The Persistence of Memory, PAFA MFA 2016


“The Persistence of Memory”
PAFA MFA 2016 program
Dee Glazer, Travis Grant, Alex Hansen, Abby Irwin, Jennifer Jones, Kenneth Nicholson, David Pettengill, Kimi Pryor, Juan Pablo Ruiz, and Laura Thistle.
June 9 – July 3, 2016

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

The Persistence of Memory features the work of ten graduates of the 2016 MFA class at PAFA. The artists and title were chosen by Jane Kim, owner of 33 Orchard after she visited over 20 studios at PAFA to select work. The show represents the diverse range of approaches at play in the interdisciplinary graduate program, where painting, photography, sculpture, video, and everything in between thrive side by side.

While the work in the exhibition shares little in regards to style, the artists appear to be driven by common preoccupations that are reflected in the show’s title. Much of the work has the quality of things not present or not directly at hand. There is a sense of conjuring or reaching out for that which is lost or not readily contained. There exists a strong persistence of search if not of memory.

The photographs of Laura Thistle and Abigail Irwin most directly evoke this trace, through images that point to blurred edges, past lives and distant experiences. Jennifer Jones finds similar terrain in her mixed media painting that captures a topographical impression, an imprint of a past encounter. The figure in Juan Pablo Ruiz’s painting, The Moment, literally reaches out, while peeling paint in the background records a different kind of time. Travis Grant and Dave Pettengill revive and reconfigure materials that have had past lives, while Dee Glazer and Kimi Pryor offer gestural portals to a psychic realm. In a twist that furthers the connections between artists, Alex Hansen’s video, If I Knew It Was Going to be That Kind of Party, includes a pan through the studio of Kenneth Nicholson, whose chunky paintings are echoed by his palette and are seemingly eaten by metastasizing crusts of earthy paint.

Having just shared an intensive two-year experience, these artists both challenged and supported one another. They came from different places and different points of view and grew and developed together. 33 Orchard, with its collaborative model of shared space and shared experience, is an ideal venue for these artists to exhibit as they are leaving school. It’s a reminder that the collective spirit they shared in graduate school is just the beginning.

The Persistence of Memory will be on view at 33 Orchard from June 9-July 3, 2016, with an opening reception on June 10, 6-8 p.m.

Written by Clint Jukkala

May 26, 2016