MFA Thesis Exhibition spotlights students' unique art

Nyssa Zinn installs her collage panoramic piece for the Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery on campus, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress
Nyssa Zinn installs her collage panoramic piece for the Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery on campus, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress

The professor sits in front of his art students and discusses the status of their upcoming exhibition. As soon as he dismisses them from their meeting they disperse into sections of the room. There are students placing frames of large photographs on a wall, a student standing on wood chips tinkering with a projector, students moving a ladder back and forth and other students going in every which direction with a task in mind.

The annual Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition is still a work in progress, but students hope to present some memorable, innovative modern artwork from a few of the Bay Area’s up-and-coming artists.

Every year the SF State Fine Arts Gallery showcases third year master of fine arts student’s final projects in the MFA Thesis Exhibition. This year, eight students will display their work, premiering April 27. The exhibition will include contemporary photography, sculpture, painting, printmaking and other new creative practices.

Unlike most exhibitions that focus on a singular theme, the MFA Thesis Exhibition gives students the chance to showcase their specific style of art and display their new, contemporary artistic works.

“All of these people in the graduate program developed their body of work by completely original thinking on their part,” Fine Arts Gallery Director Mark Johnson said. “They were given feedback by professors on how to make that thesis stronger, or present it in a different way that hopefully shows the work off as strongly as possible.”

The artists have been working on these contemporary pieces for the past six months. The exhibition features artists including photographer Rebecca M. Andrews showcasing her collection of photographs entitled “105 W. 5th St.,” and Nyssa Zinn who will display a massive collage inspired by a surfer’s spiritual and physical relationship to waves.

MFA student Elia Vargas, a 28-year-old conceptual and information art student will be presenting an original multi-component piece called “System Ritual.” Once complete, visitors will be able to step into the wilderness-inspired room filled with stones, woodchips and a water fixture that displays projected images of downtown San Francisco.

“People can come inside and explore and once you’re in, you’re embedded into the piece,” Vargas said. “You get to change the piece based off of the way you behave inside.”

Printmaking MFA student Laurel Prieto has moved from her usual printmaking style to present a shrine-like installation she entitled “Maybe We Are Safe Here.” Prieto has been working on this installation for nearly a year and used a variety of mediums including screen print, cut paper, hand stitched fabric, pine tables, nails, ink, wall painting and thread.

“I was inspired by spaces and objects such as ossuaries, reclining effigies, post-modern portraits and Victorian hair jewelry for their ability to bring us closer to someone or some knowledge that is lost or at a distance, and their power to reprioritize our perspective on the interpersonal relationships of daily life,” Prieto said.

The art department encourages people to support this particular exhibition and recognize the hard work students have put into to complete their MFA thesis works.

“It’s the most professional exhibition of our student work on the campus. You get to see students right before they launch professional careers as artists,” Johnson said. “Hopefully students will see it and ask themselves, ‘Hey can I do something that strong?’ and are inspired to do something.”

The Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition opens Saturday April 27 at 1 to 3 p.m. in the Fine Arts Gallery and is open until Saturday May 25.