MCAD MFA Graduating artists showcase: intimate rooms, disco lights and satellites

I love going to see emerging artists. No better place for it than the Minneapolis College of And Design graduating MFA student showcase. And what a strange year to be graduating from an art college – after a year in pandemic mode in the city that was the epicenter of social justice after the murder of George Floyd.

Two of the artists (Trina Fernandez and Jocelyn Suzuka) created the feel of a bedroom or other personal space. The patron was invited into the space, to poke around and touch the details of the art. Fernandez’s space feel like an artist’s studio apartment with some amazing paper dresses on mannequins. The piece incorporated music and a record player although the music playing was not the music on the turntable. But it was fun to be up and close to get those sort of details. Suzuka’s space felt like a call back to a child’s room. Visitors were invited to touch, hold and pet the plush animals in the room. It’s an extremely intimate experience to reenact the hug of a childhood memory. Suzuka also shows a photo of her grandparents, who she recreated as stuffed cats. She captures their emotion in an exaggerated cat-way that makes them even more human.

Alondra Garza had a similar, yet very different work, that presented two sides of the US-Mexico border. The scenes were a glimpse at how people straddling the border live with the things they have around them. There were similarities and differences in the spaces but the barbed wire separating the two spaces made the differences more striking because it’s a brutal reminder that we are all people. We are similar. The politics of the barbed wire is not inherent, it’s a manmade construct.

There were pieces that included books, apps and technology. Yao Jian’s drawings have child-friendly quality. They showcase, in a nurturing way, everyday activities that can be fraught with decision and emotions. Zhangruo Sun created an app that keeps kids engaged while they get their hair cut. Awesome! Darren Schneibel has created a satellite and dish along with information on Elon Musk and SpaceX and a condemnation of his use of government money as the second wealthiest person on Earth who is “obsessed with colonizing extraterrestrial locations.” (I felt like I could have added some footnotes to his work, given my day job writing about rural broadband.)

Two of the artists celebrated the body. Kyle Bredain showed body casts of larger gay men, which as I learned, resembled his shape. It was an opportunity for him to learn to own and love his own body without judgement. I loved the intricate felt flowers surrounding the bodies. They lift the model to god-like status. Alejandro Junyao Zhang recreated a nightclub, inspired by queer club scene of Shanghai. It was an immersive experience. When you walk in they turn on the club music and then there was a video of a scantily dressed man dancing. His face was went from serious to joy once he started dancing. There should be a way to bottle the swagger and sass of he embodies.

The show is free and open until May 16.

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