For Larry Rinder, curator for contemporary art at the University Art
Museum/Pacific Film Archive, putting together an exhibition of work by
graduating Master of Fine Arts students is a tough job that's well worth the
The 26th annual MFA exhibition at the UAM/PFA opens May 18, with painting, sculpture and mixed media by seven artists.
"In some cases, it is a challenging show," said Rinder. "The works are diverse, and it takes some tricks and lightness of touch so that it all hangs together."
Works include Aida Gamez's mixed-media pieces, which evoke the history of pre-Columbian culture in the Americas. Chadwick Gray selected paintings by lesser-known, pre-20th century artists to have reproduced on his body by collaborator Laura Spector.
Sonja Henderson's untitled mixed media piece tries to "create an environment to be both experienced and remembered." Robin McDonnell arranges small, monochrome paintings into groupings based on her breathing patterns.
The abstract sculptures of Carla Paganelli are largely based on parts of the body or items of clothing.
Using altered family photographs, Lori Newman creates mixed media sculptures that interweave family history, the Holocaust and Jewish mysticism. Stephanie Peek attempts to "create a space that excites reverie, stimulates introspection and evokes longing" in her oil paintings.
Before the exhibit, Rinder arranges studio visits with the artists. "We'll talk about the work and together come up with a plan. It is an exhibition that every student is entitled to select work for, and I tend to give them a bit more say in what they exhibit," said Rinder, who worked in Minneapolis and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before coming to Berkeley seven years ago.
During his tenure here, Rinder said students' works have gotten better every year. "It's extremely high quality work," he said. "Given that Berkeley is not an art school, we are a notch above what I've seen coming out of traditional art schools in the area.
"The wealth of humanities and science courses students at Berkeley take--art is not separate from other fields of inquiry--is reflected in the art. There is a more humanistic depth in their work."
The MFA exhibition runs through June 23 in two galleries at the UAM/PFA. On May 23 at noon, student artists will talk about their featured work. For more information, call 642-2358.