Marginalia, Graduate Blog

InterArts Thesis Exhibition: A Sneak Peek

Mike St. John

The MFA Exhibition for Interdisciplinary Arts opens April 20th at the B&P Gallery on 1104 South Wabash. It has been a long time coming for the twelve grads from Media and Book & Paper–three years of art-making, writing, theorizing, collaborating, presenting, and critiquing. I have talked at length about my own thesis work (…in for a penny, in for a pound with blogging…), but what about my colleagues? Let me preview some of the work that you can experience at the end of this month. 

Now, I have blogged by Media classmate Jenny Garnett. Her line of interactive, body-activated drawing work culminates in her thesis work, On My Mark. Garnett trained for both halves of her performance installation over the past several months–behind the computer and in the gym. The technical half is her custom drawing software with the programming language MaxMSP; Garnett perfected the system to track LED light attached to a moving body. The physical half is that the moving body is her own. Garnett engaged in rigorous physical training, developing a movement choreography for her installation that will create intriguing drawings with her limbs.

With the body comes the breath. Transgression Through Your Breath by Michelle Graves is an interactive wall installation connecting breath with existentialism, philosophy, and autonomic functions. Graves perfected a text-graffitti style over her time in InterArts, and she will literally write on the wall her theories of the communal experience of breath and mortality. Like Garnett, Graves wrote software that integrates into her wall piece: viewers can blow into a wall-mounted microphone, triggering projected text and highlights onto the physical words in the space. Breath and philosophy intertwine and illustrate each other for the viewer that no strictly written text ever could.

Speaking of alternative texts, B&P student Don Widmer’s installation Street Trash… is a supreme example of the multiplicity of narrative. Widmer wrote a novel-length text about the relationship between a group of teenage skaters and an old man. The story is a modern retelling of the Wild Man myth, a tale of male initiation that appears in different versions in many cultures, including The Grimm Brothers as Iron John. Widmer expands his story into our reality by creating sculptural (and wearable) totems that represent his different characters.

Viewers will enter the space as if it were a scene from the novel–a back alley under train tracks. Chain link fencing. Trash cans. Graffiti. There, viewers can inhabit the persona of the characters, where Widmer’s text is spoken by various voice actors in speakers mounted in the totems. Street Trash… was already an engaging read, but the sculptural and audio elements in the installation explode the narrative into our reality, engaging all of our senses.

…and hopefully, Prospective Student, I’ve engaged all of your senses about the upcoming show. The MFA exhibition defines the three-year trek grad students make on their way to strong work in concept, technique, and style.

You’re invited to see, plus all of your friends, family, and loved ones. Tell them I sent you.

Heck, I’ll even have a bowl of cereal waiting for you.

 

InterArts Thesis Exhibition: A Sneak Peek

The MFA Exhibition for Interdisciplinary Arts opens April 20th at the B&P Gallery on 1104 South Wabash. It has been a long time coming for the twelve grads from Media …

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA Mike St. John, chadrikosuave@aol.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience