2020 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition


photograph of empty museum photograph of empty museum

May 1 – 17, 2020
We are pleased to present this website featuring the work of the 2020 Master of Fine Arts degree candidates Courtney Bernardo, Sean Corcoran, Maxwell Goodknight, Anthony Jackson (Bugzdale), Erica Kaufman, Ya Li, Arnela Mahmutović, Meghan Mason, Anna Nina Pellicone, and Tzuyun Wei. The 60-credit M.F.A. is the terminal graduate degree in studio art.

A tradition since 1984, the M.F.A. exhibition is an important way in which the University Art Museum and the Department of Art and Art History collaborate to enhance the academic environment at the University at Albany. This year, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the exhibition will be documented in this publication and presented virtually through a dedicated website. Both of these formats represent the culmination of these students' intensive training and study in studio art practices. Despite unprecedented circumstances, these students are participating in their first professional museum experience. They are realizing their M.F.A. exhibition in a new and responsive form and we are honored to share their efforts with the academic community, alumni, audiences of the Capital Region, and beyond. We are grateful to the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Ann C. Mataraso Endowment Fund, in honor of Professor Emeritus Mark Greenwold, for support of the exhibition and publications. The Department of Art and Art History would also like to thank the museum staff for its hard work and dedication throughout the exhibition process.

Sarah R. Cohen, Chair, Department of Art and Art History
Corinna Ripps Schaming, Director/Chief Curator, University Art Museum

An M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition in the Time of COVID-19

Here we are, together in isolation, with our heads spinning and hearts aching. This is not what you signed up for when you decided to go for your M.F.A. two years ago. Who could have imagined? Small consolation, but you now join the ranks of every American artist that persevered through trying times from the Great Depression, to the Protest Movements of the 1960s, to the AIDS crisis. This is your tribe now.

You belong to a new history. Your thesis exhibition stands light-years apart from the 56 M.F.A. thesis shows mounted at the UAM since 1984, when the M.F.A. program began. If you do the math (and we have), each one of these exhibitions featured an average of 10 artists. That's approximately 560 artists over 36 years, and never in that time did any of these artists face the challenge of realizing a thesis exhibition during a global pandemic. To say that it's a disappointment that you will not be able to show your work as planned is stating the obvious. Cold comfort for all that you have invested and envisioned. But we are beyond that, now, looking back not on the show that never happened but at the bonds you have formed with your fellow grads and your mentors, the crits in which you stood your ground, the moments that you realized you were in it for the long haul, the hours upon hours that you put in the studio, the frustrations you faced when the work wasn't happening, the exhilaration of knowing that you were onto something, that you were working it out, that you had something to say,

that you were a singular voice, but also part of a larger continuum of emerging artists with so much to say—about dislocation, race, identity, trauma, a natural world on the brink, and about being human and vulnerable. In planning for your thesis exhibition in the University Art Museum, most of you had very specific plans for a physical installation in a discrete space specifically designed for exhibiting works of art. It has been nothing short of inspiring to see how, with that rug ripped from under your feet, you have each risen to the occasion to present a version of your planned exhibition that is so much more than a compromise. Each of you has embraced the dual responsibilities to both reflect and help shape the culture in which your practice is situated, especially in times of crisis such as these. And never has your work been more prescient or compelling than in this weird and stressful collective moment. Your newly refined focus, deeply held convictions, and galvanized connections to the world outside your studio will be forever central to the arc of your artistic career. Also know that you are ready to move on. It wasn't supposed to happen this way, but it did and here you are ...

Danny Goodwin, Associate Professor, Director, Studio Art Program
Corinna Ripps Schaming, Director/Chief Curator

University Art Museum
University at Albany
State University of New York
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12222
Copyright © 2020 University Art Museum
Editor: Elizabeth Floyd Mair

Supported by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Ann C. Mataraso Endowment Fund, in honor of Professor Emeritus Mark Greenwold.

2020 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Instructors:
Rakhee Balaram, Assistant Professor of Global Art & Art History
JoAnne Carson, Professor of Studio Art, Graduate Director
Leona Christie, Associate Professor of Studio Art, Printmaking Area Head
Adam Frelin, Associate Professor of Studio Art, Undergraduate Director, Sculpture Area Head
Danny Goodwin, Associate Professor of Studio Art, Studio Program Director, Photography Area Head
Amy Griffin, Lecturer in Studio Art
Alexander Ross, Lecturer in Studio Art
David Shapiro, Lecturer in Studio Art
Kianja Strobert, Lecturer in Studio Art
Melissa Thorne, Assistant Professor of Studio Art, Painting and Drawing Area Head
Brian Tolle, Visiting Assistant Professor of Studio Art
Oliver Wasow, Lecturer in Studio Art