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MFA Thesis Exhibition

April 14 - May 1, 2011
Tisch and Koppelman Galleries

This exhibition is the second of an ongoing series of MFA thesis exhibitions shown annually at the Tufts University Art Gallery as part of the joint graduate degree program of Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Public Opening Reception: Thursday, April 14, 5:30-8:00pm
Artists' Talks: Thursday, April 14, 5:00pm

About the artists:

The exponential growth in technological advancements has significantly altered our society, culture, and environment. We are lured into purchasing the newer, slimmer, faster gadget, which almost immediately becomes outdated. But do we stop to think where this detritus ends up after disposal? Why is that an afterthought? Avanian explores our cultural interdependence with technology, featuring large scale charcoal and pencil drawings, and an installation consisting of discarded electronic equipment.

Ani Avanian, Concurrent Influence, 2011, charcoal dust and pencil on paper, 55.5x42 inches

By drawing mutated animals and plants, Kang questions nature's place in the modern context. What is nature? What is natural? Cross-breeding, genetic engineering, and so on; the ways in which humans can control and reconfigure the natural process become more abundant as technology advances. Should the results of such human-developed processes be construed as a part of nature, or should nature exist independently of human progress? The subjects portrayed in the drawings reflect the ambiguity of such definitions and illustrate Kang's struggle to describe what is natural in our present day.

Julie Kang, The Collection # 43, 2008-2011, Ballpoint pen on paper, 8.5 x 11 inches

Through conceptual processes, aggressive paint handling and choice of subject matter, O'Hara will communicate feelings of terror and the sublime. This exhibition includes paintings that reside in a place between abstraction and figuration and a live performance that will take place on the evening of the opening. In her performances, O'Hara will place herself in compromising situations, for which she will use humor, pain, absurdity and vulnerability to draw empathy from the viewer. The resulting documentation from the performance will become part of the installation and will remain throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Anna O'Hara, #28, 2011, Oil on panel, 54x42 inches

As a veteran of the Iraq war, MFA candidate James O'Neill's current body of work The War In Iraq, Recent Drawings confronts his experiences as a soldier. Consisting of three large scale charcoal drawings, this work exposes the grim reality of soldiers in combat.

James P. O'Neill, Iraq Soldier, Charcoal on Paper, 80x90 inches.
(Photo credit: Laura Fischman)

A point of entry is often defined by the space it inhabits. In Sheats' three-part installation of large-scale structures with pushed, pulled, and hammered repousse' metal doors, he reverses this concept. Each door poses its own question. Sheats translates parables of contemplation, spirituality and perplexity as metaphors of human experiences into real and tangible physical space. In this instance, the point of entry defines the space.

Jamaal B. Sheats, Point of Entry ( Detail) Door One, 2011, Aluminum, 84x60 inches.


Wood will be exhibiting four paintings that question and personalize her relationship to the history of the female nude. Working from photography, she depicts herself and others navigating the interior space of a small wooden crate. The staged narrative, translated into paint, examines and emphasizes the physicality and psychology of her body as it exists in space and relates to others. The body is limiting and enabling. One can study it, but it will never be fully understood.

Chelsey Tyler Wood, Small Spaces 1, 2011, oil on canvas, 72x52 inches

As a young Chinese artist living in the United States, Zhang feels a strong sense of being a foreign person in this country especially after her marriage to a US citizen. In her artwork, Zhang explores the difference and displacement that she feels in the US and expresses the complex position she experiences as a Chinese artist, endlessly adopting western systems of philosophy and culture. Zhang continues to deal with culture conflict among the different social values of the two countries, and the frustration and pain she gains when trying to locate herself in both an eastern and western system, particularly in relationship to the continuing global economic crisis.The paintings are narratives of Zhang's life journey. Her characters are mattress and double beds set against cold, wet, ghostly, and quiet night scenes of highways and the sophisticated urban landscapes in Boston. Most of the double beds are fragile and are set in coercive outdoor exposure to the brutal weather. This project is intended to represent the transformation of Zhang's experience of space.

Biyang Zhang, 2 and a half years, 2011, oil on canvas, 36x36 inches