Graduate artists work based on topics relevant and important to society


LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen

Yuanwen Lin talks about her experiences working on art projects at WSU on Friday in the CUB.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidates showed others their work through the MFA Thesis Exhibition, in which second-year candidates shared their theses in the WSU Museum of Art.

Curator of Arts and Exhibitions Ryan Hardesty worked with the candidates to help prepare them for their thesis show.

“My role [was] in terms of how we’re going to display their work in the gallery in the most eloquent way,” Hardesty said.

The exhibition took place from April 4 to May 6 and showcased the work of the six second-year MFA candidates. These candidates were Hayley Black, Stephen Cohen, Annie Cunningham, Andre Fortes, Laura Pregeant and Yuanwen Lin.

“This exhibition is a really challenging one to be a part of because the artists are going through so many changes from when they first started here,” Hardesty said. “This moment is a huge moment for them. It’s the culmination of everything they’ve done.”

Artists used any art medium they wanted. Hardesty said he enjoyed this aspect of the show the most.

“I always love this exhibition because it’s so eclectic. We typically have on view a wide range of artistic practices,” Hardesty said. “In this case, we have multiple artists involved in installation art, and using art in three dimensions to alter our perceptions.”

The candidates chose their theses based on what they felt close to. The topics ranged from ideas surrounding utopia to struggles with language.

“I think each one of these artists are engaged in topics that are important to society. We have an artist who’s working with ideas around art and ecology and sustainability,” Hardesty said. “There’s artists who tapped into popular culture and how faith might dovetail into that. I commend them for taking on tough issues.”

Lin spent this semester working on her thesis surrounding language and her struggle with transitioning from growing up in China to speaking English.

“When I speak English, there’s a lot of things happening in my mind that only I can feel that others can’t see,” Lin said. “This is trying to show people what it feels like.”

Her exhibit included a mirror piece, to represent how her audience doesn’t always interpret what she says in the way she means it. Another piece combined a mouth with a door to represent the Chinese character meaning “to ask,” and how many conversations begin with questions. She included other pieces as well to get her message across.

“The gum piece connects with the brain piece. When we’re chewing gum, we’re not talking, but our mouth is working. We usually chew gum and don’t eat it, we just throw it,” Lin said. “This is kind of like when we have some conversations that we don’t think about a lot, we just have them and throw them away.”

Lin said she plans to return to China soon after her graduation this past weekend. She said she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do, but that she’ll definitely continue making art.

“All of the things about this experience were valuable and interesting,” Lin said. “I got to try lots of things to make lots of things.”