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VCU School of the Arts presents annual spring student exhibitions

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts will present its annual spring student exhibitions beginning March 16 at the Anderson, 907½ W. Franklin St.

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Fumi Amanon's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition. (Photos by Terry Brown, courtesy of VCU School of the Arts)

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts will present its annual spring student exhibitions beginning March 16 at the Anderson, 907½ W. Franklin St.

The end-of-year exhibitions, taking place over six weeks, are free and open to the public. The 2018 Undergraduate Juried Fine Arts Exhibition and VCUarts Design Showcase kick off the season with a free, public reception Friday, March 16, at 5 p.m. The undergraduate exhibition and design showcase run through March 31.

Shannon Slaight-Brown's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition
Shannon Slaight-Brown's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition

These annual exhibitions display the best of undergraduate creative production. In a departure from past years, students submitted works for the 2018 exhibition in response to a themed call — “Sic Semper Tyrannis” —asking students to critically engage with historic and contemporary implications of the Virginia state motto.

“The introduction of a call brings additional focus, purpose and urgency to what is already an exciting exhibition,” said Chase Westfall, curator of Student Exhibition and Programs. “The prompt for this exhibition takes its title from the Latin motto for the state of Virginia, ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis,’ or ‘thus always to tyrants.’ The phrase raises the fundamental issue of how artworks grapple with questions of power. These can range from the personal to the geopolitical and from humor and satire to critique and protest.”

Juror Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, issued the call.

“The prompt invites you to think in broad terms about power at the level of content, media and form,” she said. “For example, on the one hand, one might consider how techniques of abstraction seek to overturn the ‘tyranny of the image.’ On the other, one might consider the ways that artistic representation has been used to ‘speak truth to power’ and to amplify marginalized voices. How can your work be understood to reflect on the many ways that this phrase might resonate in our contemporary moment?”

Chelsea Lee's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition.
Chelsea Lee's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition.

The exhibitions conclude with two rounds of Master of Fine Arts thesis shows, the final requirement for students in the graduate fine arts and design programs. Graduating MFA students will present their final pieces — culminating years of intensive studio practice and associated research.

Round one of the Graduate MFA Thesis Exhibitions begins with an opening reception April 6 at 5 p.m. at the Anderson and runs through April 19. Students from Craft/Material Studies; Painting and Printmaking; Photography and Film; and Sculpture and Extended Media will present their work.

Round two consists of exhibitions in three gallery spaces. Graduate students from Craft/Material Studies; Graphic Design; Kinetic Imaging; Painting and Printmaking; Photography and Film; and Sculpture and Extended Media runs April 27 through May 12 at the Anderson, with an opening reception April 27 at 5 p.m.

Interior Design’s MFA candidate exhibition runs May 7-20 at the VCUarts Depot, with an opening reception on May 10 at 5 p.m.

Theater Design students will exhibit at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design April 30 through May 14. A reception will be held May 10 at 5 p.m.

Francisco Jose Besa Vial's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition.
Francisco Jose Besa Vial's work on display at the 2017 MFA exhibition.

About VCU and the VCU School of the Arts

VCU is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Currently ranked the No. 1 public school of art and design by U.S. News and World Report, the VCU School of the Arts offers 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degree programs in fine arts, design, performing arts, historical research and pedagogical practice. Distinguished faculty members are internationally recognized in their respective fields and contribute significantly to the stature of VCU and are committed to mentoring the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars and engaged citizens of diverse communities around the world. Its campus in Qatar provides students and faculty with a direct tie to the Middle East, a region of increasing significance in the contemporary art world.

About the Anderson

The Anderson at VCUarts is a flexible-use exhibition and event venue supporting student creative and career development. By hosting student, faculty and professional projects, the Anderson compliments the full scope of creative energies and aspirations at one of the nation's leading art schools. It provides a space where students can closely observe relevant, contemporary models and strategies for making, and where their own work can be brought into dialogue with these models. The Anderson is a laboratory where student-initiated, student-led experiments can safely succeed or fail, as necessary, under a system of peer-to-peer accountability. And where students can try on different roles as artists, curators, preparators, agitants, critics, etc. At the same time, the Anderson provides a rich setting for VCUarts students’ more formal, culminant, and public-facing gestures such as Undergraduate and Graduate thesis exhibitions, juried exhibitions, and departmental showcases. Much like the great american ‘garage’, the Anderson enacts an infinitely adaptable, transitional architecture—a mediated space between the ordered energy of the Home (the school experience) and the bigger, wilder world beyond.