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First-year MFA students present exhibition at Smart Museum of Art

Seven first-year MFA students at the University of Chicago worked with Smart Museum of Art curator Stephanie Smith to create a wall of works on paper from the permanent collection— along with intervening pieces of their own—as part of the reinstallation of the contemporary galleries. The project, titled On Paper, was begun by establishing a set of criteria and themes gleaned from a critical discussion of recently acquired work by Michael Rakowitz, which is also part of the exhibit.

The project is organized around the following themes:

Paper: As medium, material and subject
Circulation: Alternate modes of exchange and movement
Politics: Contemporary culture and events as subject
Recontextualization: Items that have attained the status of art through change in context.

With these notions in mind, each of the student curators culled through the Smart Museum’s database and selected artworks that spoke to the group’s concepts and their own aesthetic sensibilities. Through a process of debate and discussion, the group arrived at the works now on display.

The students are also practicing artists and as such chose or created pieces in response to the themes and works selected. This allowed them to interact with the history of art in a deeper way, literally situating themselves in the conversations.  The students’ works appear alongside such renowned artists as Pablo Picasso, Hans Haacke, and Kara Walker. On Paper is on view through mid-August, 2008 at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A Flickr gallery of the installation process is available here:

The MFA students contributed the following works:

Work on Paper, 2008 (Acrylic and oil on wood)’

Pussy Heart, 2005 (inkjet print on paper); Aluminum Heart, 2004 (aluminum foil); I miss you, come back, 2008 (pencil on paper); Love Letters to Renee, 2004–2008 (assorted correspondence in Ziplock bag)

Exchange:606**, 2008 (Intermedia (photo)

Whoever digs a hole for his brother falls therein, 2008 (ink on paper on wooden structure)

Still We Live & Die at the Same Time and Never Notice the Difference, 2008 (decollaged cardboard drinking coaster); AMBROSE / AMBROSIA, 2008 (decollaged cardboard drinking coaster)

Media Mourning, 2008 (Red box, medium grey photo paper, projector, laptop, black gaffers tape, surge protector)

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