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Artists Defy Limits of Traditional Canvas in MFA Thesis Exhibition 2004, May 2-23
"The Bacchae I," by Fabienne Lasserre, whose work is featured in the MFA Thesis Exhibition

Two dozen graduate students in the Visual Arts will share with the public the culmination of their two-year experience at Columbia University when they take part in the MFA Thesis Exhibition 2004.

At the exhibition, 25 students display their works, in a range of media that includes sculpture, painting, printmaking, photography, video and performance art.

"The projects are incredibly ambitious," said Ali Subotnick, the show's curator and co-founder of The Wrong Gallery in Chelsea . "Many of the works go beyond two-dimensional representation."

One such example is Mika Rottenberg's The Tropical Breeze Project (2004), in which she finds women with extreme physical abilities, and casts them in various scenarios. For this work, Rottenberg made an infomercial for her invented product, Tropical Breeze Tissues, featuring a factory in the back of a truck where tissues scented with lemon and drenched in the sweat of the bodybuilder who is driving are packaged by a dancer.

Another highlight of the show is Noah Fischer's Empire Channel ( 2004), for which he created a tower composed of archetypal political and social images hand-painted onto film and shown on four revolving lanterns that project onto a tent enclosure. Each lantern, illuminated at separate intervals, displays such images as George Bush's face and black-and-white scenes from Times Square.

Anna Craycroft mixes performance, sound, instruction and architecture in her large-scale installations that explore how interpersonal dynamics are manifested in the physical world. For her thesis project, she presents fragments of a fictional palatial mansion, built according to the extreme fantasies of its owners. The structure is in a continuous state of excavation and renovation, and each room is inspired by an autobiographical theme.

Mounting such a show is no easy task, says Jon Kessler, Chair of the Visual Arts Division at Columbia University . "The students roll up their sleeves and build out the show, from lighting to sheetrock installation. It's an enormous amount of work."

Kessler adds that for the past four years, the show has been in Harlem venues. "We are proud to continue this tradition by again having the exhibition in the Studebaker Building ," he says.

Julia Vicinus, development and alumni relations officer for the School of the Arts, says, "This is a great opportunity for galleries to get the next hot young artist." She says Columbia 's Visual Arts Division is enjoying a high profile; there currently are about 10 shows in New York City featuring work by Columbia alumni and faculty.

The opening of the MFA Thesis Exhibition 2004 is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, May 2, at the Studebaker Building, 615 W. 131st St., 5th floor (just west of Broadway). The show takes place May 2 to May 23. Except for opening day, hours are noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sundays. Admission is free.

Lead sponsors for this year's show are Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, Fifth Floor Foundation, Emily Fisher Landau, David Schafer, and Nancy Wender and Steven Rand.

For more information about the exhibition, call 212.854.4065 or go to:


Columbia University's Visual Arts Division in the School of the Arts seeks artists of unusual promise to join in an interdisciplinary M.F.A. program of diverse artistic practices and intense critical dialogue. Students must share in the desire to pursue their artistic vision in ways that will contribute to the formation of a contemporary global culture.

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Published: Apr 30, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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