As yet another school year comes to a close, the School of Museum of Fine Arts is hosting its fourth annual Senior Thesis Show, featuring the works of 46 artists, at 230 Fenway, Boston, MA 02115. The exhibition is open to the public for viewing from now until May 31, 2011, Mon-Sat 12-7pm.  For more information, visit, or call 617-267-6100.

I must admit: while Boston may be known for its superlative and reigning academic culture, it is not what I generally consider an ‘artsy’ city.  But the ever-growing population of talented, young artists, working in a unique range of media, is challenging me to reconsider that position…

No more so than during my recent preview of the School of Museum of Fine Arts Senior Thesis Show.  Established in 2007, the annual exhibition is enjoying an impressive growth rate in its student participation, having nearly quadrupled from 12 to 46 in a mere four years. And it’s easy to understand why, when you take in the sheer breadth of the work presented.

Be it: abstract painting, framed mountings, spy-cam-video-performances, black-and-white film, award-winning photography, Stephen St. Francis Decky’s anime-esque drawings, gender-bending Barbies-and-baby-dolls-slabbed onto powder-pink-and-blue walls, live performances that would certainly stir up a commotion and heated conversation, oil paintings with men’s shoes darting out the canvas (a cheeky and witty nod to President Bush’s 2008 political run-in), to 3-D installations. And lest I forget: cell-phone-vibe-motion-induced-interactive-sketches (frankly, I don’t know what else to call it…).

This is a new generation of compelling artists: a group who have chosen, without censor, their unique subjects, and have both expressed and explored their thematic contexts in ways that are rarely traditional.  It is not surprising that most artists here have moved beyond purely confessional subjects and are, instead, voicing their particular thread in the broader dialogue of charged precepts: from social to purely political concerns.

Sarah Kroll, for example, tackles gender roles in the context of American commercialism by addressing Barbie, her influence, and the rigid ideal she embodied to her generation, and those both before and after.

What also must be noted, and what is particularly compelling about a Senior Thesis Show, is that many artists are also moving beyond their own comfort zone of technique, exploring other media and medium in the interest of expressing their perspectives in new ways. The work of Gessica Silverman, for example, which was previously constructed in 2-D moves to 3-D, not as a mere point of craft, but as a broader expression.  With this shift, Silverman demonstrates the fluidity, flexibility, and ‘coming-out-of-the-wall’  transformative aspects of her own evolution and growth, as an artist and as an individual.

These are artists at the begnning of their careers and, frankly, many of these talented seniors may or may not be in Boston much longer. In short, get to the show, and soon.

2 thoughts on “SMFA, BOSTON: SENIOR THESIS SHOW 2011”

  1. Thanks for coming to the show, and thanks for mentioning my “cell-phone-vibe-motion-induced-interactive-sketches.”

    The piece is called “On the Line.” It is an interactive drawing system that utilizes an everyday cell phone in a unique way. The phone lies open and face-up on a piece of large paper. I created an attachment that holds a pen to the paper below. When the phone receives a call or text the vibration causes the phone to slide across the paper, dragging the pen and creating a line. The result is a large scale collaboration between all those who have called or texted, from anywhere in the world.

    Be sure to check it out by the 31st!

    Bill Maass

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