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Fine arts students present work in solo exhibitions

George Jenne, MFA Exhibtion "Your Turn to Burn."
George Jenne, MFA Exhibtion "Your Turn to Burn."

For the first time, the University’s graduating Master of Fine Arts students will present their work in solo exhibitions — an eight-week series titled “Your Turn to Burn.”

George Jenne’s exhibit, “Spooky Understands,” is first in the lineup and opens today.

The week-long exhibitions, in the John and June Allcott Gallery in Hanes Art Center, function as the students’ final thesis statements.

A new exhibition will be on display weekly through mid-April.

“It’ll be like one of those home transformation shows where one day it looks one way, and the next it’s completely transformed,” said Roxana Perez-Mendez, director of the gallery and Jenne’s adviser.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind strain on all of us.”

The students will also display work in the traditional Ackland group exhibition, which had before functioned as the master’s students’ final project, said art professor Cary Levine.

“Spooky Understands” focuses on a written narrative, performed by Jenne in two video installments.
“The show is different in that he is making the script a character in the work,” Perez-Mendez said.

In one video, a young guardian angel becomes obsessed with her subject, a depraved older man. In the other, the same male character delivers a deranged soliloquy to his lover.

“He lays out his entire life in a monologue,” Jenne said.

While Jenne said film is his primary medium, the exhibit also incorporates sculpture.

One such sculpture is a giant brown carpet hanging on the wall. It is covered in junk — bubble wrap, toy soldiers, stray pieces of foam — which Jenne glued down exactly as they were.

Jenne said “Spooky Understands” is about obsession, and the videos reflect the fact that the creative process is a way to act out artists’ pathologies.

“In these stories, people kind of obsess over their existence — the minute and the cosmic at the same time,” Jenne said.

“That plays into the idea of obsession. You think you’re this close to getting what you want or figuring things out or discovering something, and it never quite happens. That’s the creative process.”

Jenne said he wants the audience to leave having listened to a great story.

“There are bigger ideas going on in the work, but for me, this is about narrative.”

Despite the ominous-sounding title, which came out of a group seminar collaboration, Jenne said, there is no overarching theme for the “Your Turn to Burn” series.

“In the context of the show, we’re all in this program, and you get put up on the chopping block and people scrutinize the hell out of you,” he said.

“You come out the other end unscathed, or you come out with cuts and bruises.”

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