UCR 1st and 2nd year MFA Exhibition: Polylogue

Exhibition: May 27 - June 23, 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.

The 2017 University of California Riverside Masters of Fine Arts Exhibition will spotlight the work of seven first and second year graduate students, facilitated by UCR Associate Professor of Art, Yunhee Min. These students work in various media, including: sculpture, painting, photography, video, and installation.

Working towards the culmination of their thesis projects, PuiShuen Chow, Richard Corral, Kellie Flint, Merideth Hillbrand, Joe Leavenworth, Julie Sadowski, and Ji Won each approach their work with a unique voice, conceptual framework, and formal sensibilities. The students are actively engaged in dialogue with an important lineage of artistic practice and the ever-evolving arena of contemporary art.

Artist Statements

  • PuiShuen (Tiffany) Chow: Chow (b. 1987, Hong Kong, China) received her BFA at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, and is currently an MFA student at the University of California Riverside. Chow’s paintings evoke spaces and objects that exist between the mind and the physical world through nuanced systems of looking at the synapses between representation, abstraction, and mark making. Chow engages the potentialities of crossing traditional boundaries separating disparate vernacular and media, to connect eastern and western ways of making.
  • Richard Corral: Part of my focus has always been an interest in the deeper structure of how images are made. Initially, my interests started with wanting to understand different color theories and the wide-ranging ways paint constructs space. Recently, I have been creating paintings that have been based on computer-generated models. I try to make complex scenes that function visually as abstractions, but have all the lighting effects and structural fidelity of real-life depictions. The computer has been helping me to achieve a level of complexity that would be difficult to achieve without it. At times, it is used simply to create and/or dissect forms, create complex patterns, lighting effects, or to visualize and generate complicated physics models to produce explosions that I could never create (in real life) for myself. In large part this interest in the computer stems from a long-time interest I have had in generative art. When it comes to the physical aspect of the work, there is a tension when the work is both image and material, which is something painting has always had. The contradictions of creating space/image from physical substance is of importance to me; essentially, I am creating space out of objects (substance) and objects in space. I’m not always sure what is the order of representation here, but it is both. Also, I have been wondering how does an organic bodily gesture function in the confined yet highly manipulable space of the computer. I’ve been modeling organic gestural marks and sometimes creating gestural marks then importing them into the computer. I’ve been asking myself how can the accuracy of the computer modeling line up or contradict with the direct tactile nature of a physical gesture or how does it conflict or expand on the tangible painted image that I end up with. Sometimes, I go to great lengths to hide what I am doing; other times I am deliberately highlighting the clunkiness of what I am doing. In the modeling phase, there is inherently a “transphysical” aspect where what is created is not bound up with the normal restrictions of gravity, materiality, or scale. This allows me to have endless variations. Oddly contradictory things can happen; complex abstract spaces get created that strangely follow the rules of representation.  For example, light colors don’t simply exist as light colors; I will have them emit light and then they must follow the inverse-square law that real light must follow in reality when filling up a space and bouncing off of objects. Everything seems to flatten out or exist on the same plane, whether it is a photo image that is imported or a gestural mark or a glitch, all these things get leveled-out without any particular order of importance. Maybe I’m creating a model of the world I live in, or maybe not. I am a little hesitant about theorizing too much about that right now, but there is a type of artificial nature that gets created. I am interested in where painting is today, but not in isolation from its past. Whether art is progressing or not I sometimes don’t know, but I do know that it is connected to the past. For me, the computer space seems to have all of my interest right there: the past and future mixed together, the infinite Cartesian space that comes from Renaissance perspective, the uniform scaffolding heights of modernist painted surfaces, the hyperreal, infinite variations with space, time, and form. I have always thought that paint was infinity malleable, and the computer is giving me an infinity malleable model to work from.
  • Kellie Flint: Currently, my practice deals with issues of environmental disaster and how this disaster reveals itself visually. I am interested in the invisible–the destruction we cannot see immediately. My research involves the investigation of NASA aerial photographs of ice shelves in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The opportunity to think at an unprecedented scale exists by way of these global imaging systems. When looking at these images, it is clear that climate change visually manifests itself in an abstract manner and I can extract a paintable language. My process contains a back and forth between painting horizontally on the ground and vertically on the wall and I continue to build a vocabulary of color through experiments with oil paint, bleach, and paper. Time is an imperative element in the work as the chemistry is active and chemical reaction and material transformations are exciting. The organic versus the industrial is at the root of the use of oil paint and bleach. Additionally, the bleach as a pure agent–and how it acts as a material–parallels melting ice. Appearance, disappearance, evaporation, erasure, absence, presence, invisibility. The bleach relates to and is in opposition to both land and water. The work is a response to disaster and simultaneously is disastrous–a parallel to the present human condition. For me, painting is embodied thinking. The paintings are not answers, but formal forums for questioning and research.
  • Merideth Hillbrand: I approach my practice from an interdisciplinary background in writing, video, photography, and performance. Through my research of architectural spaces and non-traditional media, I was led to my current object-based practice. I began to see the space in which art is presented to be synonymous with the work itself. Using sculpture to act directly on the space, I make objects that operate in situations through sculptural arrangements. Drawing comparisons between sculpture and writing, each element of an installation sets up a dialogue through placement, much like words in a sentence. In these constructions, objects, materials, and fabrication methods blend and build relationships, coherently and incoherently. I’m interested in the ways that sculpture relates to language and how both visual and verbal communication involves mis-speaks, correct speech, and non-speech. Color and scale become integral components in examining the dynamics and psychological effects objects hold in the social environment. Material manipulation, forced perspectives, and surrealist juxtapositions relate objects to a body that is repeatedly implied but consistently absent. I aim to challenge our understanding of everyday objects by exposing the uncanny nature of their idiosyncrasies. These slight breaks from established forms seek to mimic my understanding and relation to the contemporary world. Aesthetic flaws and inconsistencies signal both the handcrafted nature and an evidence of time on the object. Finding moments of separation and contingency through the life of an object, the melding of form and experience become a way of questioning functionality, creating a movement in the work that relates to life outside of an art context. My sculptural explorations are ways of examining a fluidity with objects, people, and environments.
  • Joe Leavenworth: To identify as a photographer in 2017 is to be at war with ubiquity. Photography springs from my desire to engage. Curiosity fosters the impulse to seek-out, inquire, observe, and collect. The photographic pursuit generates possibility, just as it quietly observes. Patience, empathy, conversation, and investment each inform the process. Whether the subject be a stranger met on the street, the inverse of a landscape found on a weathered façade, or pulled from an archive, the motivation is to slow down and extend the process of inquiry and observation. I am interested in complicating photography’s relationship with documentary and fiction. Narrative is of interest however, in favor of the open-ended. I seek to offer a ground for contemplation. Photographs containing attributes both descriptive yet ambiguous. I am interested in scratching below the surface of the familiar, influenced by imagination, to consider aspirations and question expectations. The photograph is a limitation, and what exists beyond the frame equally informs the interior. Temporally, the photograph perpetually travels away from the moment of inception. As memory infects, photographs further accrue layers of distance, complexity, and meaning, generating new lives in circulation of the archive, sequence of a book, gallery wall, or digital space. We desire meaning, and to make photographs is to begin to approximate and identify potential. It is in this muddle I begin to extract and discover. Leavenworth (b. 1985) lives and works in Los Angeles.  He will receive his MFA from UC Riverside in 2018.
  • Julie Sadowski: Sadowski (b.1987) is a Polish-American artist living and working in Los Angeles. She received a BFA in Photography from San Francisco Art Institute in 2014 and is currently working on her MFA at UC Riverside. Her work incorporates photography, video, text, and installation. She often uses materials sourced from the internet and other archives, alongside photographs and videos taken by her. In her practice, she is fascinated with images’ ability to create a sense of nostalgia and generate new modes of association. In her work, she continuously attempts to question our desire to make sense out of the world through language and its relationship to material objects that surround us. She is also concerned with topics such as image production and dissemination, technology, and information overload.
  • Ji Won: Constructed inevitably through constant transformative processes from relationships with entities around me, perspectives are the representations of myself, the source of all of my actions, and the only thing that I am able to utter and define. In those perspectives, the shared contexts, a priori opinions, generational ethos, and Otherness of a society are all included. It is through those complex perspectives that I form the Other and groups, and attempt to find my elemental validity from reciprocal relationships and agreements. A society or an individual, however, may conflict with that of another entity or place, or be distorted in its meaning or purpose by a conflicting framework. What such cases may serve to show is that a perspective which had been considered as an individual and/or societal representation is not structurally fixed, but is in fact inconsistent and ephemeral: it is charged or transformed, depending on its interpretation. As a perspective in the end is individual and changeable, there perhaps is none to be precisely defined or criticized. For me, there are only individual interpretations, questions, and claims. While the answer for such problems are possibly limited to the realm of an individual or a society, what is to be considered are questions and dialogues toward the works produced in the process. That is, with the lack of an objective perspective or a clear interpretation—or, an ontological certainty of which experiments and works in regards to questioning and interpreting through the most individual perspectives may be the most authentic and valuable activity of all.

Related Exhibition Programming

Gallery Talk and Tour with the UCR MFA Artists, Saturday, June 3, 2017, 2 p.m., Free with paid admission or membership

Join the UCR MFA artists as they give a short talk and tour of their group show.