University of Washington MFA Exhibition 2009
Last Friday night, I attended the public opening of the 2009 MFA exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery. As I mentioned earlier on this blog, I have mixed emotions about my alma mater, but it was good to see what the new crop has been up to. My initial impression was that the scale and scope of the projects was much larger than previous years. Fewer MFA candidates meant more space for each artist, with two artists even getting their own rooms, including Arun Sharma, whose illuminated casket filled with live ants demonstrates how the “transference of energy from death makes room for and sustains new life.”
Notable feats of both scale and craft included the paintings of Alice Case, Anne Petty and Hugo Shi, as well as the sculpture of George Rodriguez, whose much-larger-than-life ceramic mariachi band was a show-stopper in a literal sense: its densely packed bodies form a Richard Serra-esque barrier that force viewers to approach its front side from an uncomfortably close range. More subtle in execution but no less impressively rendered are the pastel drawings of Haley Farthing, whose woody undulations are an absolute joy at close range, providing a compelling counterpoint to Ben Waterman’s poetic installation of ashes and clay.
One friend that came to the Henry with us, an artist and college professor from the greater Bay Area, said that he thought this was the best MFA exhibition he’s ever seen. For my part, I was generally impressed with the level of craft and look forward to seeing good things from many of these artists in the future.
The 2009 MFA show will be installed in the North Galleries at the Henry through June 21. The artists represented are George Rodriguez, Arun Sharma, Ben Waterman, Bo Young Choi, Alice Case, Haley Farthing, Bob Gardner, Anne Petty, Hugo Shi, Marie-Claire Bozant, Erin Elyse Burns, and Laurel Schultz.
UPDATE: There is now a more indepth post about this show, including a great selection of images, on Joey Veltkamp’s Best Of.