MICA students assemble an impressive showcase

By SARAH SCHREIB | March 29, 2018

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MICA hosted the second of their three Grad Shows this past Saturday .

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Grad Show 2018 II held its opening reception on Saturday, March 24, at the MICA campus. The show is the second of three for the Spring/Summer season of 2018, which will feature the work of a total of more than 150 graduate students. 

The first show, which focused on their Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching, premiered on February 23. According to the school’s website, the work exhibited in the three shows is designed to “demonstrate the power and possibility of contemporary art and design.” 

The current exhibits that premiered this Saturday include work from students in the Graphic Design Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Illustration Practice MFA, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Art and the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Graphic Design. Each concentration is housed in a different gallery. 

The work of Graphic Design students is currently in the center of the MICA campus in the Fox Building of West Mount Royal Avenue. Their designs displayed a range of skills and interests, from technological innovation to consumer culture to class inequalities. 

Exploring the state of income inequality in the city of Baltimore, Aurora Colón premiered her project titled Not Created Equal. The exhibit visually broke down income levels based on markers such as the poverty line, the Baltimore median income and the Maryland median income. Next to each marker, Colón placed images of the type of housing available, the kind of food accessible and a variety of other socioeconomic factors. 

A majority of the exhibits included an audiovisual or interactive element. Annie Kao’s Anytwo, a large booklet designed to connect two people through “humorous instruction,” included a video of different pairs engaging with the book.

Chase Body’s Future Perfect Tense, which explores the relationship between human beings and artificial intelligence, provided gallery-goers with the opportunity to communicate with an AI program that Body had programed. In the description of his exhibit, Body elaborated on the purpose of his work.

“FPT explores how AI might be an extension of ourselves, and how we might consider valuing their existence in our near future,” he wrote.

Vishnu Venugopal presented a prototype for an “inclusive smartwatch” designed to accommodate those with visual impairments. The smartwatch, named Toggle, includes three modes — braille, alpha and screen — that provide full sensory access to the user. The exhibit included a functioning version of the product, with mechanical braille surfacing in the form of a series of holes on its face. 

MFA students Junyi Shan and Zejun Wang produced Octopus, a large, plushy “napping pillow” designed to make naps a social activity. They claim that the multisided octopus offers a multisensory experience that includes texture, scent, ocean sounds and light. People of all ages laid on the pillow in the gallery. 

Many of the exhibits included small items like metal pins that could be collected by viewers of the gallery. One such exhibit was Jenna Klein’s Spiced Design Ham, which distributed pins with an image of SPAM, the congealed meat product at the center of her work. The description of her exhibit related art and the highly controversial meat.

“Spiced Design Ham challenges how we define ‘good’ design so that we may begin to embrace the canned materials of design... Like design, SPAM is for anyone but certainly not for everyone,” she wrote. 

Attendees of the reception in the Fox Building ranged in age and affiliation: Students, parents, community members and young children wandered around all areas of the gallery. Both older adults and young children engaged with the videos and interactive elements.

The current show will be on view in the various galleries until April 8. The third show in the series, which will feature students of electronic media, painting and sculpture among others, will begin on April 13. Other upcoming events featuring the work of MICA grad students include a Filmmaking MFA Screening on April 10 and an interactive event surrounding the MA in Social Design on April 23. 

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