The latest exhibition at the Yale School of Art will give outgoing students a final chance to display the fruits of their labors to the public.
The show, entitled “2,015 But Who’s Counting: Yale MFA Painting/Printmaking Thesis Exhibition” will showcase the works of the 21 second-year students in the department at the school’s Green Hall Gallery on Chapel Street. The show will take place in two parts as students in the department have been divided into two groups. The first part of the exhibition will open this Saturday.
The exhibition is the first of several departments’ thesis shows that will take place this semester. Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking Rochelle Feinstein said that the timing of the exhibition allows students to pursue new projects later in the semester after receiving critiques from a panel of faculty and artists.
“[The students] like being first in the spring and get a few months to work and get feedback and concentration in studio before they go out into the real world,” Feinstein said.
Students and faculty members interviewed noted that while all of the featured works belong to the same department, they encompass a wide variety of styles. The group shows often do not have a singular motif and are instead representations of individuals, said Feinstein.
Henry Chapman ART ’15, who has contributed five paintings and several wooden furniture displays to the show, said his works deal with themes of reconciliation, collaboration and negotiation. He noted that he thinks the themes are especially relevant to this show, as he is sharing his portion of the exhibition space with another student.
“We aren’t trying to make our [exhibits] similar, but we aren’t trying to divide the space either,” he said. “The wooden stands will hold one of my paintings back to back with one of his.”
Patrick Groth ART ’15 said his paintings contain a substantial amount of historical content and appropriation from historical source books from as early as 15th-century Europe, including the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is an account of human history as told by the Bible.
Feinstein explained that the show is divided into two groups largely for spatial reasons, as the Hall cannot adequately fit all the work of all 21 students at once. The students select their own groups in the fall based on what they think their work will look like and how much space they will need.
In addition to forming the groups, students are in charge of dividing gallery space amongst each other. Chapman noted that he was surprised that the students in his year were easily able to negotiate space distribution, adding that the process involved a large level of diplomacy and compromise.
Though the displays go on for over a week, the actual panel critique is a one-day process. Composed of seven critics, the panel includes both faculty and artists who are completely unfamiliar with the students’ work.
The panel evaluates the entire group’s work, with each individual evaluation taking approximately 40 minutes. The discussions are open to the public, though only students and faculty are allowed to speak. The first panel will be held on Feb. 5. Feinstein said she thinks the small number of students in each exhibition allows for more intense and concentrated dialogue between students and panelists.
“The critique to my recollection never sounds instructional,” Feinstein said. “It’s really a conversation.”
Students and faculty members said that though the thesis show does display some of the students’ finest works, it is hardly a culmination of their efforts. The event serves as a point for improvement and inspiration for students, who can use the feedback to better their portfolios and prepare for their final reviews, which will take place at the end of the semester.
Associate Dean of the School of Art Samuel Messer said the thesis provides students the opportunity to “pull together all the ideas they thought about in the last few years.” He added that the thesis show is not an end, but rather a pause in the semester for students, many of whom will create new pieces for their final reviews.
“The thesis is another place to test and experiment with how we put ourselves out there,” Chapman said. “We still make more work after. It’s not like I’ve done my time.”
The second part of the exhibition will open on Feb. 13 and will run through Feb. 25.