The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

Graduates’ Success

Regular readers of Artsword over the past semester will have seen many stories of the successes of students completing SoVA’s graduate programs. At the Penn State Graduate School’s spring commencement, ten students graduated from the M.F.A. program, and one from the Ph.D. in Art Education.

Ju Chun Cheng, accompanied by faculty sponsor Professor Charles Garoian, graduated with her Ph.D. after successfully defending her dissertation, titled "Finding The Museum: The Spatial Discontinuities of The Mattress Factory Art Museum".

During the spring semester those students completing their M.F.A. all held thesis exhibitions, which comprises a body of work that is presented in a public exhibition. M.F.A. graduates sometimes presented solo exhibits, or in two- or three-person shows in the Zoller Gallery. The thesis exhibitions presented in 2014 included:

Sarah Swist and Roberto Lugo: Big as Life and Twice as Ugly (February 24–28). In this two-person exhibition, Roberto (M.F.A. Ceramics) explained that his “motivation is to deface adversity, vandalize hatred, and offer a viewer why the world is not greener on the other side.” Sarah (M.F.A. Drawing/Painting), has shown her work in exhibitions in Illinois, California, Iowa, Michigan, Arkansas, New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Her paintings on show drew in part from her experiences at the Frost Entomological Museum, where she investigated entomological curiosities from the massive specimen collections.

Danyel Woodring and Negar FadaeiDehkordi: dis.turbance (March 3–March 7). This two-person exhibition from students concentrating in Photography explored the interruption of a settled and peaceful condition. Danyel’s photography deals with the disturbance of illness, while Negar’s technique of appropriating images from art history and Islamic art examined the disturbances of censorship and surveillance.

Steven Read and Charles Mankey: A New Rhetoric (March 17–20). Steven (M.F.A. Sculpture) explored the differences and connections between traditional methods of making and the new technologies, and how we can use both to have new interactions with nature. Charles’ (M.F.A. Photography) work was motivated by a need to bring awareness to creating a more harmonious relationship with the environment. 

Sidney Church and Nouf Alhamdan (March 24–28). Sidney’s (M.F.A. Sculpture) exhibition, Accented, was a multimedia show of D.I.Y. concocted sculptures and video dealing with Southern stereotypes. Nouf Alhamdan’s (M.F.A. New Media) exhibition, Waiting for GPS Signal, captured her journey from Saudi Arabia to the United States, and issues that she encountered along the way.

Kevin Mercer, Gabriel Ibias, and Brooks Oliver: AETHER (March 31 – April 4) combined the concentrations of Drawing/Painting, New Media, and Ceramics. Containing large-scale installations, sci-fi models, and virtual reality settings, the show presented the idea of an ethereal space, somewhere between the real and the imaginary.

Margaret Kinkeade and Christina Erives: Vernacular Objects (April 7–11). Margaret and Christina both completed an M.F.A. in Ceramics. Christina’s work focused on her memories of growing up as one of twelve children in Los Angeles. Using magical surrealism and extreme attention to detail, she constructed information-rich installations that spoke of her experience as a Mexican-American. Margaret’s work highlighted the object as a vessel for memory. She created familiarly mundane objects that highlighted how we collect memories and how those memories change as we recollect them.

Dengke Chen: Aniramic (April 21–25). Dengke (M.F.A. New Media) filled the Zoller Gallery with an extraordinary series of digital animations. Unlike the single narrative storytelling techniques used in traditional animations to amuse and entertain audiences, Dengke's animations were nonlinear narratives that required viewers to critically reflect on social and ethical issues that surround us.

Congratulations to all our successful graduates!