MFA show highlights interactive visual projects on mental health, sexual assault

A thesis in the form of an art exhibit is bound to capture your attention, so head on over to the William Benton Museum of Art if you want to interact with this year’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) exhibition for 2019. (Avery Bikerman/The Daily Campus)

A thesis in the form of an art exhibit is bound to capture your attention, so head on over to the William Benton Museum of Art if you want to interact with this year’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) exhibition for 2019. From April 6 to May 12, you can see the culminating works of graduate students in the Studio Art and Digital Media & Design Master of Fine Arts programs, which vary from interactive visuals on mental health to videos that visualize sculpture and creation.

“Footsteps: Movement Through Space” is the exhibition created by the first all-female cohort in the Digital Media & Design MFA program, “exploring conversations around architecture, sexual assault and mental illness,” Heather Elliot-Famularo, the Head of the Department of Digital Media & Design, said in the exhibition’s description.

“This exhibition is about connecting people, history and data to tell untold and under-represented stories through interactive installation, social media campaigns, digital analytics and online community-based websites,” Elliot-Famularo said. Their thesis projects combine digital aspects, such as websites with visitor interactivity and anonymous surveys.

“My exhibit is called ‘tailspin’ and was inspired by how people online talked about the movement against sexual misconduct and assault, or what is largely known as the #MeToo movement,” Jacqueline Prager Devine, MFA candidate in digital media and design, said. “I wanted to create a space that brought the digital world into an analog space by having made-up social media posts with prompts that were specific to research for people to contribute to.”

Devine’s exhibit features the aforementioned social media prompts on a wall lit by a warm pink light for people to anonymously write and post. The exhibit is meant to grow and for visitors to interact and share their thoughts and stories if they desire to do so.

“It grows everyday,” Devine commented. “I was just here yesterday and there was not this many responses, so it’s terrific that so many people are responding.”

Sylvia Mosiany’s “More than Just a Building: The Kenyatta International Convention Center” combines aspect of architecture to explore how representations of the titular building demonstrates its significance in Kenya. The project includes a web publication, a series of digital photographs of the building and oral histories that Mosiany collected in Kenya as part of her research. With multiple monitors with video and audio, the project appears clean-cut and laden with bold visuals.

Cat Boyce’s “Color the Conversation” piece encourages visitors to engage with her exhibit about mental illness with an anonymous survey and colorful graph that has you answer based on your demographic identities. Visitors are invited to share their personal experiences, and the exhibit features anonymous handwritten confessions from people who experience or have experienced mental illness.

“It creates both online and physical spaces that build a community, simultaneously gathering data through an in-person, interactive installation and an online Qualtrics survey,” the description reads. “The online and in-person data is then used to draw correlations and measure the impact on and relationship between social media and mental illness.”

Studio art MFA candidates Jeanne Ciravolo, Melanie Klimjack, Luke Seward and River Soma contributed to a group exhibition titled “Muscle Memory.”

“This exhibition animates our studies of the body as performed through collection, accumulation, gesture and assemblage,” the description for the exhibition reads. “By means of painting, sculpture and video, each artist extends their approach, arriving at a delivery that is both in and of body.”

Their exhibit presents interesting visuals and videos, as the artists themselves use their bodies as part of their work to create a dynamic and bold visual experience.

“Here, each student presents a refined variation on the themes they have challenged in-depth over three years, shaded by past efforts with hints of future directions,” UConn professors of art Janet L. Pritchard and Judith Thorpe, said.

Be sure to support these talented artists and admire all the work they’ve put into the program and their projects!


Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.