The Department of Art & Art History presents Unbound, the 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition, on view July 19 through August 19 at the Stanford Art Gallery. Join us for the opening reception on Thursday, July 21, 5–7 pm.
Unbound is a unique exhibit in more ways than one. It features work created by graduate students who, in the Spring of 2020, intended to show their art as the culminating project of the educational trajectory they were about to complete at Stanford. Then the onset of COVID-19 cast a cloud of uncertainty over every aspect of life as we knew it. The pandemic indefinitely suspended the show, leaving everybody to grapple with an unprecedentedly strange and insecure existence, precarious future prospects, and the experience of unfinished journeys.
More than two years later, it gives me tremendous pleasure to welcome these accomplished artists back to Stanford to fulfill our promise of honoring them with an inevitably overdue celebration and exhibition of their work. I am proud to observe that they have explored the limitations and crises of the intervening time as an opportunity to further explore the development of their concepts in unexpected directions, flesh out the often challenging process and confined practice of experimenting with materials, and, ulitmately, question the very nature of their role as artists in a brave new world.
Accordingly, this may well be the most 'distilled' graduate exhibit we have hosted to date. The work on display attests not only to this group's openness, resilience and adaptibility, but also, and perhaps most importantly, to the continuity of a conversation started years ago, and to the profound sense of community they have maintained both among themselves and with their faculty instructors and mentors. We strive toward cultivating a lifelong connection with our alumni, and the return to Stanford of these graduates on the occasion of their deferred show demonstrates the glorious reality of such a relationship.
As a title, Unbound calls forth numerous connotations, but its one core meaning that most speaks to the imagination is freedom -- freedom of movement, of expression, of invention, of faith, of being. We ought to know better than ever before that we cannot take liberties with freedom, because in many ways, under a shifting world order, we feel terribly vulnerable. These bodies of work manifest our shared vulnerability in detailed, nuanced, personal and powerful ways through the indomitable spirit of six individuals who offer us their vision of embracing and overcoming adversity through art.
Curated by Jonathan Calm