I visited the School of Art & Design BFA exhibition at Krannert Art Museum two days before the Campus commencement festivities began. But even then, the bittersweet feeling of endings and beginnings hung in the air. These emerging artists, working in a variety of media including photography, sculpture, painting, studio art, industrial design, new media, and graphic design, should be celebrated for the work they created. But they should also be acknowledged for their resilience and their ability to learn and create during a pandemic.
Much of the work displayed in this exhibition felt deeply personal, showing a commitment to using their talents to create space for more diverse identities, to deal with grief, to give back, and to imagine better ways of doing and being in the world.
From Brendan D. O’Shaunessy sculpture, The Consummate Creature, shown above, to Josie Danielle Pines’ mixed media installation, Suspended in Time: Familial Gatherings, seen below, materials were employed in new ways to tell unique stories.
So many of these young artists took on the uncomfortable truths of the world that shaped them and their art. Linda Obobaifo’s Burning Homes, top right, shown with accompanying text below, investigates themes of destruction, sexism, violence, and racial injustice.
A Woman Sanitized
Even after death
a woman’s body
torn into indecipherable pieces
of dry clay crystalized
by browned disease
a cover of white hands
to hold down screams
of cut open stomachs
gutted further down the vaginal
opening—reproductive organs withering.
A woman’s body
even after death
santitized in Black.
Grief and loss remained a recurring theme throughout the exhibition. Izzy Zavala’s COVID mask rug, shown further down, alchemizes what has become the icon image of the pandemic, into a handcrafted, everyday household item. Megan Hann’s The Hardest Goodbye, one of my favorite concepts in the show, creates custom books to “teach children how to approach losing a pet for the first time.”
Photographer Madeline Pierce’s First Loves: Transitional Objects is a fitting exploration of the role of totemic objects as we move through the stages of our lives.
The School of Art & Design BFA Exhibition
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody Ave