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Expo: Popular BFA Show Rebrands, Refocuses

Expo: Popular BFA Show Rebrands, Refocuses

: Natalie Friedman with her work-in-progress. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Expo: Popular BFA Show Rebrands, Refocuses

: EXPO: Courtesy Cornish College of the Arts.

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Cornish’s annual B.F.A. exhibtion becomes “Expo” with a broad new agenda; but it will continue to introduce the public to talented young artists — like Natalie Friedman.

For years now, Cornish’s B.F.A. exhibition of art and design student work has been a “destination” in the local arts scene. Gallery owners looking for artists to represent, studios looking for designers, art lovers looking for a purchase, patrons looking for artists to support, all know that there will be something special on display. Until now, the B.F.A. exhibition has been called, with a certain amount of blandness, the “B.F.A. Show.” That old moniker is going away. Now the exhibition will be the capstone event of a larger entity which will be called “Expo.”

Why the name change for the exhibition? It’s not cosmetic. According to Exhibitions Curator Cable Griffith, it reflects a big turning point in what the show is and what it does. With its new name, Expo, the exhibition moves from simply being a gallery of work — as important as that is — toward becoming a major event. “The intention, long-term, for Expo is to demonstrate all work at Cornish,” says Griffith, “bringing all the departments together to show their work: art, design, theater, dance, music and performance production. We want to get this together for the Cornish centennial.”

But this year, one year before the 100th anniversary of the college’s founding, the target is more modest. In addition to the gallery reception the event has always had, the art and design departments will hold what they call “Student Spotlight.” At the new event, performance art pieces that can’t be hung on a wall will be featured. It will also offer an opportunity for design students to personally present their work, a chance to better represent themselves professionally.

The physical footprint of the show will also expand. Expo will use the same halls in the Student Studio Building where the old B.F.A. exhibitions were hung, but the entire upstairs will be added, allowing the event to double in size. What’s more, the plan is to open things onto Terry Street in front of the building all the way down to the Main Campus Center. “We’ve contacted food trucks,” says Cable Griffith. “It will be like a block party.”

Forty-eight seniors in the art department will show their work to the world in Expo. One of them is Natalie Friedman, who is in the process of finishing work on her B.F.A. project.

Friedman is unusual among the seniors in art in that she was born into the national art scene. Her father runs an important gallery in New York. While other art students have been flocked to the City to study, she went the other direction: all the way to Seattle and Cornish.

Natalie says her installation at Expo will combine photographic work and video. “My goal is to talk about time and its interchangeability,” she say. “I’m looking for a narrative in moving, breathing still photography against videos that are still.”

Working with size, focus and 3-channel projection, her aim is to create for the viewer a feeling of “the uncanny.” The photographs she’s been working with on computer are extreme, unfocused close-ups of a face (see above). Although you wouldn’t know it, the face is her own. The black-and-white images are striking on the wall, but Natalie is not yet satisfied with the print quality. Work continues.

Griffith, who teaches the B.F.A. seminar with Art Department Chair Christy Johnson, is pleased with how the seniors are doing, and Natalie in particular. “I like how Natalie uses herself as a vehicle to reflect on people’s relationships to each other,” he says. “It’s an ambitious piece that will really be something if the plans come to fruition.”

All the seniors in the show will soon have to begin moving into a career. Friedman says her plans after Expo and graduation are to hang out for a bit in Seattle, then move to Berlin for an extended period of work.


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