June 1, 2018
A forest scene of a slumbering wizard. A poem occupying a wall in hand-cut lettering. A design for environmental advocacy. A thin wooden circle standing on end trailing netting like a veil. A faux “machine” filled with paper airplanes.
Art and design can amaze, inform, entertain, challenge or even gently baffle the viewer — and the annual thesis exhibition for Master of Fine Arts and Master of Design at the Henry Art Gallery reliably offers a little of each.
More: A dark gallery with illuminated, cathedral-like arches. An “internet-of-things” design protocol for nonserious home use. Augmented reality for making digital models. A dark and stormy work in oil. Big sculptures of inner feelings expressed. A grouping of clothes and other items riffing on the Henry’s own employee handbook.
The full name is the School of Art + Art History + Design’s Master of Fine Arts and Master of Design Thesis Exhibition, but it goes by 2018 MFA + MDes for short. Both are two-year programs, and these works represent the last step in the UW journey for these artists and designers.
The MFA candidates for 2018 are David C. Burr, Nate Clark, Ian Cooper, Daniel Hewat, Alex Kang, Erin H. Meyer, Christian Kōun Alborz Oldham, Katie Schroeder and Caitlyn Wilson. The Master of Design candidates are Aubree Ball, Joe Costello, Emma Teal Laukitis and Christopher Seeds.
This is the 60th year for the exhibition, as Jamie Walker, director of the art school, told those gathered for an early press preview. “Watching it through the decades has been pretty amazing,” he said. “All of the movements, trends, styles, processes in the world of contemporary art and design that have transpired during that time period.”
And yet each year’s show is very personal for those showing their work.
“It’s one of those moments in life as an artist or designer that really sticks with you” he said, when the work, long pondered in private, “suddenly becomes very, very public.”
The students got advice and assistance in mounting their pieces from Jes Gettler, the museum’s exhibit designer and lead preparator, who said the exhibit process starts as early as December of the preceding year, and is among her favorites.
Walker added that though these graduating student artists and designers may have had doubts along the way — a normal part of the process — they “are now considered professionals.”
The 2018 MFA + MDes Thesis Exhibition will be on display through June 24 at the Henry.
The Henry Art Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 general, $6 for seniors and free to UW students, staff and faculty. And it’s free to all on Sundays. For more information, visit https://henryart.org/.