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Opening reception: Layer Cake: First-year MFA Exhibition

Thursday, February 6, 2020 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Coulter Art Gallery


The Department of Art and Art History presents Layer Cake, an exhibition of works by five first-year MFA students in art practice: Amy Elkins, Gabriella Grill, Joshua Moreno, Miguel Novelo, and Gregory Rick.

This is a very accomplished and diverse group in terms of their media and content, including drawing, digital art, painting, video, installation, and sculpture. Their work projects various social and cultural issues relevant to the artists and to all of us as well. These artists have developed complex concepts that translate very well into thoughtful artworks that merge in highly engaging productions. We thank the artists for their contributions and I invite you to read their personal statements and to take a good look at each individual creation. Have a joyful and thought-provoking experience during your visit to this exhibition. –Enrique Chagoya, professor of art practice

Amy Elkins is a visual artist whose work investigates the psychological and sociological impacts of mass incarceration in America.  In her latest work, she utilizes an uncountable amount of catalog images of prison uniforms from “America’s leading detention supplier” among other materials to examine the dizzying effects of binge incarceration in a nation that on any given day holds roughly 2.3 million people behind bars.

Creating work with reused and recycled articles of clothing, jewelry, and household items as material, Gabriella Grill draws attention to the discarded. These discarded items and their embodied histories become symbols and metaphors for human aging and the cycle of life. Grill’s work considers topics including fast fashion and consumerism, as well as the conservation of personal history and material culture. 

Joshua Moreno’s work examines the overlapping relationship between the natural and man-made environment and highlights patterns and systems of efficiency that exist within them. Using sculpture, installation, and drawing, Moreno generates compositions that reflect notions of cause and effect, disorder and order, ephemerality, and chance. 

Miguel Novelo currently researches tangible and present moving image experiences. His work explores language, translations, and cosmic storytelling. Novelo creates experiences for the viewer that showcase a cooperative relationship between the “spectator” and “the art." To see and be seen. Novelo depicts the role of viewership and media by using characters and environments that play with freedom and spontaneity, creating relatable and universal points of view. His latest work focuses on innovative ways to attain engagement, which would develop empathetic channels between the self and the other.

Gregory Rick: My father went to prison when I was seven for attempted murder. Although losing my dad was rough, he left me books on history and art. Art was a bastion of light after I returned from Iraq, and helped me deal with the externalities of war. I tell stories that reflect my story but are not totally personal and are still in dialogue with the wider world. I explore the internal through the external and vice versa. Where myth gives voice to the underbelly, the lumpen in tandem with displaying the familiar and grandiose. My work tethers together seemingly opposing ideas as I teether between the personal, the historical, and the political.

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