De/Coding Opening Reception
De/Coding Opening Reception

Last Friday, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design MFA program opened its gallery up to the public for De/Coding, the fall exhibition showcasing the work of first- and second-year MFA students.

The evening reception presented visitors with a variety of disciplines including photography, painting, animation, printmaking, illustration, sculpture, and graphic design. Overall, twenty-six artists and designers showed their work. The exhibition took place in the program's spacious new studio and gallery space, right up the street from MCAD's main campus.

De/Coding explored the structures of communication in art and the connections between ideas, artworks, and perceptions to encourage dialogue. I chatted briefly with two students about their work and the show.

Untitled, Binbin Shen

What was the idea behind your piece?

Binbin Shen: I wanted to create an experience of sitting on the floor. I wanted it to be playful and sustainable.

What sustainable materials did you use and how long did it take for you to make your piece?

Shen: The materials I used included MDF, foam, and pleather for the upholstery. The part that took the longest was making the floor chair. I used bending birch wood, and I was able to make it bend at that angle using the vacuum bag and having the wood bend over carved foam for it to hold its shape. For the small table, I used white oak for the table top and steel for the legs.

What did you think about the turnout of the show?

Shen: It was great! A lot of people invited their friends and families, and many faculty members came out. The show also had a panel discussion at the end, where everyone was invited to ask questions about specific pieces.

It Takes 2, Maria Castillo and Zoe Cinel

What did you think about the turnout of the show?

Zoe Cinel: The MFA Fall Show is always an important event that marks an entering point for first-year MFA students to start feeling part of the MCAD community and for second-years to show what they achieved during the summer. I think the show was a success. Everything looked awesome, we had a great attendance from the MCAD community and the extended Minneapolis art community and we extended the conversation with a panel discussion, moderated by Christina Schmid, that took place in the MFA Gallery. It was the first time that the MFA fall show included an event like that and it had good participation and was very helpful for the artists that received feedback and connected with the audience more.

What's the idea behind It Takes 2?

Cinel: It Takes 2 is an interactive and participatory sculpture/seat that reflects the notion that we cannot exist alone; we function as part of a society that demands communication with one another to operate. With this piece, we aim to highlight the importance of cooperation, openness, and dialogue, especially in these times of social and political discomfort.

What is the Postcolonial Term for Xenology?

What are some words that come to mind when you think about Xenology?

Cinel: Uprooted, decontextualized, transitory, excluded, identity, cultural identity, language, understand, misunderstand, belong, cultural background, anxiety, incommunicability, perception, colonized, home, shelter, community, alien, etc.

Can you describe this performance piece?

Cinel: Immigrants are performers: they have to mediate between languages and cultures and stage themselves in order to be understood. What is the Postcolonial Term for Xenology? is an open series of multimedia performances developed through a participatory process, whose goal is to create community from trauma. The three performers, Xiaojie Liu (pictured above), Pedro Lander, and Maria Castillo shared their experiences of being immigrants with me and together we arrived at the creation of an image that turned their anxiety into a performative action. The action was performed in relation to multiple objects that I built or collected for the performer. The objects revealed the power structure in which immigrants are forced to leave due to their status; performers were always in a position of exclusion or lack of power.

The next MFA show will take place this winter, so keep an eye out for details!