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MFA Thesis Exhibitions

One of Jacqueline Rose Schlossman's golf series photographs

By Bret McCabe | Posted 4/19/2006

MFA Thesis Exhibitions

At the Maryland Institute College of Art galleries through May

The MFA Thesis Exhibitions continue with the opening reception for the next installment April 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

MICA peppers April and May with a string of quick, short shows spotlighting the thesis work of its master’s of fine arts candidates from many departments. The shows are compact and spread out through the Institute’s Fox 3, Decker, Meyerhoff, and Pinkard galleries. Checking them out is an appetizer way of taking in what MICA is spitting out into the art world.

The most recent Decker Gallery MFA Exhibition offered some ambitious painting and photography and blithe conceptual wonkery. For 25 years John W. Moran painted on the side, and his works exude a confidence that maturity instills. His large-scale portraits of historical women free associate references with styles, yielding highly polished works of aged beauty. For example, the woman in “Godiva at Home” is rendered in the elongated flatness and burnt umber and dusty ochre of Etruscan frescoes, finished with a highly polished sheen. His series of six “Anatomies” mixed-media prints provide a peak into his process in its nascent phase, with mere fragments of forms and figure taken shape in inconsistent lines on the page.

More elusive are Andrew Eklund’s objects. He is using Star Wars to some seriocomic effect, although it’s not quite clear why or how. His “We must harness the moon’s abundant resources, but that’s no moon” hangs from the ceiling and lists as its only material, “sphere.” It’s basically a globe painted gray, tethered by a chord, and decorated with some quick black circles and lines dividing it into pie shapes that suggests the Death Star from George Lucas’ mythology. Another ceiling-strung piece, “A star destroyer on patrol over planet earth or as a nation we have no ambitions of empire,” is a, well, star destroyer made entirely of tongue depressors, its lone cited material. (Also included: a gigantic, interactive cockpit mock-up called “I’ll come around on the Falcon” that you can step into.) You get the impression Eklund is aiming for the cheeky, sideways commentary that Bill Davenport nails with effortless glee, but Eklund hasn’t quite sighted his wit just yet.

Jacqueline Schlossman’s work takes photography sideways with much more success. All 12 of her chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum are, at first blush, rather conventional landscape shots of golf courses. Titled simply for name and place—“Mount Pleasant Golf Course Baltimore, MD,” “Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla, CA”—Schlossman’s images start to reveal their subtle secrets when seen in series. Although people are sometimes on the course, they’re far off in the frame or partially obscured by rolling hills or sand-trap bunkers. She catches courses in various times of year and day, capturing sunlight and shadows with such plein-air painterly sensitivity that you start to sympathize with her almost fetishistic eye: The photos treat overtly man-engineered nature as outdoorsy landscape, each composition chosen with surgically specific reasons.

The most visually arresting work in this group comes from Gloria Adams. Her brightly colored paintings of darkly themed phantasmagorias are richly detailed, obsessively realized, and quite possibly come from a very, very warped corner of the brain. Her seven paintings and six studies provide peeks into a nursery rhyme-esque world of implied violence, where nude, pre-pubescent girls—some tribally tattooed or ceremonially hennaed—hunt and kill game for some unknown ritual, have makeshift dresses formed of insects, strap dolls to their legs as if Lara Croftian handguns, and burn piles of dead birds with unabashed relish. All of these works are rendered with OCD care: peacock’s plumage is achieved in a dazzling web of smooth curves and paisley brushstrokes. En masse, the body of work feels like some all-female collision of “Love is . . .” cartoons and The Lord of the Flies as realized by some possibly pathological 17th-century Flemish naturalist capable of unforgettable background imagery—such as, in “Seven Sisters,” the mirthful malevolence of one of these childlike warriors heaving a decapitated doll’s head with an unmistakably homicidal nonchalance. (Bret McCabe) H

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