For the first time in its history, the UNC art department will be displaying the theses of all of its Masters of Fine Arts students at one exhibition titled "Under the Rug," taking place at the Durham Fruit Company from March 22 to April 7. The exhibition will showcase the unique art of nine MFA students whose artistic talents have culminated into the work they will be displaying.
This exhibition is a step in a different direction for UNC’s art department, as all MFA theses were previously displayed individually at the Hanes Art Museum. The primary organizers of the event, both senior MFA students, said organizing this new event and style of displaying theses has been a rewarding challenge.
“There’s been a lot of logistical challenges that we’ve had to work through and cooperate with each other, and also coordinate with the Fruit because we’ve never done anything like this before. So, it’s kind of a blank space,” Peter Hoffman, one of the primary organizers, said “... It’s kind of envisioning a whole show as opposed to just your artwork that you’re working on.”
The exhibition will include a variety of different artwork displays including photography, paintings, installations, sculptures, video and performance art. Chieko Murasugi, another primary organizer of the event, said she hopes the wide variety of art will provide a diverse look into the talents within UNC’s MFA program.
“There are nine students, we work very differently from one another, we have very different backgrounds, and so the art will be very diverse as well as very exciting,” Murasugi said.
Hoffman will be displaying a series of photographs and digital collages that show altered North Carolina landscapes, while Murasugi will be displaying 10 abstract paintings of her imaginings of her Samurai ancestors. Another MFA student, John DeKemper, will display his unique and pop-culture referencing self-portraits.
“I will be displaying eight-foot paintings. They are self-portraits of myself as woman celebrities, stars, characters,” DeKemper said. “(These include) Britney Spears, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy from the ‘97 movie 'Batman and Robin' directed by Joel Schumacher, and then Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley from 'Alien.'”
Hoffman, Murasugi and DeKemper are excited to see their artistic visions, efforts, and talents come to fruition with the MFA degree. Murasugi believes that an MFA degree will add legitimacy and credibility to her artistic efforts.
“Making art is what I love to do, and in order to create work that is relevant in contemporary society, I felt that I needed to pursue an MFA,” Murasugi said.
DeKemper felt that the UNC MFA program was the best way to sharpen his talents to gain a better perspective on multiple aspects of art and art criticism.
“A huge part of it was wanting to hone what my work was about, what I’m doing. I always loved drawing and painting, and I got my BFA in animation. I had a lot of ideas, but I didn’t have a strong theoretical, critical lens,” DeKemper said.
Hoffman previously worked as a freelance photographer for eight years before deciding to come back to school to pursue an MFA. His decision to go back to school was primarily based on his desire to research how photography can be used to channel artistic ability and creativity rather than for business purposes.
“I really wanted to go back to school just to spend time researching the arts and trying to figure out new ways to make work that communicated in a new way, to be able to experiment,” Hoffman said. “Basically, to take a break from the working world.”
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