Review: MFA theses

By: Jenn Jaeger


It’s displays of pure imagination such as the second display of Master of Fine Arts (MFA) theses at the East Campus Hall Art Gallery (called ‘uwag’) that show us the human mind is capable of real creativity.

The Art Gallery showed the second round of MFA theses from May 2 to 18. Gallery 1 displayed MFA candidate Zahra Baseri’s thesis titled Tell All The Truth But Tell It Slant; and Gallery 2 displayed Paula McLean’s thesis, To Catch A Glimpse of Things.

The faint scent of gasoline greeted guests in Gallery 1. There were three instalments: various drawings lined up along the back wall, large pieces of paper draping over containers of an oil-like substance, and a metal box with designs such as the chemical make-up of oil carved out and made visible on the wall by a light inside the box.

Baseri’s summary of the work depicts it as a collection of “images, objects and spaces that subtly speak to the collective phenomenological experience of a shared melancholia that those who self-identify as Iranian are undergoing.”

It brings light to “the problematic nature of binary power dynamics” and “addresses complex issues of the oppressive ruling system in Iran that continually and deliberately produces socio-political turmoil as a way to control its citizens.”

It forces the viewer to see the inconsistency between the story we think we know when we use oil and the story of the people who are directly impacted by oil extraction and production.

In Gallery 2, McLean’s artwork used distorted images, especially distorted photocopies, to form the paintings, drawings, and sculptures in the exhibition.

“I am constantly removing distinct shapes from the distortions and translating them into different forms… I want the work to speak to the way the mind attempts to select and arrange distinct memories from lived experience,” McLean said.

This speaks to the uniqueness and messiness of human perception, how our minds analyze, prioritize, and erase, or substitute aspects of our own experience in order to attempt to understand the world around us.

The exhibition is free and open to everyone. The next MFA theses exhibitions are next year.

For more information about these and other exhibits happening throughout the year visit


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