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MFA Showcase shows a variety of student artwork

Citizenship in el Cielo by Sarah WestrupCeramics, painting, fashion and photography are just some of the modes of art that will be featured in the College of Visual Arts and Design MFA Showcase.

Seven MFA students will have their work displayed in the free exhibition from May 21 to July 25 in both the UNT Art Gallery and UNT ArtSpace Dallas.

The two galleries will simultaneously exhibit a total of about 35 pieces of art from the students in order to share their talent and art works with the Denton and Dallas communities.

Students featured in the showcase include:

The MFA Showcase began in 2008 and has been an annual occurrence ever since. Victoria DeCuir, assistant director of galleries at UNT, said the showcase allows students to prepare for exhibiting their work outside of school.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn how to interact with curators, how to receive them into a studio and how to take suggestions and criticisms,” DeCuir said. “It helps to teach them how to move from an educational environment to a professional one.”

The selection process requires students to invite DeCuir and Tracee Robertson, director of galleries at UNT, into their studios to discuss and view their work. DeCuir said she and Robertson have very different approaches to selecting who will be featured in the showcase, but they are not tied down to strict parameters.

“The process becomes very organic,” DeCuir said. “However, we do try to be equitable and include artwork from every discipline. It’s challenging because so much good work is being made here at the graduate level.”

Sarah Westrup, a second year MFA student with a concentration in fiber art, is one of the students chosen for the showcase. She said she hopes her work brings some attention to the discipline of fiber art, which is an art form that utilizes the materials and techniques of textiles and manual labor for practices like embroidery and basket weaving.

“The fibers department is very unique in terms of the medium that we use,” Westrup said. “Hopefully the exhibit will be impactful. I’ve had people email me before and say that they’ve never seen fiber art, but that it really resonated with them and now they want to change their major.”

Westrup’s work focuses on the Mexican-American experience. Her featured work in the exhibition centers on the concept of healing.

“I’ve been looking at healing and the objects of healing found on the Mexican-American border,” said Westrup. “So, you’ll see a lot of cactus, eggs and aloe vera in my work. These are all substances with their own specific healing or nourishing qualities.”

While she hopes her work will convey a message to viewers, Westrup said she’s also looking forward to exhibiting her work with other MFA students at UNT.

“I think the exhibition is important because I will be represented with my peers,” Westrup said. “It kind of says something about the quality of your work.”

This representation is one of the aims of professional artists, according to DeCuir.

“That the College of Visual Arts and Design allows and encourages us to provide a venue for that is really special,” DeCuir said. “Not every university or college of art has venues to show [students’] work in a professional environment.”

- Caleb Downs, student assistant, News Promotions

Posted on: Mon 18 May 2015

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