Curatorial Projects > San José State University MFA Thesis Exhibition (2019)

San José State University Department of Art and Art History 2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition

A group exhibition featuring work by Abiam Alvarez, Mape Andrews, Marcia Boyajian, Roya Ebtehaj, Kyoko Fischer, Terry Hart, Leily Khatibi, Patricia Ludovici, Sean Peeler, Emily Scettrini, Amanda Trippler, and Emily Van Engel

May 24 - 29, 2019
Root Division
San Francisco, CA

Following on the heels of individual thesis presentations in numerous gallery spaces on the San Jose State University campus (shout out to Christian L. Frock for her 2013 MFA catalog essay, noting that SJSU cultivates more public exhibition opportunities for its students than any other Bay Area art school), this exhibition at respected San Francisco non-profit arts organization Root Division offers a unique opportunity to holistically view and engage with the work of all twelve artists at the culmination of their graduate studies.

Each Spring presents opportunities to experience work coming out of the robust MFA programs in the Bay Area. Although the majority of these programs present the work of MFA candidates in culminating group exhibitions, San Jose State University first have students prepare individual thesis exhibitions in support of their graduate degree conferral applications. Given a singular 400 to 600 square foot exhibition space to present their work, it is an exciting and perhaps daunting proposition for the artists in the SJSU program, but also boldly offers an occasion for an intensely focused solo exhibition. Allowing artists to fully consider and subsequently ascertain how material manifestation of their conceptual visions come to be shared with a public — without the distraction of other works by peers in visual proximity — is paramount in providing a platform that positions their work on its own merit. Yet this structure does not allow for the public to see a collective whole of a graduating cohort of artists who have so much common experience through the SJSU MFA program.

During studio visits in preparation for organizing this larger group exhibition at Root Division, I had the opportunity to see some thesis presentations on full display, and to discern how some artists contextualized their practice, how they resolved creating a spatial narrative with particular placement of works, and how they rose to the challenge of presenting a solo exhibition. Other artists who would have their thesis presentations later on were fervently finishing up and preparing work. SJSU offers an exceptional opportunity to have dedicated spaces to professionally present culminating thesis projects in a public realm. Although the perceived distance to San Jose often serves as a barrier for those based in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley from making the trip, this exhibition at Root Division serves to bring the work up to a different community as well as presenting a singular survey of the manifold ideas emerging from this year’s graduating SJSU MFA class.