Gallery: Columbia University – Visual Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition 2015

by Eric J. Davis

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Written by Eric J. Davis for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Talia Link, Rachel Stern, and Bora Kim

5 out of 5 stars


LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (Sunday, April 26, 2015) Thought-provoking works by twenty-seven visionary artists were in full force today at the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Visual Arts Program Thesis Exhibition. Both inspired and inspiring, the exhibition is a spectacular showcase featuring a collection of compelling works by the graduating Master of Fine Arts students. The disparate works represent an always exciting, often profound, and sometimes playful look at what some of the next generation of artists is challenging themselves to create today. A look that tells personal narratives, advocates on behalf of today’s and tomorrow’s ongoing issues, and pushes boundaries to the outer realms of possibility.

Video still by Talia Link
View of Talia Link’s exhibition (Photo by Rachel Stern)

The exhibition is taking place at the Fisher Landau Center for Art, which is housed in a former parachute harness factory in Queens. Created by Emily Fisher Landau to house her prize collection of artwork by contemporary masters, the Center is now hosting the exhibition for the seventh year in a row. Also this year, Columbia University’s School of the Arts marks the 50th Anniversary of its founding. Emily Fisher Landau had the enviable discernment to collect the artwork of now-renowned artists at the start of their prolific careers. She stated, “Young artists face a difficult situation – They must take concepts and methods of the past and combine them with emotions and perceptions of the present to create the art of the future.”

The choreography of the show, curated by Omar López-Chahoud, flows through the museum space with a sensitivity that gives each artist their own personal world to voice their perspective and allows for the surprise of the unexpected.

Some quotes from interviews with a few of the emerging talents not to miss:

Cristina Camacho: “In my paintings, I re-imagine the materiality of the canvas through the cut and juxtaposed layers. Through the deconstruction and construction of the piece, I create structural and spatial changes, where gravity, shadows, and color reflections evoke a physical and tactile experience.”

Promotional image for “I’m Making A Boy Band” by Bora Kim
Promotional photo for “I’m Making A Boy Band” by Bora Kim (Photo by Bora Kim)

Bora Kim: “I was interested in researching the phenomenon of the Korean Wave, and the commercial success of K-Pop especially, on a global scale. The I’m Making a Boy Band project aims to examine critical aspects of pop/business culture through the lens of an artist. I wanted to see what would happen if I made American boys into K-pop performers, by teaching them how to sing in Korean and act like Korean boys, and complicate this flow/appropriation even more, since I’m in New York, where so many talents are just one online recruitment ad away.”

Matthew Morrocco: “I seek to express an emotional sensibility that is at once sexual in nature, expansive in dimension, and self-affirming in politics. It is this, the unapologetic narcissism, emotional vulnerability, and dynamic self-effacement that we, the people I photograph and myself, invite you, the viewer, to take part.”

Exhibition setup of Talia Link’s bed (Photo by Rachel Stern)
Talia Link (left, in mirror) prepares for her exhibit (Photo by Rachel Stern)
In bed with Talia Link (Photo by Rachel Stern)

Talia Link: “I’m all about the mainstream. And, I like shiny stuff.” Take a big, comfy bed (either hers or yours at home) and combine it with an eponymously named YouTube channel and you’ve got an eye-opening experience that only Talia Link could create. Her always-content-driven channel is all about the conflicts of being a woman in a capitalistic era of publicized privacy. And about the unrealistic beauty standards with which women are constantly bombarded. Because “The amount of time an average woman spends on her appearance is the equivalent of getting an Ivy League Master’s degree. SERIOUSLY.”

As Shelly Silver, Chairperson, Columbia University School of the Arts’ Visual Arts Program stated, “A walk through the show is clear evidence that these unique artists are ready for the next phase of their lives… poised to make substantive and imaginative contributions to world culture.”

Viewing the exhibition is a fascinating and oft-times fun journey through digital media, drawing, installation, painting, performance, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video art. It’s an amazing way to come face-to-face with original artworks by extremely diverse artists early in their promising careers. In the words of graduating student Sam Cockrell, “Contemporary painting is a vampire, feasting from the bones torn off the corpse of history.” If that is what the art of the future is truly like, then, by all means, feast on.

The exhibition runs through May 18, 2015. For more info about the Exhibition, visit:

(Seated, l to r): Eric J. Davis enjoys the show with artist Talia Link in her exhibition bed. (Photo by Rachel Stern).
POV shot of Talia Link’s exhibit (Photo by Rachel Stern)

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