BAR Magazine

Issue 02

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In Search of Coalescence at SMFA Tufts

Review

by BAR Editorial

25 May 2018

Alicia Rodriguez Alvisa, (2018). Video still from Challenge.

On Saturday, May 19th, In Search of Coalescence, SMFA’s Senior Thesis exhibition opened to the public. The exhibition highlights the work of the 20 artists selected for the 2017-2018 SMFA Senior Thesis Program. Over the course of the academic year artists in the Senior Thesis Program work independently, with faculty, and with peers to create a cohesive body of work.

The exhibition is on view throughout the third floor painting studios, which have been miraculously and painstakingly transformed into gallery space. This year’s exhibition is heavy on multi-media work and installation. Throughout the work in the exhibition the artist’s search for coalescence is thematically broad. The strongest work addresses the topics of identity, and personal history.

Alicia Rodriguez Alvisa’s multi channel video installation, Challenge, is a powerful statement on the artist’s own investigation into her identity as, “a person of color, a woman, an immigrant Latina and a visual artist.” She carefully explains how her identity, existing structures of power and oppression impact her on a daily basis while she simultaneously runs on a treadmill, does pull-ups and lifts weights, growing more breathless with every frame.

Ellie LaCourt, Life Cycles. (2018). Detail of Animation, Hand-drawn Animation.

Ellie LaCourt’s deceptively simple and humorous animations confronting notions of ideal femininity and body image are mesmerizing to watch. Daniel Corral’s photographs of queer folks address issues of intimacy, identity and privacy. Utilizing the camera obscura method each large-scale photograph transports the viewer into a quiet space of cathedral-esque light and shadow cast across the subject’s body.

On the night of the opening Salvadora McCaffrey, in a pink dress and apron, served up plates of soul food (turkey, collard greens, cornbread, etc.) to those who would sit at the kitchen table in her installation. A re-creation of her grandma’s kitchen—complete with 1970s era wallpaper, cabinets, orange counter tops, curtains and a checkered floor—her performance filled the gallery space with nostalgia, conversation, and the aroma of her grandma’s cooking. Though we couldn’t hear the conversation of the four people at the artist’s table, we did overhear one visitor ask, “How is this art?” Perhaps unaware that there is a long list of artists that make work centered around relational aesthetics and community engagement. One can only hope the conversation at McCaffery’s table was more interesting.

Salvadora McCaffrey, Dora Lee Parnham's Kitchen (2018).

In Search of Coalescence features the work of Mabel Albert, Alicia Rodriguez Alvisa, Allie Bartlett, Chloe Bustin, Renee Coppola, Daniel Corral, Cynae, Serena Feingold, Quinn Guarino, Carlisle Isley, Nika Korchok, Ellie LaCourt, Ma Chih Ching, Salvadora McCaffrey, Cleo Miao, Nick Papa, Sara Pizarro, Rachel Shiloach, Tyler Villa and Clay Woolery.

On view at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 230 Fenway until May 24, 2018.