Just like the title, “2,015 But Who’s Counting?” the Yale MFA Thesis Exhibition was playful and biting. On my way to the Yale School of Art, I was lucky enough to catch up with this kid I know, Will. Will was just, like, walking around and I convinced him to come check out art for a little bit. As we entered 1156 Chapel Street, we realized we actually had a lot of interesting things to say about the projects inside.
“Cool,” was one of the first things I said. The first room of the exhibition featured a few paintings that were actually much more than just “cool.” Vibrant colors and abstract shapes splashed across the wall. One painting depicted a tan figure with a hand covering its mouth in one corner, overshadowed by one large, abstract section in tan. This use of abstract shape to evoke a feeling of loneliness, emphasized by blue surrounding the small figure, was intriguing and beautiful.
“Is that an arm?” Will said.
Entering the next room of the exhibition, we were amazed to find that the artists had incorporated sculpture into their pieces, allowing the art to break into the physical space of the venue and share it with us. One such piece contained a print on the wall depicting a demolished room. The demolition poured from the wall into the room in the form of broken glass and crumpled sketches.
“That’s the stuff from the picture,” I said.
Then we walked around more.
“I like this one,” Will said.
Will was referring to the work of Camille Hoffman which hung at the end of the room. We landed here at the end of the exhibition and just stared. It was beautiful, playful and plastic. Hoffman creates her pieces using printed plastic. The one we found ourselves in front of was a scenic mountain vista made from cut-outs of golf courses. Aside from just being beautiful, the piece had a joking punchiness that made it unlike art I had previously seen. The use of the golf courses gave it a surrealist tone and created a space in which disparate elements were forced to interact with one another.
“My favorite part is the stickers,” I said.
It’s true. I still think that even though it’s been a couple hours since I saw it. The top of the work had a few little, glittery stickers on it. It gave the art an attitude that echoed the title of the exhibition. But it was not without depth. Hanging next to the painting was a large, plastic, holiday-themed tablecloth that stretched about 30 feet. The cloth was made of colorful woven strips. This is a piece Hoffman has exhibited all over the world titled “In the future, they kept alive what ancestral rites they could remember.” The interwoven vibrant strips evoked a sense of family, togetherness, and joined cultures that I found quite beautiful.
“Haha,” Will said.
That was after I had made a joke. After perusing this exhibition with Will on a picturesque winter afternoon, I felt like I had seen something special. It was art that incorporated the sarcastic humor of our generation without losing out on beauty. By mixing print with paint, one dimensional with three dimensional, and sophistication with attitude, the Yale MFA Thesis Exhibition surprised and delighted me. The exhibition runs through February 25 and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. I definitely recommend finding someone on the street (I admit it works best with someone named Will) to share insights with as you peruse the work of some clever and inventive Yalies.
“Fun,” Will said.