Alex Ebstein on MICA’s Master of Art in Teaching Exhibition

The students in MICA’s Master’s of Art in Teaching presented their individual studio practices earlier this month in the MAT Thesis exhibition. A fifth year masters program, students matriculate through the four year undergraduate concentration in teaching and studio, continuing their education with an intensive fifth year of studio practice, theory and teaching.

In their exhibition, the twenty-three students presented a wide variety of works across subjects and media. Thematic threads ran along the lines of personal histories, personal symbology, communication and technology.

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Bree Berry explores the idea of female beauty standards as perpetuated by media and society. She presents images of roses and scissors, representing idealized feminine beauty through the rose and a sense of rebellion through the scissors. Berry hopes that through an eschewing of these narrow standards a focus on deeper issues can be reached.

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​In a series of embroidered illustrations, Brittney Frei looks at the theme of motherhood. Using a traditionally feminine medium, Frei draws confidently with the floss in colorful line work against the stark white of the background. Embellished with flowers and decorative elements, each is a charming vignette of a domestic, familial scene.

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In a stark, elegant sculpture entitled “This Says More About You Than Me,” Eunice Kwon uses seashells and sand to articulate difficult aspects of her relationship with her mother. In her artists statement, Kwon traces her mother’s absence through her childhood due to her work schedule, and its current tenuous nature due to Alzheimer’s disease. The rows of shells elevated above the sand are a meditation on and an attempt to bring order to a difficult personal narrative.

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In another exploration of self, Delainey Bernier presents a stunning series of photos documenting the place of her childhood. Bernier spent a number of months revisiting and documenting Michigan and gathering stories from growing up. Through this return, Bernier acknowledges the impact of a small town on the kind of artist and person she is today.

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​Erin Lehrmann’s abstract paintings, part of a series the artist calls “Constructs” are bright, maximal compositions with a lot of movement. While they appear architectural, their inspiration comes from the artist’s daily life, layered on the canvas like the experiences of the day.

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In one of the most involved and interactive installations, artist Sarah Miller deconstructs the social media platform Instagram. Miller presents a large, square formatted backdrop of a nature scene implying the artifice of Instagram and the active roll users play in fabricating a persona through the platform. Along the adjacent wall, Miller also hung a series of paper tags with one of five different photos on it, each reproduction of the photo standing for a “like” that it received in the app from another user. This visual comparison also seems like an ideal opportunity and medium to explore hashtags and their impact on visibility within Instagram.

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​Alana Ferguson included paintings and the sculptural prop from her photo series blobs as humans. The large, awkward teal blob loomed uncertainly in the front gallery, but looks much more at home in its intended environments. Ferguson’s mixed-media blobs are undeniably anthropomorphic, humorous and a bizarre presence.
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Full list of exhibiting MAT students: Matthew Adelbert, Delainey Bernier, Brianna Berry, Sarah Bushin, David Deluty, Alana Ferguson, Brittney Frei, Jenna Gray, Nathaniel Holland, Sharon Kusiak, Eunice Kwon, Erin Lehrmann, Natovian McLeod, Katie Miles, Naomi Miller, Sarah Miller, Sophie Miller, Ji Won Song, Richelle Vargas, Diana Vento, Katie Waterworth, and Rachel Williams.unnamed-17

​The MAT exhibition was on view in the Sheila and Richard Riggs Galleries from February 26th – March 13, 2016.

MICA Grad Show recaps are produced in partnership with MICA Graduate Studies.

Author and photographer Alex Ebstein is a Baltimore-based artist, curator, and professor.