Six MFA in Visual Studies students are celebrating the accomplishments of their work and the completion of their studies with the MFA Showcase Exhibition. The exhibition is on view in Springfield Art Museum’s Weisel and Kelly Galleries May 6–28, with an opening reception May 5 from 5:30–7:00 p.m.
Much of the work in the showcase exhibition represents individual creative evolution and themes that are deeply personal to each artist. The exhibition features the work of the following MFA graduates: Dana Bridges, Rick Briggenhorst, Meidi Karampour, Teddy Osei, Shauna Smith, and Jean Paul Vivas.
A few MFA grads share more about their final thesis projects and reflect on their experience in the Visual Studies program below:
Through the manipulation of clay, Dana Bridges’ thesis explores interpersonal, intrapersonal, and communal conflict. “I do not intend my work to be an expression of conflict, but a visualization of the connection and care I hope for. The work I produce is evidence of my search for healing and hope in my life—to grow as an individual through remaining open to others, integrating new life experiences, and responding to conflict, failure, imperfections, or mistakes with acceptance and an attitude of play,” Dana adds.
“My most valued experiences while in the program were while teaching 3D Foundations, Art in Context, and Ceramics I, and advising undergrads in the Graphic Design program. It is so rewarding to make connections with students over the joy of appreciating and making art. I grew a lot both personally and professionally through the experience,” Dana shares. Dana’s post-graduation goals include continuing her ceramics practice and selling her work both locally and online, as well continuing her teaching career with a summer ceramics class at Middle School Fine Arts Academy with Springfield Public Schools.
Rick Briggenhorst’s thesis work, a part from you, is a multi-sensory installation inspired by post-life existence in a digital age. “a part from you is a way to sustain hope—a hope that, in some way, your physicality (its longing, its tenderness) can revel in the ephemeral traces of a loved one again. There is no coincidence that in healing we find new meanings in the world around us. We seek those moments that were always a part of us, but now mundane experiences become enhanced with our longing,” Rick shares.
As graduation approaches, Rick is keeping an optimistic mindset for future opportunities and creating outside of school, “I’ve learned to trust myself and to follow the gentle traces that lead to new ways of making. After school, I’d love to begin an education career, but I’m excited for the unknown-ness. The time to produce more work and explore new possibilities is something I’m looking to with hopeful eyes.”
Shauna Smith’s thesis exhibition, Continuing, centers on the healing process while grieving the loss of loved one, represented through handmade paper works. As Shauna’s artist statement explains, each detail of these works is symbolic of the various aspects to her healing,
“Embedded into these paper pieces are images of my healing. In circles, I meditate on wholeness and continuation. In overlapping lines, I highlight the interconnection that weaves between every aspect of life. In light, I bring forth hope. In natural material, I channel my deep appreciation and celebration of the world around me. In quiet visuals, I invite a slow and introspective viewing experience. In papermaking, I remember. I remember that I am a maker, and in making I find healing. I came to creating this work broken, and through all these remembrances, I stitch myself together.”
Shauna reflects on her time in the program with appreciation for the knowledge, experiences, and relationships gained while a MFA student, “The amalgamation of the entire MFA experience has enabled me to imagine what my future can look like and provided the tools, knowledge, and discipline needed to make what I am imagining a reality. Getting the opportunity to co-curate an exhibition with Jodi McCoy and learn directly from her curating practices remains a significant experience of mine. I have also formed some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever known throughout these three years. I truly admire all the professors who are developing this program and the members of my cohort who made the stressful times joyful.”
Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 E Brookside Dr, Springfield, MO 65807. For questions about the event, call the Department of Art and Design office, 417-837-2330.