Tag: Disjecta

2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition "Speaking Between" at Portland's Disjecta May 4-26

Taking A Place in Front of the Public Eye:
2013 MFA Work at Disjecta in Portland

Work by Sarah Nance.

Disjecta is a space where one almost has come to expect a certain élan to the work exhibited.  It is a place where a stage of discussion and dialogue is consistently and comfortably set; where the democracy of exhibit, the inspiration of collaboration, and the articulation of idea is given a sphere accessible to public exploration and appreciation.  The exhibitions at Disjecta find a realness to their communication delivering works of art to the public with an understanding of the requisite of flow and of quiet observation.

Into this healthy environment of engagement, the 2013 MFA candidates brought the work that would bind them forever to the award of their Master of Fine Arts degree, the exhibition Speaking Between.  Mirroring the global focus of the Art Department faculty who are internationally exhibited artists, and complementing the extensive and consistent outreach of the program, which brings internationally recognized artists to the Eugene campus to work directly with the students, the Portland exhibition engages with Oregon’s most globally-recognized metropolis.

Choosing to collaborate with Disjecta for this exhibition and hosting a public reception, the UO Department of Art faculty delivered the student work to a place well-recognized and highly respected in the Portland art context.  Disjecta offered a gallery where the MFA students would be thrust into the saturated world of experienced gallerists and the well-trained eye of some of Portland’s most highly respected curators and critics, not to mention a public that dearly loves its art exhibits.

Oregon ArtsWatch writer, Patrick Collier, explained the relevance of the MFA exhibit and exposing the student work to a new community:

In many ways, MFA candidates find themselves between two worlds. As students they are engaged in a somewhat closed dialogue with their mentors while at the same time they are trying to develop their own voice.  Having seen very many graduating MFA exhibits over the last twenty years, I can often tell when that conversation favors the teacher’s way of approaching the world more than how the young artist has begun to interpret it.  The diversity of work and level of sophistication presented in “Speaking Between” suggests that UO’s Art Department faculty has sufficiently prepared their students for the next step in their education, which is to make art on their own and thereby continue the conversation with a larger audience.  After all, this is the purpose of such a show, to introduce these students to their new community.

As Collier notes, “[introducing] these students to their new community”  has benefits that far surpass the immediate — effectively catapulting the newly anointed artist into the world at large.  Such opportunities for exchange and recognition are greatly appreciated by the students.  Wendi Michelle Turchan comments,

I was very excited about having the show at Disjecta in Portland.  It was a great opportunity to have larger visibility for my work and I thought the turnout at the opening was amazing.  It was a great chance to meet new people and talk with them about myself and my work.

Wendi Michelle Turchan

Student Ian Clark remarks,

[Showing] our work in a space like Disjecta is wonderful.  It is a beautiful space, and it has garned a reputation for organizing interesting shows.  Portland itself is becoming more and more recognized as a legitimate place for artists to live and work, so it’s nice to be a part of that. . . .

Ian Clark

Responsive to the occasion was also student, Meg Branlund, confirming:

Having the opportunity to exhibit our thesis work in Portland has been amazing.  Being in the small community of Eugene for the last three years, I constantly find myself making the trek up to Portland to be able to see and experience facets of the larger Northwest art scene, things like TBA, lectures at Reed College, and gallery and museum exhibitions.  So, to be able to show work directly within this community at Disjecta is something that is great for the visibility of the MFA program overall, and for us as individual artists.  It feels like I am able to participate in, and contribute to the greater Oregon art scene, and that feels great….to know that my work reaches a larger audience than it would had the exhibition been held in Eugene.

Gallerist Jane Bebee of PDXContemporary tours the exhibition.

The audience that was privy to the unveiling of this MFA work at Disjecta was, itself, quite noteworthy.  Disjecta is warmly embraced, salon-like by the blissfully dernier cri art and cultural partisans of the region and has a sort of vanguardesque following of Portland’s vibrantly artistically active and aware. Along with this is the casual observation that Disjecta is clearly beloved by a youthful urbane population which always helps to solidify an invaluable bohemian-like sophistication let alone reverence.  Not only is the venue sort of an “it” place for art seekers and voyeurs of the creative, it is, of course, frequented by some of the regions most respected gallerists and curators.   The May 3rd opening was no exception as the MFA exhibitors conversed with attendees such as Jane Bebee of PDX Contemporary and Daniel Peabody director of Elizabeth Leach Gallery, among others.

An audience.

Student Meg Branlund describes the opening reception and the audience at Disjecta:

It was an overwhelming experience, in the best way.  Between the preview reception for friends and family, and the public reception . . . I enjoyed every minute.  It was great to see the breadth of visitors at the opening, being able to interact with people from the University, Eugene and Portland art communities that I recognized, and having the opportunity to meet new people and chat about the work and the exhibition overall was great.  It really was a perfect evening to enjoy what felt like the culminating event of my career as a Masters candidate.

As the show nears its May 26th closing date, and the Master of Fine Arts candidates complete their final days in the graduate program, the sense of having successfully introduced this group to a receptive audience and a welcoming community exhales with a quiet breath of accomplishment.  As MFA candidate Clark explains, “The Department of Art offers tremendous support for us, not only during the process of organizing this exhibition, but during our entire time in the program.  It’s really a great place and the people here are incredible.”  It has been a good, a very good, few years.

Taking the work and the experience, or considering “the entire time in the program,” Oregon Artswatch Collier profoundly informs us that

Being an artist first requires that one is paying close attention to the world at large and this includes the recent history of art that we would call “contemporary.”  What one does with that information is what distinguishes one artist from another.

Indeed, if we are to believe Camille Paglia (“How Capitalism Can Save Art”) part of the salvation, or rather the success of up and coming artists lies in a keenly developed understanding and ability to work within the confines and liberties afforded by a capitalistic, market-oriented society.  Paglia confronts us with the query, “Does art have a future” and progresses to “What do contemporary artists have to say and to whom are they saying it?”  Lamenting that “too many artists have lost touch with the general audience and have retreated to an airless echo chamber,” we begin to understand the dynamic and even greater importance of bringing our students out into the world, of delivering them into a place where they can reach an audience, and not “retreat into an airless echo chamber,” but as Collier so aptly pronounced, a place where they can “[pay] close attention.”

With a rather bitter assessment of the young artists emerging today, Paglia might seem to damn the new generations with her comments,

Young people today are avidly immersed in this hyper-technological environment, where their primary aesthetic experiences are derived from beautifully engineered industrial design. Personalized hand-held devices are their letters, diaries, telephones and newspapers, as well as their round-the-clock conduits for music, videos and movies. But there is no spiritual dimension to an iPhone, as there is to great works of art.

Without misplaced hubris, the “Speaking Between” work exhibited at the MFA exhibition confidently seems to translate beyond this condemnation.  From the onyx-y dust and flake-like whispers of Meg Branlund’s photographic ash to the azure brilliance of Turchan’s oil-on-paper to the Buddhist inspiration of Nance’s work, we can find a thread of depth that might allude to Paglia’s plea for spirituality.  These are individuals who are exploring their universe using means other than just the purely technological:  look at Robert Collier Beam’s and Katherine Rondina’s silver gelatin prints; or Emily Crabtree’s swirling surfaces of oil, Aubrey Hillman’s gleaming hardware and mythical constructed elements. Even the videos here are revealing examinations of human experience and psychological conditions, see work by Lenoir, Clark and Kaiser.  And, as one can’t help but wonder about the heights reached by Katherine Spinella and her fascination for the disgarded and the repurposed; or be motivated to scrutinize Morgan Rosskopf’s cultural concoctions, we find a plethora of exploration.  Even Collier lauds the work and singles out that of Meg Branlund and Micheal Stephen, (“I am always on the look out for stand-outs, whether it be a new or seasoned artist, and I do so within the fringes of the territory that is my own aesthetic taste and narrative….”):  and boldly proclaims, “This year it is Meg Branlund for her phenomenological investigation of photography and Michael Stephen for his stunning command of the space allotted him in the gallery;” we are invited into a place where these emerging creatives present to us something meaningful, mindful, observant of their world.

The 2013 MFA artists, carefully taught and guided by the outstanding efforts of the faculty of the UO Department of Art seem to be propelled beyond the dismal prediction of Paglia’s.  May we be honored to say that perhaps the introduction of their work into the capitalist metropolis of the city of Portland and their time in Eugene, both places rife with lucrative and successful galleries, bursting with all aspects of a society complete with those able to purchase and those able to look and, without a doubt, those willing and able to appreciate, to curate, to critique, to write and to report—our region is rich in offering opportunity for integration and recognition.  It is with opportunity and exposure that exhibitions like this at Disjecta will assist in encouraging our graduates into a marketplace where to be a part of an economy and to live in and contribute to that market will play a key role in their assimilation into the art world.  Perhaps in some significant way with the “UO’s Art Department faculty [who have] sufficiently prepared their students for the next step in their education, which is to make art on their own and thereby continue the conversation with a larger audience. . . .” (P Collier) will with the carefully planned introduction of the student work to Northwest audiences spawn many experiences for these MFA candidates in a marketplace, and in an arts-loving region.

And that is, certainly, art and artists with a future.

View images at the finish of this blog post and from the opening reception of Speaking Between, on Facebook.

The 2013 MFA Students are,

Robert Collier Beam

Meg Branlund

Ian Clark

Emily Crabtree

Aubrey Hillman

Nika Kaiser

Ben Lenoir

Sarah Nance

Katherine Rondina

Morgan Rosskopf

Katherine D. Spinella

Michael Stephen

Wendi Michelle Turchan

Katherine Rondina
Meg Branlund
Morgan Rosskopf
Nika Kaiser
Sarah Nance
Emily Crabtree
Ben Lenoir
Robert Collier Beam
Katherine Spinella
Michael Stephen
Aubrey Hillman


Patrick Collier

Oregon Artswatch


UO Department of Art

Tannaz Farsi Exhibits at Disjecta | "Losing Themselves in a Distance to Far Away Heights"

Tannaz Farsi is an assistant professor in sculpture at the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts.  Her recent exhibition, “Losing Themselves in a Distance to Far Away Heights” opened October 8, 2011 at Portland’s Disjecta Interdisciplinary Art Center.  The show is on exhibit until November 5, 2011 at Disjecta,  8371 North Interstate, Portland, Oregon.

Plans to show Farsi’s work had been announced in January 2011 when Disjecta’s curator-in-residence, Jenene Nagy detailed her goal to present  “risky, challenging work not usually found in mainstream museums or commercial galleries” with the selection of five West Coast artists.   Nagy’s curatorial intent was to inspire regional conversation around contemporary art.  The five artists Nagy selected show an immersion in the concerns and language of the contemporary art world.

“Losing Themselves in a Distance to Far Away Heights” is Tannaz Farsi’s first solo exhibition in Portland.  In the exhibit, Farsi addresses “what does it mean to live the dream?” from the Iranian, Canadian-Iranian, and Iranian-American perspective.  Farsi asked her correspondants what it means to live the dream, their nationality, ethnicity and country of residence in hopes that something could be articulated through their answers that would address ideas of nationalism and cultural identity.   Farsi also thinks that the idea of the American dream is complex; one marked by consumer culture, ideals of morality and normalcy, and the other of freedom to exist without constant state surveillance and yet another of component of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream ( a speech Farsi references in this work).  She says,  “Part of the lore surrounding the King speech is that Mahalia Jackson shouted out: ‘Martin, tell them about our dream.’  And, that part of his famous speech organically grew out of this request. I wanted to more show the dream’s complexity as well as the complexity of ethnicity and illuminate the fact that most of the people that have left Iran in the past 33 years fall under the category of exile or refugee.”

Farsi, herself an Iranian-American, conducted conversations via email with friends, relatives, and connections she was given by friends and family to individuals unrelated to her.

“The soul of that life is still with me…”–Gmail excerpt from Keyvan Mahjoor, Canada

A portion of Farsi’s exhibit is her record of communication, via gmail, with Iranians, Canadian-Iranians, and Iranian-Americans and their responses to her query:  “what is ‘living the dream according to you'”?  The Persian responses have been printed on large paper, the emails preserved in their original gmail form displayed poster size and hung side-by-side.  Some emails are still in their native script beautifully left untranslated.  One email is accompained by an image and words of the artist proclaiming, “I paint my dream and I live my dreams….” (Gmail excerpt from artist, Keyvan Mahjoor, Canada)  The viewer is impressed by the simple eloquence of the writing:   “the soul of that life is still with me….” and, “living my dreams means society respect me, my love, my privacy, and my need of freedom.” (Gmail excerpt from Shohreh Entekhabi.)  Farsi says she was also using the gmail “to capture another form of tracking–to see what advertising suggestions would pop up in response to individual conversations.”

Tannaz Farsi seems to have a fascination for the relationship of objects as conflicting forces.  That intrigue is well represented in “Losing Themselves….”    The exhibit provides a compass directing us to gain a certain comfort in visually recognizable poem-like  text that has been coupled with an elegant architectural and sculptural vastness occupying  the reservoir-like space of Disjecta.  Our vision of both the textual component juxtaposed with the structural staging reassures us with the familiar and challenges us with the unexpected.

“Living the Dream”

Farsi’s significant built  installation curves and undulates in perfectly crafted cursive English words, so gentle and flowing in form yet the surface denies this soft delicacy with a tactile bite at once gritty, harsh and starless black.  Farsi compels us to question the dicotomy of this pairing:  it provides an attainable understanding with words and language we are familiar with and then snatches it away with a vastness and a jumbled complexity that leaves one struggling.   Even the framework here, painted a gilt gold, is linguistically scaffold-like:  how would one begin to surmount such skeletal casements?  The shadows cast by this piece are just as entrancing from the front as from the back lending a voice to this persuasive sense of aching yearning, boundless struggle, and disappointment.  It is a graceful statement of contemporary Iranian cultural experience.

The materials Farsi blends into her work are similar to memories echoing the very same sentiments her emails project to us:  that which both represents the tension and binds felt by a refugee or an immigrant and the sense of lives left behind in a culture felt tangled in a civic and devotional experience.

Farsi adds: “[The pieces] are a scaled version of the kaaba and the colors of the letters and the cuboid are taken from the black and gold dictated by this structure.  I was curious as to why this structure was covered, why it is a black cloth and the ritualistic associations to historical events.  I came across the idea that this structure probably started as a tent with layers of cloth and I really loved what this would conjure.  I was also interested in the actual site of mecca as one of the most privatized public spaces that exists today. ”

Concrete blocks, a tied ribbon-like tape, pipe, wood, paper, colors of gold and black taken as a direct reference to the kaaba—all adds to a sense of a culture left behind, an experience at once banal and yet quietly affording a glimpse through a portal to life “in a distance far away…”




post and photos  |   sabina samiee

MFA 2011 Exhibition at Disjecta | Momentary Interruption

Emerging from three years of intensive studio work, the 2011 University of Oregon Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition presents compelling bodies of work from nine artists on the cusp of their professional careers, equipped for the ongoing challenges and rewards of an art practice.  The range of work reflects diverse and engaged responses to the contemporary context.  Drawing on a rich history of visual language and material practice, they are forging their own paths and cultivating new approaches.

A thesis exhibition is not an end, but rather a ‘Momentary Interruption’ that marks the beginning of a sustained and evolving future practice.

The Exhibit runs from May 7-29, 2011

at Disjecta, 8371 North Interstate Avenue, Portland, Oregon  97217, 503-286-9449

Gallery hours are Friday – Sunday, noon to 6p.m. and by appointment.

This Exhibition is a presentation of the University of Oregon Department of Art and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts to show the work of nine master of fine arts graduate students in art.

Thank you to the following sponsors for their generous support:  the Ballinger family in memory of Court Ballinger, Geraldine Leiman, the UO Duck Store, Gamblin Artist Oil Colors, and the UO Alumni Association.


Paige Ammon

b.  Meridian, Mississippi

“Through the transformation of the material and structure of stuffed animals, my sculptures evoke new associations from these familiar objects.  The shift in form of the plush toy generates complication and uncertainty of intent, challenging our expectation of simplicity or innocence from these childhood symbols.”

Clarity Bear | Vinyl, Hot Glue, Foam, Stuffed Animal


Julie Berkbuegler-Poremba

b.  Perryville, Missouri

“I am a visual hunter-gatherer.  My process requires observation and collection of images from popular media’s representation of luxury culture and high fashion.  The investigation of the media’s visual language of femininity, sexuality, and beauty motivate my processes.  I re-appropriate, reuse, and re-interpret that material and construct new images and objects.  My work seeks to reconcile personal and cultural understanding of traditional ideals of beauty, privilege, class and the plethora of female imagery present in contemporary visual culture.”

Gold Digger | Antique Frame, House Paint, Spray Paint, Tool Dip, Table Top Lacquer


Allison Hyde

b.  Tacoma, Washington

“The scratches on the floor where the dog used to lay, the touch of a certain red knit sweater that recalls the warm caress of my grandmother’s hands–these signifiers of memory and experience are at the core of my recent work.  Using prints, photographs, found objects and installation spaces, I explore ideas of memory, identity, and intimacy, including the beautiful failure that accompanies our desire to preserve one’s identity through the realm of time.”

A Faint Echo | Serigraphs with india ink and charcoal, Iterations of Presence | Relief Prints on paper


Lindsay Jones

b.  Lee’s Summit, Missouri

“My work is about my relationships with places, spaces, and landscapes. My imagery is motivated by my longing to return to places, my travel between places, the acceptance of my present place and my projections of ideas about places I want to be.  These relationships inform the visual language of my work.”

Unpossessed Places | Assembled found, discarded and bought materials
Lindsay Jones | Purple Mountain Majesty


Adrianne Martin

b.  Indianapolis, Indiana

“Through photographic imagery, my work examines various social narratives that emerge from the production of inexpensive ceramic animal figurines.  My questions revolve around ways that the transformation from three-dimensional object to that of the photograph can change ones’ perceptual and conceptual basis for viewing these animal forms and their gestures.  Within this role as artist, I can manipulate the bashful into submissive, the playful into erotic.”

Undisclosed Location, Digital Prints #1, #2, #3


Peter Pazderski

b.  Chicago, Illinois

“Like many people today, I spend a lot of time existing within the virtual spaces of video games and social networks.  My artwork has become a cathartic means of exorcising my own addictive tendencies to technology.  Within my current installation work, Me Mario, I am exploring the collision of physical and virtual space, the value we place on digital objects, and our current cultural addiction to technology.”

Decimate Modifier a tool for reducing high definition objects to be rendered in real-time without losing detail
An 11-year-old boy wanders into the Decimate Modifier….


Jessica Robinson

b.  Cashmere, Washington

“My work considers the deterioration of language through contemporary technology and the parallel disintegration of an identity through popular love songs.  Through the process of technological transcription and personal translation, I create video, audio, and performance works that visually and audibly illustrate miscommunication and misinterpretation by exploring love lyrics: written, spoken, and sung.”

Hopelessly Devoted: Olivia Newton-John: Key of E | Documented Performance, Video, Audio


Sonia R. Sinton

b.  Palo Alto, California

“My work explores the personalities of inanimate objects.  Currently, I focus on barrettes and scrunchies and their cousins, bungee cords and clamps.  Their kinship in terms of materials, design, and function, reveals they are doppelgangers in parallel gender universes.  The interaction of hair tools, hardware tools, and their companion objects, lumber and steel, creates a playful mix of fragility, grace, utilitarianism, and strength, recalling youth and infinite possibilities.”

Spirit | Steel, Cement, Pigment, Glitter


Josh Wardle

b.  Abergavenny, Wales, United Kingdom

“My work explores the role of language in ascribing a structured system of meaning to the world, one that presents itself as both unified and absolute.  This document, its contents, and these words are one example of such a system.”

The Center Cannot Hold | Processing Alphabet

The Center Cannot Hold


More Images….

Adrianne Martin | Wide Open #1, #2, #3

Sonia R. Sinton | Endeavor
Julie Berkbuegler-Poremba | Mr. Right Now

Sonia R. Sinton | Endeavor (detail)

Sonia R. Sinton | Spirit (detail)

Paige Ammon | What Goes in Must Come Out
Jessica Robinson | various video installations

Allison Hyde | History Reflected

Allison Hyde | History Reflected (detail)

Allison Hyde | What Remains

Allison Hyde | Mourning the Ephemeral

Allison Hyde | What Remains (detail)

text | the Department of Art Momentary Interruption exhibit catalogue

comments | the mfa students themselves

photos | sabina samiee