Friday, May 12, 2017

A closer look at "A Chair That...", Mimi Bai's MFA Thesis Exhibition

In this post, second year Alfred Sculpture grad Mimi Bai gives us a closer look at the motivations behind her Thesis Exhibition, "A Chair That...". Congratulations on a wonderful show, Mimi!

Mimi Bai: "In my work, I endeavor to highlight the complex, shifting nature of identity as well as the nuances and contradictions found within interpersonal relationships. Intersectionality – the intersecting vertices of race, class, gender, etc, that affect an individual’s experience in society - is the overarching framework for my work. My undergraduate degree in Sociology offered me the tools with which to recognize how I am implicated in and benefit from systemic racism, economic exploitation, and gender inequality. The desire to address these realities and resist replicating them in my own life is a strong motivation in my sculpture practice. 

I seek to locate myself in my immediate world; then from there look out onto the larger political and social context: “meaning is created once something can be related to personal  experience.”1 My work serves as a method of researching, experimenting, and learning how to engage with the world. The work begins with an internal examination of the tensions between desire and restriction, pleasure and discomfort; I dissect my own lived experiences and then use this knowledge to create objects. These objects take the form of chairs, but are in fact contraptions designed for my ongoing investigation of how to live with integrity, humor, and compassion: “a philosophical riddle masquerading as furniture.”2 The chairs become both object and location where desire, power dynamics, and relationships are externalized.

Chairs are a recurring motif in my work because of their implicit reference to the body as well as their recognizable form and symbolic value. This allows me to explore subjectivity  and the body in relation to others without directly using the figure. My work revolves around the body in space, whether through direct physical interaction or the viewers' projection of the absent body onto a piece. While the designs of the chairs develop from my own experiences, they connect to the viewers’ imagination and their corporeal memory. Many of my sculptures also invite the viewer to sit in them; they then are compelled to make decisions on how they will behave once in the chair. Through this process, the viewer (now sitter) becomes an “active accomplice” in my work.3 The chairs support real or imagined bodies in space, placing them in positions for confrontation, support, confession, accommodation, and reflection.

In Dome Chair, the Tête-à-tête series, and Untitled 1-7, I endeavor to graft structural and cultural critique and self-reflection onto forms borrowed from contemporary design. The propositional, experimental, and ever-evolving nature of these sculptures are mirrored in their flat-pack construction and prototypic state. I find the optimism and utilitarian value of design very seductive, yet I am highly skeptical of the compatibility of justice and equity with capitalist modes of production. I use this internal tension in my work: the clean lines and pleasing forms leverage the aesthetic appeal of design, but the intent of my furniture is to investigate our relationships and identities.

A chair that...: 

The show’s titular piece A chair that.... is an alternate biography, told not through chronological events but rather by an inventory of desires, insecurities, hopes, and flaws: “a chair that makes me less self righteous...a chair that keeps me humble...a chair that makes me sit down to eat....” The list details genuine (embarrassing, neurotic, self-absorbed) desires. There are clear tensions between the author’s more admirable aspirations and her less-than-flattering realities. These tensions become the motivating questions behind all the works in the show.

Dome Chair: 

Dome Chair is a tool for self-reflection that marries vulnerability and unease with pleasure  and intrigue by engaging the sitter visually, sonically, and physically. I hope to prime the participant to consider the competing narratives that define their individual experience. I am deeply invested in the rejection of binary systems that oversimplify the shifting, multidimensional nature of identity. A person can be both generous and racist, compassionate and petty. To recognize these conflicting ideas is not to excuse them, but rather to increase our ability to hold multiple narratives simultaneously.

Tête-à-tête Series:

The Tête-à-tête chairs create strange encounters through physically enforced intimacy. The designs of these two-person chairs place the sitters in different postures to heighten their awareness of their own body in relation to another. The presence of the other person, regardless of who they are, must be acknowledged and addressed in some way. Sit, See, and Touch shape an interaction between two people, which can take on any number of forms: comfort, confrontation, confession, collaboration, etc.

Untitled 1-7: 

The simple, unadorned forms of Untitled 1-7 function as a type of Rorschach Test for the viewer, allowing for subjective interpretation of power, positionality, and group dynamics.  The viewer’s perspective and personal experience affects the roles or identities they ascribe to each seated position and into where they seat themselves."

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Field Trip to the Corning Museum of Glass

Karen Donnellan's Junior Casting Class visited the Corning Museum of Glass this week. Thank you to Susie Silbert, Curator of the Contemporary Glass, for the wonderful tour of the contemporary wing of the museum!

Friday, April 7, 2017

MFA Thesis Exhibition: "A Kind of Souvenir" by Morgan Rose Free

The MFA Thesis Exhibition season is just around the corner! Kicking off the Sculpture & Dimensional Studies shows is Morgan Rose Free this Saturday, April 8th at 7pm in the Fosdick-Nelson Gallery.

Senior Class Killin' it in the Hotshop

 A few images of a senior class being taught by Angus Powers in the hotshop!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

ISC Outstanding Student Achievement Award Nominees

Congratulations to grads Mimi Bai, Marina Fridman and Yeh Rim Lee for being nominated by Alfred University for the International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award!

By Mimi Bai

By Mimi Bai

By Marina Fridman

By Marina Fridman

By Yeh Rim Lee

By Yeh Rim Lee

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When Dance Meets Casting

Dance professor Colleen Culley working with Karen Donnellan's Junior Casting Class in the weight room, on exercises to safely and efficiently ladle glass!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nuclear Lawn Bowling: Sun at Midnight Gallery Talk

Alfred sculpture professor Coral Lambert discussing her work at the Nuclear Lawn Bowling: Sun at Midnight gallery talk!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Opening Reception of Touch Trophies

Tomorrow evening: Don't miss the opening reception of Touch Trophies, an exhibition of collaborative work exploring play and tactility by Milo Harper-Siroto, Ava Carney, and Nick Weddell!

The show opens on Friday, March 24th from 7 - 9 PM at the Robert C. Turner Gallery (Upstairs Mezzanine).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sarah Blood's Work Featured in "Bending Brilliance"!

Alfred Sculpture professor Sarah Blood's work is featured in The Bending Brilliance catalogue, right below Bruce Nauman's!

In-Progress Student Work

Second year Alfred Sculpture graduate student Morgan Rose Free in her in-progress work "Rosy Retrospection"!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Faculty members in "Reunion:Chess" at the Burchfield Penny Museum

If you are in Buffalo between now and June 25th, don't miss Reunion:Chess at the Burchfield Penny Museum! This collaborative exhibition by Karen Donnellan, Coral Lambert and Bill Sack includes four chess boards with sensors that trigger Cage and Duchamp related imagery and sound. The chess pieces, by Karen Donnellan and Coral Lambert, were cast in glass and bronze.

Read more about the show at:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Summer Classes

Looking to take classes this summer? The lineup is now online, including a 2-week Glass Workshop with our very own Alfred Sculpture professor Angus Powers, as well as sound, video, print classes and more! View the available classes here:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Demonstration by Visiting Artist Martin Janecky

Visiting artist Martin Janecky did a phenomenal demonstration at Alfred Sculpture's National Casting Center yesterday! View more photos of the demo on the Visiting Artists page of the site.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

Last Week's Iron Pour!

A few images from last week's iron pour!

Midterm Graduate Reviews

Midterm graduate reviews have been taking place over the last two Wednesdays here at Alfred Sculpture! In this candid shot, professor Angus Powers interacts with a new work by first year sculpture grad Ashley Kerr.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Open Reception of Nuclear Lawn Bowling: Sun at Midnight

This Wednesday, March 1st, don't miss the opening reception of Nuclear Lawn Bowling: Sun at Midnight, an exhibition featuring the work of our very own Alfred Sculpture faculty! View the work of Sarah Blood, Diane Cox, Karen Donnellan, Brett Hunter, Angus Powers, Coral Penelope Lambert, and guest collaborators Paul Higham, John Hogan, Whitney Hubbs, Andrew Oesch, Hiromi Takizawa and "of the land and the sky, big horn mtns".

Wednesday, March 1st
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Fosdick-Nelson Gallery

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Information Session about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Today: An informational session about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program will be held at 5 PM in Binns-Merrill Room 106C! Students at all levels, graduate and undergraduate, are encouraged to attend.
Each year, nearly 2,000 students across the U.S. are awarded Fulbright grants to study, pursue independent research, or teach English in more than 140 countries. Fulbright awards are given to students from nearly all fields of study, including creative and performing arts. The Fulbright program is looking for applicants who are academically strong, ambitious, engaging, flexible, culturally sensitive, caring, and diverse. There is no age limit.

Wednesday, February 22
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Binns Merrill, Room 106C

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Experiments in Glass Casting with Visiting Artist Suzanne Peck!

Last week, Alfred Sculpture welcomed visiting artist Suzanne Peck to our wintery campus. Suzanne joined Karen Donnellan's Junior Casting Class for a morning of experimentation in glass casting. Taking inspiration from skin, texture and gesture as a starting point for our explorations, the class embedded organic objects in glass, experimented with influencing its texture, and engaged in various other experiments. What happens when you ladle glass onto a sheet roller covered in Cheerios? We found out. What occurs when you pour glass over a chiyote (a plant in the gourd family)? We tried that, too! Suzanne also gave a wonderful artist talk about her work, which you can view on her website:

Here are a few images from our adventures experimenting with Suzanne at Alfred's National Casting Center!

A little bit more about Suzanne:

Suzanne Peck earned her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design’s glass department. Indeed, glass  provides continued inspiration in her work,  even when the substance itself is absent (isn’t glass always, in a way, absent?).  Using glass, photography, digital video and new media, her art practice considers touch, interconnectivity and skin through the lens of sculpture and installation. Her work is exhibited worldwide and held in both public and private collections. Glass and art have been the major engines driving Suzanne around the globe, and she has taught and exhibited all over the United States and Australia. Suzanne lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.