MFA Show: “Works in Progress”
“Works in Progress” MFA Show, showcasing the artwork of 5 graduate students, opened in the UAF Art Gallery this past Tuesday, on Sept. 27th. The students featured in the 2016-2017 show — Jenny Chamberlain, Ellamarie Quimby, Max Bartsch, Alyssa Enriquez and Sharon Hollensbe — are working toward their masters of fine arts. “Works in Progress” is a small sample of the work these students make. Between the five of them there are a variety of mediums represented from painting to photography to ceramics.
“This semester is one of the most cohesive and self-motivated groups of MFAs that we have had in recent years,” Zoë Jones, professor of art history said. “They all are relying on each other and learning from each other in a way that will ultimately make their thesis exhibitions much stronger.”
The show will be up in the gallery through Oct. 14. The UAF gallery hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Different shows in the UAF Gallery can be expected roughly every 2 weeks throughout the semester.
The four photographs Quimby has hanging in the gallery are a preview of her thesis work, which she will show next spring.
“The work documents my mother’s diagnosis and experience with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, sometimes called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” Quimby said.
Quimby is a photography student from Annandale, VA, who earned her undergraduate degree in Fine Art Photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. She then moved on to receive her masters of teaching with an emphasis in art education. Quimby chose UAF to pursue her second master’s degree because the UAF program has a heavy emphasis on photojournalism. Her undergraduate degree in fine art photography focused much more on conceptual and high-art methodologies and she was interested in expanding her photojournalist education. Additionally she wanted to live in a place that was very different than her home.
Her goal in attaining a second master’s degree is to qualify to teach studio art and photography at the university level. After graduation she plans to apply to teaching jobs at boarding schools and museums on the east coast.
Photography is important to Quimby because it allows her to digest and understand the world around her.
“Processing things from behind the screen of a camera lens allows for both physical and emotional space between me and whatever is happening in front of me,” Quimby said.
The mugs, bowls and pitchers in the gallery are some of Chamberlain’s older work. She considers this work a stepping stone for the work she is creating now. She takes her inspiration from the ocean and her current pieces focus more on movement and texture.
“I love to leave traces of my fingerprints or hand marks on each pot,” Chamberlain said. “Small, hidden details and textures that hint at what inspires me the most- Coastal Alaska.”
Chamberlain is a MFA graduate student in ceramics with a minor in photography. She is originally from Thiensville, WI and earned her undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management at the University of Montana. Chamberlain first came in Alaska in 2009 for a seasonal position with the U.S. Forest Service as a Wilderness Kayak Ranger out of Juneau. She was accepted in the Resilience and Adaptation Program at UAF but halfway into her first year of graduate school she quickly realized that she wanted to be a potter and applied to the MFA program.
Chamberlain’s ultimate goal is to be a studio potter and work out of her own studio. She and her husband plan to stay in Alaska after she graduates and build their home together on the coast. In her spare time she enjoys being outside and walking on the beach collecting treasures and taking photographs.
“Alaska has become not only my home but a prominent source of inspiration for my work and my lifestyle,” Chamberlain said.
The 8-foot large scale painting titled “Digestive Throng, those that Breathe” and the five canvas prints hanging in the gallery are all pieces Bartsch started and completed over the past couple of weeks since his arrival at UAF. Much of his work revolves around organic forms and symbols. He is drawn to bulbous, round shapes and often develops abstracted representations of organs, specifically the pancreas and stomach.
Bartsch is a MFA painting and printmaking graduate student from Purdys, NY. He identifies mostly as a painter but also works in printmaking, performance and installation. Bartsch comes from a family of artists and teachers. He received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. Bartsch knew he wanted to attend a university in the north for his graduate degree considering he finds that he works best in the winter and at night and was looking to try a radical change in his environment and see how it affected his aesthetic.
In his spare time, Bartsch collaborates with friends to put together a podcast on iTunes called “The Crit Crew.”
“We talk about video games and how they pertain to art,” Bartsch said. “I like the social experience of recording with people. Its nice to document a conversation.”
Bartsch enjoys collaboration in all faucets. During his undergrad he worked with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band for their “Shaken Not Stirred” concert featuring James Bond music with a contemporary twist. Bartsch performed as an action painter with a full scale orchestra, for a two hour performance with a full assembly of several hundred people. His completed painting was then raffled off and the monies went to CCM scholarships.
“I have a necessity to work,” Bartsch said. “I have a habitual need to keep making things. I relate it to the core of human creativity since I don’t necessarily know why I like to make things constantly- that whole dynamic is kind of interesting.”