UCSB MFA 2012 Exhibition ‘Headgear for Tony’ is Fascinatingly Variable


Irene Wang

The opening reception for the UCSB Master of Fine Arts 2012 Exhibition at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum showcased the works of nine MFA recipients from UCSB Department of Art’s graduate program on Saturday, May 19. Tim Brown, Jared Flores, Emily Halbardier, Bessie Kunath, Jae Hee Lee, Nick Loewen, Ruby Osorio, Rimas Simaitis and Van Tran are hard working graduate students that are well-known TAs for many art studio classes, and they now have their very innovative works, which merge the space of art with daily life, displayed for all of Santa Barbara to see.

Brown’s work uniquely utilizes a relationship between light, space and time. His ultimate goal is to have his audience question the way an art object is presented in a gallery space. He uses materials such as Mylar, wood and lights to create bright and colorful pieces that pull viewers in immediately.

You can also see work by Flores, who merges ideas of commercialism in the world today with techniques from Renaissance artists.

“My newest piece shows the process of combining pop cultural icons that have this very specific sort of masculine charge to them and working to create what I consider is religious doctrine painting where it sort of takes from religious imageries from the past,” said Flores.

A little more down to earth, Halbardier analyses ideas of existence and the mess of everyday life in her pieces. She uses objects such as hair and rotten vegetables, particles that are normally overlooked. In the exhibition, Halbardier includes a piece from her past, a painting of an old photograph, as a key to understand the other works that she displays.

“I also think about it as some place in the future where domestic environments and interiors start coming to life, and inorganic forms come out of these inanimate everyday objects we use all the time,” said Halbardier.

If you’re looking to see sculptures or video, check out Kunath’s works. Kunath creates pieces that convey images in people’s daily lives and question why certain things invoke and contain certain feelings and meanings. With these questions, she actually works to further complicate the meanings behind the objects that she focuses on.

Through many writings and different cultural references, such as national flags, Lee’s work reflects on her personal experience of moving from South Korea to the United States. Her displayed pieces in the exhibition are wall paintings. These are just as important to create as it is for her to paint over at the very end, which she considers to be the final step in completion.

Loewen’s work focuses on the undefined and the unattainable. Using drawings and materials such as plastic, wood and steel, Loewen creates pieces that push his audience to think about the spaces in-between any object.

Osorio’s art represents a balance between abstraction and representation. While her work consists of very recognizable images and items, she transforms these images into a more fantastical and dream-like narrative by using mediums such as color pencil, flashe paint and watercolor.

Simaits is another artist that works his experiences with his surroundings into his pieces. Using very original materials, such as coconuts and boogie boards, his work references the unconsciously defined aspects of culture in respect to attitudes and imagery.

Lastly, Tran is well known for an art piece that she brought out during Halloween Weekend of 2011: a mobile shadow puppet show in front of the Bagel Cafe, which also featured a familiar face among Isla Vista residents, Pirate. In this exhibition, Tran explores the physical world and the communities that surround her, integrating art and performance.

“It’s more about engaging with people,” said Tran, “and that kind of engagement creates a specific experience for viewers, for participants.”

These fascinating art pieces will continue to be on display until Friday, June 8.The exhibition runs Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Santa Barbara CAF in Paseo Nuevo Mall.