MCAD’s finest @ The Soap Factory

The St. Anthony Main artist haunt exhibits graduating MFA students this weekend.

MFA graduate Virginia Maki brought her drawing station, her car, right into the gallery.

MFA graduate Virginia Maki brought her drawing station, her car, right into the gallery. PHOTO COURTESY VIRGINIA MAKI

John Sand

Minneapolis College of Art and Design: Graduating MFA Exhibition WHERE: The Soap Factory, 2501 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls. WHEN: April 30 – May 16 The Minneapolis College of Art and Design is an energy tank for our local art scene, churning out local celebrities like Ruby Isle frontman Mark Mallman and renowned photographer Paul Shambroom. The expansive Master of Fine Arts program uses a mentor-based technique that allows artists to narrow their focus on everything from Comic Art to Interactive Media. The two-year program is celebrating the graduation of the 2010 MFAs this year with an exhibition at St. Anthony MainâÄôs Soap Factory. As to be expected coming from so many different media, there is no unifying thesis in the exhibition, but MFA graduate John Bell says there are exhibitors that fit together thematically. âÄúThere are a handful of people that can dissolve independently or dependently,âÄù said Bell, âÄúThere is no overarching theme, but there are small pockets of interests.âÄù These pockets range from students interested in design as it corresponds with fine art to artists that work exclusively with the banal. Bell cited himself as a member of the natural art collective of the MFA group. He works mostly with paint to create chimera-like animals. âÄúI avoid specific animals,âÄù said Bell, âÄúItâÄôs about disembodied textures and impressions rather than specific nouns. ItâÄôs about the idea of fur, translucent plant matter or scales.âÄù Instead of nailing down animals taxidermy-style, Bell works with motion and blurring to, as he says, âÄúview animals as verbs, rather than as nouns.âÄù Also in this group of natural artists is Ginny Maki, a conceptual artist who works with the exploration of geopolitical space. She wants to work with the relationship of people to places, rather than of people to each other. Drawing on her intimate connection to the concept of home, Maki worked with Iron County in Wisconsin , where she grew up. âÄúIt was a territory that I was familiar with,âÄù she said, âÄúbut a county itself is a strange boundary.âÄù Her work for the exhibition will be displayed on her 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit, which she wheeled into the gallery. The project, called âÄúThe Iron County Field Explorer,âÄù retains her vehicular drawing space as its centerpiece. These MFA students have worked closely with each other for two full years and have developed a sense of community and artist awareness. Though the next steps for the graduates are uncertain, several of them already have other upcoming solo or group exhibitions to propel them forward into the rich artistsâÄô sphere in the Twin Cities.