A Message from the Dean, May 2020
It is my pleasure to introduce MassArt’s May 2020 graduate thesis exhibition.
The sustained life of an artist requires learning how to keep making the work in the face of doubt, rejection, fear, and loss. That’s true without a pandemic. The artists showcased here have earned their Master’s degrees in a semester unlike any other in MassArt’s history. As the dangers of COVID-19 emerged in Boston, our students, for their safety, had to leave their campus studios and complete their thesis work remotely. Each of them approached this challenge with creativity, empathy, and grace.
In the last few months, many of us have been oddly bound to our own reflections. In online meetings, classes, chats, and celebrations, we see our boxed image alongside other boxed images. A gathering of torsos spread across a screen. Eyes travel right and left, trying to catch a gaze, or perhaps looking elsewhere. We speak and listen and perpetually see ourselves speaking and listening. Mirrors seduce us into thinking that they know us better than we know ourselves. Can we understand ourselves better as we watch our digital reflection interacting with other reflections? In Metamorphoses, Ovid writes of Narcissus, who tries to grasp his own image in the pool, “Fool, why try to catch a fleeting image, in vain? What you search for is nowhere: turning away, what you love is lost! What you perceive is the shadow of reflected form: nothing of you is in it. It comes and stays with you, and leaves with you, if you can leave!”
Art gives us another kind of mirror—one that dares us to look into inner and outer depths and which promises richer rewards: seeing, knowing, and experiencing resonance. Let the beauty of these pieces in this show work on you. Not Narcissistic beauty but beauty as impact. The pace of our lives is now unfamiliar, the earth teeters, politicians posture. Beauty as meaning, with all the implicit darkness and light, has never been more necessary, and these 10 artists offer up the real thing.
I’d like to note that this exhibition represents the culmination of a master’s degree, and it is worthy of celebration. At the same time, this showing is one experiment in a life filled with creative experiments. The artistic life is built on locating interesting problems (visual, social, ontological…) and trying to solve them. If this show is any indication, I have every hope that these gifted artists will have lives filled with the most engaging problems. In my view that’s the highest compliment you can give an artist.
–Lucinda Bliss, MassArt Dean of Graduate Studies