‘Midpoint 2017’ showcases student artwork in Stamp Gallery

A student looks closely at artwork by Jessica van Brakle.

By Jillian Atelsek

The sculptures, collages and prints of three second-year Master of Fine Arts students went on display Wednesday evening in the gallery of the Stamp Student Union.

Jessica van Brakle, Hugh Condrey Bryant and Beki Basch celebrated reaching the “midpoint” of their three-year master’s career at Maryland by creating pieces to be featured in Stamp’s exhibition, aptly named “Midpoint 2017.”

The exhibition is an annual event for MFA candidates at the University of Maryland to have their work on display before the entire university community. This year, the exhibition will run until May 22. It is free and open to the public.

The works of van Brakle, Bryant and Basch all attempt to grapple with large themes, such as gender roles, loss and the relationship between humans and nature. Bryant, for example, creates sculptures out of materials such as concrete and steel that he says “have a very strong association with trade labor that’s traditionally performed by men.”

Hugh Condrey Bryant tells a visitor to the show about his sculpture.

“My sentiment is that skill and labor are genderless,” Bryant said. “What I’m really trying to do…is make commentary on contemporary ideals and assumption of what masculinity is.”

Raino Isto, the coordinator for the Stamp Gallery, said that events such as the Midpoint 2017 opening reception “usually penetrate through the whole university community,” despite the fact that “we obviously get more people from the art history and art studio departments.”

“One of our goals is to speak to diverse identities that people have on this campus, and to provide a space for people to see contemporary art that deals with issues of race, gender, sexual identity and age,” Isto said, stressing the importance of art across disciplines.

Myles Poole, one of the students who attended the opening reception of the show, considers himself an example of how art can touch the lives of anyone, regardless of their background or course of study. As a junior physics major who recently picked up art as a double-major, Poole says that he “wanted to experience other things at UMD.”

Students view work by Beki Basch, some of which was displayed on the floor.

“In science, there’s kind of a culture of adherence to standards and endless repetition…in art, it’s kind of the opposite. It’s a creative process,” Poole said.

Basch said that the wide array of students at the University makes it a unique setting for art. She recalled last year’s Midpoint exhibition, during which she was fascinated by a student from the plant sciences department who noticed that an art piece made out of wooden materials resembled the cell structure of the original tree.

“You have so much input…you’re not gonna get that kind of cross-disciplinary thing at a gallery,” she said. “You’re really gonna get that here more than any other place.”

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