As the culmination of a three-year program through the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, Master of Fine Arts candidates will have their work displayed at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum for six weeks, from March 23 to May 5. An opening reception for the exhibit will take place on Saturday, March 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the MSU Broad and each of the MFA candidates will give artist talks on Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. also at the museum.
The five MFA candidates — Laurén Brady, Chelsea Markuson, Mary Peacock, Mehrdad Sedaghat, and Andrew Somoskey — will showcase their creative research as evidence of their achievements through the MFA program, which encourages candidates to participate in intensive research in their concentrated field combined with coursework surrounding art history.
“Thanks to the ongoing partnership between the Broad Art Museum and the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, this exhibition serves not only as an important opportunity for professional development for our graduating MFA candidates, but it allows us to share the diverse creative practices of Laurén Brady, Chelsea Markuson, Mary Peacock, Mehrdad Sedaghat, and Andrew Somoskey with the greater MSU community,” said Jacquelynn Sullivan, Director of Galleries and Outreach and Programming Coordinator. “We are very excited to share the highly individual and dedicated pursuits of all of our MFA candidates.”
This year, the annual Master of Fine Arts Prize will be awarded to an outstanding candidate by guest juror Tina Rivers Ryan, Assistant Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
The 2019 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition is organized by the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, with curatorial oversight by Georgia Erger, Curatorial Assistant. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Graduate School at MSU and the John and Susan Berding Family Endowment.
Laurén Brady’s exhibition, Remains, long-lost, explores the desire to gather, collect, and dwell on memories through investigating heightened meanings attached to mundane events and objects, which are presented in small installation formats that resemblance altars.
“To leave graduate school with experience exhibiting at a museum — to know the ins and outs of the process, communicating with a curator, preparatory and educational teams, is invaluable,” Brady said. “Working with the Broad, along with my previous exhibition experiences, will give me a lens to frame my professional endeavors as I continue my artistic trajectory.”
Brady’s work was influenced by her two experiences abroad in Italy, first in the summer of 2017 as a part of the MSU Visual Art in Italy Study Abroad and again in the summer of 2018 as an Artist-in-Residence at La Macina di San Cresci in Greve in Chianti, Italy.
Chelsea Markuson’s exhibition confronts individual and collective traumas.
“My thesis project is titled ‘Our Work is Never Done’ because our work toward healing is never done,” Markuson said. “The installation directs to question and consider to reflect on pain of historical traumas and current traumas simultaneously.”
Performed before the Holocaust Memorial in Leipzig, Germany, and the Hannah Administration Building at Michigan State University, Markuson’s actions form a ritualistic process of cleansing, healing, and transformation by using symbolic materials like water, linen, and bowls. The labor of her performance channels memory, loss, and the struggle to heal after unwanted and violent experiences.
Mary Peacock’s exhibition will feature a moving robotic sculpture standing on a carpet surrounded by children’s toys and a wicker basket. The sculpture itself also will include sound and is motion-activated when patrons come near. The exhibition represents the often chaotic and disorderly family life, with Mary’s wicker laundry basket, the children’s toys, and the sounds of her daily routine layered with singing to help convey those feelings.
Peacock had only a rudimentary understanding of wiring and programing before creating the exhibit and received help from the Lansing Makers Network with the programming of her work.
“My time at Michigan State University has been highlighted by an overwhelming amount of support from faculty and staff,” Peacock said. “I have relied on the amazing staff for financial issues, schedule advisement, and even job opportunities within MSU. The advisors, shop technicians, and other support staff always go above and beyond taking a personal interest in students and helping them succeed.”
As an artist and designer, Mehrdad Sedaghat’s research activities work at the intersection of design, society, and technology.
“Though science and technology are growing at a great speed, my work critically and creatively recognizes that such advances are futile if they are not at the service of humankind or have regard for cultural and artistic values,” Sedaghat said.
This work is influenced by Sedaghat’s personal perspective as a recent immigrant to the United States who moved here from Iran to pursue his MFA.
“This living and making in between two different cultures, coupled with my interest in the intersections between art, design, and technology, has led to my discovery of a new hybrid-like sensibility and laid the foundation of my future artistic identity,” Sedaghat said. “From the small amount of time that I have lived and studied in the United States, I’ve learned that despite these political and cultural conflicts between the two countries, people are inevitably close to each other as human beings and are similar in their fundamental desires. For me, these observations go beyond the political relations between Iran and the United States and have deeply shaped my views as an educator, designer, and artist.
“As an educator, my experience of cooperation and dealing with individuals from diverse cultures, orientations, and races, including African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Whites, Middle Eastern, and LGBT students has taught me that human interactions, especially when differences and diversities are present and prominent, creates a unique opportunity for discourse. A discourse that values differences and diversities makes the world a better place to live.”
Andrew Somoskey’s exhibit, Relative Fictions, incorporates the activity of encoding and decoding information that is central to our contemporary existence and his artistic practice.
While the systems referenced within his process center around textual and symbolic language, they also refer to the history of abstraction and the disruptions, complexities, and migrations of meaning that occur when languages and systems interface. Specific texts, graphs, and symbols are used in conjunction with personal notational systems including the idiosyncratic strategies he developed to mitigate his dyslexia and dysgraphia.
“My ever-growing vocabulary of forms and open process often results in immersive installations that blur the line between process and product,” Somoskey said. “Speculation that the installation can be endlessly rearranged challenges the idea of a singular representation. Acknowledging my complicity in this constant process of encoding and decoding, I question the fixedness of language, while simultaneously making more visible the role language and similar structures have in shaping our conception of the world.”
Written by Annie Dubois