The big payoff

MFA candidates finally get a chance to show the rest of us what they’ve been up to.

Katrina Wilber

College students are generally hip, cool and cutting edge, and that’s especially so for these eight graduate students.

The Master of Fine Arts exhibitions now showing at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery are the culmination of years of hard work that these students have put into their passion.

Allen Peterson’s “Terrain” is a cast-iron, wall-to-wall sculpture. Hundreds of small hexagons with parts of swirled lines cover the floor in such a way that to switch two tiles would disrupt the entire scene. Some tiles even begin to climb the wall that slides out to meet them.

It wouldn’t be a true terrain if it was flat on the floor. The piece rises and falls on itself, and the tiles clink against each other when someone walks through. You don’t get a chance to walk across a piece of art and make music at the same time very often.

The media in the exhibit are as varied as the subjects of the pieces. Photographs mingle with cast iron and clay; sandpaper and duct tape jostle for position with fabric and paints.

In an age of fast-food restaurants on every corner and microwaveable dinners, “Recipe Box Collection” by Liz Zlot is a nostalgic series of a baker’s dozen recipe boxes. Each ceramic-looking box sits on its own shelf, and a recipe is taped to the wall beside each one. The last box sits atop a three-shelf unit with three neatly folded aprons on the second shelf. The bottom shelf holds a series of cookbooks – everything from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls” to one about how to steal a man’s heart with your cooking.

Most of the recipes are older – the kind you might find in your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen. Some are scribbled on a plain index card while others have pretty pictures and “From the kitchen of -” printed on them.

Trever Nicholas takes ordinary objects to extraordinary levels in “Synergy.” A line of bright orange earplugs pokes out from a wall and another one brightens up a section of the floor. There is a bunch of neon-green earplugs pushed through a mesh screen of sorts that looks like a nice cushy bathmat or rug.

Balloons filled with something other than air hang from pieces of colored yarn. Much of the space is taken up by suspended sections of interlocking blue plastic things – the ones that, once the end is pushed through the locking part, you need a scissor to get apart.

The whole piece is bright, colorful and surprising, but it stops just before it becomes a sensory overload.

The exhibit showcases the best of the best and makes us all wish we could major in something as cool as this.