BFA graduates host event exploring the best visual art UMN has to offer

The exhibition runs through the 13th.

Joe Cristo

The University of Minnesota art department will host a program May 5 to celebrate its newest exhibit, “Message Pending.”

The exhibition, which runs through the 13th, will show work from 25 University Bachelor of Fine Arts students about to complete their degrees. The group of students is highly selective, and each member plans to continue work in the arts after graduation.

Simply graduating doesn’t secure students a spot, and the quality restrictions are high.

“Outstanding candidates are reviewed by a panel of art faculty from a variety of media areas,” said Curatorial Assistant Teréz Iacovino. “Acceptance is based on the quality of the artwork submitted and the students’ potential for artistic development.”

Students involved are studying painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography and moving images. While most work across disciplines, almost all the work featured is visual.

Visual art, while still relegated to museums and exhibition rooms, has been making a comeback in a time of technological exploration.

“Human beings are visual creatures, and so being able to communicate with whole groups of people on a strictly visual level is a powerful thing,” said photography senior Jordan Steger.

While visual art can be pegged as a monolith, it is important to note the massive differences between disciplines within the overarching medium.

“I can’t speak to visual art as a whole, but sculpture has a feeling in both the making and the viewing that lets you explore three-dimensional space in ways other mediums don’t,” said University sculpture and ceramics senior Trevor Spriggs. “Being freed from a wall or screen gives you a different relationship to a viewer that opens up new dialogues and aesthetic moments in a way that I deeply love.”

Artists rarely spend time away from their work. With BFA students, this expectation is amplified. Students spend hundreds of hours honing their forms.

“The short of it is that art education connects students to the world around them,” Steger said. “Having a course or a program that supports this creative outlet does more for the students in the program and the community at large than one might think from the outside looking in. It has the capacity to make change, and change is invaluable to the people that have the opportunity to experience it.”

Steger’s piece on display is titled “Everyone’s a Photographer.” She compiled the work of average artists she knows into one cohesive piece that demonstrates the immense availability of cameras and photography today.

“I have a lot of questions about what it means to be a photographer in a world where nearly everyone operates a camera in some capacity,” she said.

The line between professional and amateur artists is blurring. Anyone can create art, but BFA graduates have thought about and planned their work to an almost obsessive degree. For some, a rigid work schedule brings out their best.

While art school can offer an appropriate structure for creators, simply getting out and doing the work is half the battle.

“You don’t necessarily have to take a class, but having assignments is a pretty good excuse to be making work,” Steger said. “And having a class of peers and a professional instructor to offer feedback during critique can really help with finding direction and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything.”

What: “Message Pending” public program
When: May 5, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Regis Center For Art, 405 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis

How much: Free