Thesis Exhibitions Open in Gallery Three The UWM Peck School of the Arts Department of Visual Art will host two MA/MFA Thesis Exhibitions this spring. The first exhibition, featuring work by John Ty Bender, Michael Julian, Dusanka Komnenic and Blyth Meier opens on Friday, April 2 and runs through April 17, 2004. The second exhibition, featuring artists Juan Juarez, Dorijan Kolundzija, Amy O’Neill, Rebecca Pearson, John Scotello and Andrea Skyberg opens on Friday, April 30 and runs through May 15, 2004. Both exhibitions are in the Institute of Visual Arts (inova) Gallery Three. Opening receptions are scheduled from 5-7 PM on April 2 and April 30, and gallery talks will take place from 4-6 PM on April 7 and May 5. All events are free and open to the public. Gallery Three, located on the second floor of the Art Center Building, 2400 East Kenwood Boulevard on the UWM campus, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 PM. For more than thirty years, UWM has offered Masters of Art and Masters of Fine Arts degrees through the Department of Visual Art. Visual Art Graduate Program alumni go on to work as artists, professors, and arts administrators world wide with many of them continuing their work within the Milwaukee community. The Thesis Exhibition is the capstone project for graduate students completing their degrees. About the Thesis Exhibition Artists: First Exhibition TY BENDER Bender’s works are free-spirited explorations of his relationship with nature and culture, imprinted upon him since his youth in rural Wisconsin. His bodily morphing forms often evolve through the ceramics process and ultimately the fire where a piece gains its final personality. It is his interest in the firing process that led Bender to become involved in the Waterville Anagama Kiln Project with Christopher Davis-Benavides and Jeff Noska. In this wood fired kiln project he has had the opportunity to collaborate with other artists and students from the community. Currently, Bender’s work fuses an exploration of point of departure with an examination of how site-specific formats relate to the natural forms that he is most drawn to creating. Bender was born and lived his first eighteen years among the rivers, marshlands, and oak forests of Central Wisconsin. He has lived in Milwaukee since 1992, where he earned his B.F.A. in ceramics from UWM in 1999. As a graduate student in ceramics, Bender received three Frederick R. Layton Fellowships; won a scholarship from the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies to travel to Peru to study animal representation in Peruvian folk art; and was awarded a Professional Development award from the Peck School of the Arts. Bender received his M.A. from the UWM in 2002. He is currently an instructor and technician in the UWM Ceramics Department where he works closely with the undergraduate students on the aesthetics and technical skills necessary for the production of ceramic sculpture. MICHAEL K. JULIAN Michael K. Julian’s work investigates the problems and possibilities inherent in geometric, abstract painting as it relates to both Modern and Postmodern theory. Julian believes that geometric/constructive painting, while being a specific product of Modern art, was not simply a historical phase but, instead, a different way of thinking and creating that is still a viable mode of expression in the twenty-first century. This current body of work courts interactivity and draws from fields as varied as music, math, systems analysis, mass production, Gestalt theory, and game structures. Julian grew up in the northern Chicago suburbs in a family of engineers. He received his B.F.A. in drawing, painting, and printmaking from the College of Design at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. After a brief return to the Chicago area in 1995 he moved to Minneapolis where he received his M.A. in painting from Minnesota State University-Mankato (May 2001) while maintaining a studio in the busy arts district of the Midway area of St. Paul. As a graduate student at UWM he has taught both beginning drawing and a two-dimensional composition class. Julian will complete his M.F.A. degree this May. DUSANKA KOMNENIC Dusanka Komnenic’s work is a result of magical properties of material, its transformation and her constant play with it. She sees herself as an alchemist rather than a designer, an alchemist whose goal is to make a man out of mud and to turn carbon into a diamond. The whole process of making art is of importance to her, not just the artifact, and her process is foregrounds accidental moves and unintentional mixtures of materials. Komnenic’s creative engagement is focused on recognizing the moment when the paintings start to breathe. Her work contemplates transience, and for that reason she creates pseudo-scientific creatures never born and never dead. Dusanka depicts them frozen in the fragment of becoming, giving them a sense of immortality. Komnenic received her B.A. in Applied Photography from the Academy of Applied Arts, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). She has exhibited and participated in workshops throughout Europe as well a number of venues and locations in the US. Her artwork has been published in several literary and artistic magazines including Left Curve Magazine, Afterimage, The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Photo Net, Athens, Greece, and Politika, Serbia and Montenegro. Komnenic will receive her M.A. degree in May 2004. BLYTH RENATE MEIER Blyth Renate Meier presents a series of photographs taken during her two-and-a-half year employment as preparator and gallery site manager at UWM’s Institute of Visual Arts. Examining concerns of labor, authorship, hyper-reality and documentation, Meier presents a series of images that re-frame, re-curate, and re-present the paintings, installations, photographs, and video exhibitions mounted by up-and-coming contemporary artists and curators at this world-class institute. Originally from North Dakota, Meier received her B.A. in English (1993) and B.S.Ed. in English Education (1995) from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Since then, Meier has worked in various occupations ranging from public school teacher to bartender to organic farmer. In addition to digital photography, Meier also works in video. Her 2002 work, oldgirl, was screened at the 2003 Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison and the Spring 2003 UWM Student Film Festival. About the Thesis Exhibition Artists: Second Exhibition JUAN JUAREZ Originally from Texas, Juarez now makes Milwaukee his home. According to Juarez, The Midwest is different from South Texas and from a cultural perspective is quite interesting. His studio research is focused on the materiality of the working process, and how that sets up an investigation of images as ideation. Running an image through various states of manipulation with different applications of traditional and non-traditional processes locates the work in an imagined space. The studio research enables Juarez to act out his obsession with images and how visual information bridges larger cultural issues. The ideas explored through the work range from boyhood fantasy/hero worship, to the masculine ideal and its conflation with whiteness, and how these singular issues broaden into a social space involving comments on race, class and gender. DORIJAN KOLUNDZIJA One of the most astonishing facets of the contemporary effort to understand the complex environment influencing the human condition is the endeavor to decipher the multifaceted interrelatedness of humanity and technology. This has been the focus of Kolundzija’s work in the past couple of years. The aim of his art is to investigate, not the ensuing manifestations of this relationship, but its true nature. Kolundzija’s latest work explores the possibilities of unconventional interaction with technology by responding to people’s positions and movements using video and motion tracking. Using the familiar instrument of their bodies, participants engage in somewhat playful contact with projected animal-like creatures that do not really exist, blurring the boundary between real and digital, human and technological. Dorijan Kolundzija was born 1976 in Belgrade, Serbia. In 2000 he graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, with a degree in applied graphics. He will receive his M.A. from UWM in May 2004. AMY O’NEILL Self-portraiture has been a significant aspect of O’Neill’s work for many years. The urgency with which she makes self-portraits is connected to her ongoing investigations into the practice of art, art theory, and art history — particularly past art historical movements and current academic discourses surrounding queer issues as well as the issues surrounding the female body in art and literature. O’Neill’s work explores traditional feminist tropes such as body image, sexuality, and desire and critiques the visual representations of women as constructed by popular culture vis-a-vis self-portraiture. The self she represents in her paintings is an allegorical figure: the embodiment of complex, and often, incongruous, aspects of her personality (a postmodern, constructed self, rather than a “natural” one). Some of O’Neill’s paintings evoke a body, while others suppress the body in order to evoke other aspects of the paintings: “the psychic space of the studio and psychic space between subject and viewer are two themes that currently interest me.” O’Neill is a Milwaukee native who has been a professional painter since 1997. She received her B.F.A. from UWM (1998), and will receive her M.F.A. in May, 2004. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including two Frederick R. Layton Fellowships, two Elsa Ulbright Memorial Scholarships, the UWM Faculty Scholarship, and the Clarice Logan Travel Award. She has travell[x80-xff]ed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, including a period of study in Italy. O’Neill has maintained an active exhibition schedule, exhibiting work throughout the Milwaukee area. Her work has been included in an invitational show at the Milwaukee Art Museum and she was the subject of a solo show at UWM’s Institute of Visual Art. Her most recent exhibition, i.d./a.d. at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, was part of a symposium on identity and the politics of identity. O’Neill’s work has been featured in publications including The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee Magazine. O’Neill’s work is included in many private collections nationwide, and her commissioned murals may be seen all over Milwaukee. REBECCA PEARSON Rebecca Pearson received her B.A. from UW-Green Bay and is currently a candidate for the M.F.A. degree at UWM. Pearson’s work reflects an intensely tactile engagement with her materials: fabric, embroidery, and beadwork. She explores the elements of innocence and awareness through the emotional and sensual quality of these materials. Pearson balances this sensual and textural experience with a conceptual base that reflects her research into fairy tales, Jungian psychology, and feminist ideology. Her artwork is included in the permanent collection of the Lawton Gallery at UW-Green Bay, and she has exhibited at inova Gallery 3 at UWM, the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay and the Fibers Invitational at the Slocumb Gallery in Johnson City, Tennessee. JOHN SCOTELLO Milwaukee artist and M.F.A. candidate John Scotello presents work based on grand scale, art-historically archetypical figure paintings. Scotello deconstructs this art historical genre by imposing his own portrait and comedic symbols over the traditional figure paintings. The result is paintings that are hysterically funny and a critique not only of art history–but of himself and contemporary culture as well. Scotello’s work is richly beautiful, educational, entertaining, and proves that no one and everyone can be a hero. ANDREA SKYBERG In The Filling Andrea Skyberg takes us into a world of excessive consumerism that is scattered with products of confusion and enticement. Her use of video narrative with unique costumes and sets lends the appearance of reality, but with a slight exaggeration, prodding the viewer to reassess their own reality. In her narrative, we witness the continuous cycle of selling and buying. Through the excess of these activities we understand a new type of violence, afflicting both the mind and body. What’s for sale in this reality is more than your usual trip to Wal-Mart. Skyberg creates bodily forms that are ripped open to reveal a shallow filling, something that is unnatural and tainted. These forms appear beautiful, but violated. They become the layer of skin we cannot see, symbolizing the psychological effects of commodity and violence. Skyberg was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and currently resides in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She graduated from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in 2000 with a B.F.A. in fiber arts. After being awarded a National Fulbright Fellowship to research female genital mutilation, Andrea spent 10 months in Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana. Upon returning to the United States, she began to pursue her graduate degree in fiber art at UWM. In addition to receiving several art and display accolades, Skyberg has been awarded the Chancellor’s Fellowship for graduate study at UWM. She will obtain her M.A. in May of 2004. For the past nine years, working toward an ultimate goal of female empowerment and understanding, Skyberg has produced numerous live performances, wearable costume-art, and documentary videos.