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Thesis Show Round-Up Part #1: Boston University MFA Exhibition

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With the end of Big Red & Shiny’s first academic year back quickly approaching, we’ve been taking stock of the past 8 months to identify our successes and re-evaluate where we’d like to have a larger impact. One part of our mission has always been to highlight new voices within our cities—emerging artists who are bringing exciting ideas and techniques to their mediums or those who may just be graduating into our arts scene. Around this time every year we are provided with some of these best new voices and, given the number of academic institutions in our area, we have quite a bit to choose from. It only seems fitting then that we take the time to recognize the important work coming out of our schools with what we hope will become a recurring series on our blog. We will, of course, only be able to represent a small sampling of those institutions, but over the next few weeks we hope to provide a snapshot of promising, soon-to-be matriculated Boston artists.
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Boston University Master of Fine Arts Exhibition
Boston University is renowned for its strength in painting. And rather excitingly, over the past few years we've been treated with MFA exhibitions that are balanced between superb 2D and 3D work representing and referencing a diverse range of styles, influences, and materials. I was somewhat discouraged then to find that this year's crop consisted entirely of 2D works—primarily painting with only a smattering of prints or collage with those often appearing like studies within individual theses rather than finished work. While some of the work shown felt repetitious or even confined by its medium, three voices stuck out and have been firmly lodged in my mind since the opening.

Luca De Gaetano:

Becoming one, 2012, Oil on canvas

Luca De Gaetano received his Master in Architecture from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan in 2002. Working in the field in Milan and Paris, Luca felt a desire to shift professionally to the visual arts and moved to Boston in 2008 to pursue further studies. He references both of these transitions in his work: his past as an architect—which is clear in the way he is able to masterfully construct space with simple gestural lines and deep staining of his canvasses—and his immigration to the United States. I say this because his pieces have a romanticized foreignness—somewhat elongated forms exist in collapsed perspectives and irrational settings. Visual references span his surfaces with unseen quotation marks referencing (and straddling) everything from Surrealism to High Mannerism to politics and the theater. His monotypes and etchings are the few pieces within this exhibition that further our understanding of his work and demonstrate his rapid and promising growth as a 2D artist. See more of Luca’s work at www.lucadegaetano.com.
Also, check out Luca’s recently launched Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston. Organized with BU undergraduate Taylor Mortell, Still Running is a multi-faceted projected aimed at producing works in response to and support of the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

Anna Valdez:

Doris, 2012, Oil on panel

Working from the documentation of oral traditions and found photographs, Anna Valdez draws from her academic background in archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, and video to mine her personal and familial history. Histories of all kinds, however, are subject to inevitable shifts and degradation as a result of time, memory loss, and perception and Anna expertly represents the frustration of relying upon stories to develop a self-actualized narrative. Her crafting of collage-like growths over faces obfuscate the identities of her subjects and each painting becomes an attempt to piece together a story guided only by unreliable narrators. To see more of Anna’s work, visit her website: www.annavaldez.com.
Anna will be featured in the upcoming Issue #105 of New America Paintings.

Ashley Freinberg:

After NCT #3, 2012, Oil on canvas

Ashley Freinberg was born in Indianapolis and raised outside of suburban Los Angeles, receiving her BA in Visual Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2009. Installed literally wall-to-wall, Ashley’s thesis exhibition stood out largely for its sheer volume of work—canvas paintings sat on top of overlapping paintings on paper and drawings creating, instead of immediately discernable individual pieces, one large installation. Moving closer, I had hoped that the wall-covering would highlight the beautiful mark-making and mosaic-like patterning that exist in paintings like After NTC #3 and Which Husband Will It Be but it only made it hard to focus and muddied the visual field. What it did accomplish, however, was in creating the sense of being in the studio with her as she worked—shedding light on both her process and how to see this as a recognizable and distinct body of work. See more of Ashley's work at ashleyfreinberg.com.


Boston University's Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition runs through April 28 at their 808 Gallery.
To see more of their work, BU's MFA Open Studios will occur on Saturday, May 11 from 1-5pm at the 808 Commonwealth Avenue building on Boston University's Campus.

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About Author

Brian is an artist, educator and Boston-native and is the Managing Editor of BR&S, coordinating the editorial activities of the publication. He has a BFA from Tulane University in New Orleans and his MFA in Sculpture from MassArt. Brian is also an Assistant Lecturer and the Instructional Media Specialist for the Sculpture and Digital Media disciplines at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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