advertent way, it has also been the first opportunity many of us have had to see each other’s work since partaking in required first-year courses. It’s been great to see the outcome.”

The exhibit serves as a sort of culmination of the past three years of study and showcases all of the hard effort the students have used to create their works.  

“[I decided] take a summer painting class with my trusted professor, Mr. Alfred Quiroz [to prepare for the exhibit],” said Leanne Carol Miller, an MFA student. “During [the] six weeks, I worked in the studio five days a week, as if it were a job; I experimented and tried new things.”

Miller said she began planning her piece for the exhibit almost a year ago, when her work from her summer class became a sort of concept art for her final piece. Over the course of this year, she used photos of nature that she had taken to influence her piece.

“My work currently deals with slightly fantastical landscapes as my native land but includes abstraction in places to describe the unseen, unknowable and mysterious,” Miller said.

Levy said he was raised an artist, and the UA has helped him expand his horizons.

“I was born and bred and spent most of my life in New York City,” Levy said. “I was surrounded by artists and I always frequented museums and galleries. Moving to the desert was the best thing I could have done for my art. It has compelled me to use the surrounding landscape — the desert flora, fauna and topography — as a source of reflection and inspiration.”

This change in environment has also drastically impacted Levy’s work, as it once consisted of mainly city photography, and it now is mainly landscape and personal documentary photographs.

Saffle said he also had a similar experience after attending the UA.

“My horizons were broadened considerably,” Saffle said. “I learned and was exposed to many more different artists’ artwork and was educated to a greater degree about how to think and theorize in general.”

Saffle has been working on his piece for the exhibit for about a year and a half, so it is evident that he spent an immense amount of time planning and laying out his final work. His style, as he describes it, is “a mixture of craftsmanship and symbolism utilizing landscape as a genre.”

Many of the artists have different plans concerning what they wish to do after graduation. Miller will be teaching as an adjunct here at the UA over the summer and will also be taking multiple residencies at different locations in order to further broaden her horizons. Levy is currently applying for teaching positions throughout the country, because he said he wants to be able to spread the inspiration and energy that art can bring to a classroom.

The MFA exhibit will be at the UA Museum of Fine Art through May 15, and admission is free to all UA students with a valid CatCard. Come explore the works of these talented UA students as they seek out their Master of Fine Arts.

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