Some art screams, some whispers

MARIAH INMAN | Evergreen reporter

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Walking through the Masters of Fine Art (MFA) Exhibition, there is a jarring change in mood from the front to the back. The artwork begins with loud, chaotic pieces and suddenly shifts to quiet, minimalist works halfway through the exhibit.

“The first half of the museum, the work is very expressive and vibrant and very flamboyant, and then as you move towards the back of the museum, the work becomes a little more introspective and quiet,” WSU fine art graduate student Hayley Black said. “I think it’s something where you might sit down and think a little bit versus having a lot of stimuli.”

Six Masters of Fine Art candidates present their work in the MFA Exhibition. The candidates include Hayley Black, Stephen Cohen, Annie Cunningham, Andre Fortes, Yuanwen Lin and Laura Pregeant.

“It just kind of shows our vast amount of interest. I think we all have our own niche that we’re trying to talk about, so the exhibition itself is fun in that way,” Black said. “You can come in, get to see all the different things we’re interested in and how we choose to portray them.”

The quieter pieces in the back include Cohen, Cunningham and Lin’s works. Cohen chose to portray a quiet, isolated town similar to the Pullman area.

“I created this fictional town, Hillside Neighborhood, and it’s based off of Pullman,” Cohen said. “It’s kind of these feelings of raw solitude, isolation … from being here, feelings of a rural community.”

He based one of his pieces specifically off a house he passes everyday while going to WSU because it is familiar to him living in Pullman.

“It’s something I was endeavored to portray, but I’ve lived here for the past two years and I’m not sure why I haven’t painted or drawn it,” Cohen said.

In the process of making the artwork, he found himself getting a little messier piece by piece.

“At first, it was really neat and juxtaposed and had this sort of Edward Hopper to it, and then all of the sudden, I felt like one house had to be in the upper corner, one house had to be towards the lower bottom and one house had to be in the middle,” Cohen said. “Half the canvas is torn off, the canvas is wrinkled … it just kind of became this chaos.”

In contrast to Cohen’s “Hillside Neighborhoods” series, Black’s series – called “Hesitate” – is large and loud. As Black tried to figure out what to create for her thesis, she thought of crocheting and how faculty members kept asking her to make some pieces that were larger than her usual palm-sized works.

“I have these ginormous tapestries that are really bright, wild colors that kind of make a joke with myself in the way that they’re so loud and invasive and how I don’t want to be that way,” Black said. “[I’m] just allowing a little bit of humor to show through my works.”

Her tangled, colorful, net-like series has filler words such as “um” and “so” woven into it, to portray the words placed in the limbo-pause that occurs when people speak nervously.

“I’ve put them up publicly for everyone to see and kind of take part in my own self-evaluation to kind of create a point of connection to people because I feel like many people struggle with the same thing. And so I’m trying to reach out and show this is how I feel about it, how do you feel?” Black said.

In comparison to Black’s series, Lin expressed a personal struggle through her art as well. Lin chose a subtle method to show her struggle with learning English and her frustration with trying to communicate with others, Black explained.

“There’s this blank wall, and it says ‘Chinglish’ on her wall,” Cohen said. “It’s very quiet, very small piece there. It’s very minimalist.”

In addition to the minimalist work, Cunningham’s series brings an educational feel to art with use of her own paper and basic paint material, Black said.

“Hers is a little more educational and sort of didactic in a way where she’s kind of trying to bring attention to how these invasive plants are working with the environment here,” Black said.

There will be a MFA Exhibition Reception from 6 – 8 p.m. on Friday in the Museum of Art. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.

The MFA Exhibition will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through May 6 in the Museum of Art. Admission is free.