For a few hours on the morning of March 5 the third-floor hallway of Prim Library transformed into an art gallery. BFA students unveiled their work for a crowd of eager parents, faculty, and peers in what is known as MAPR.
MAPR is the Midway Art Portfolio Review and for more than 20 years juniors in the art department have been using it to showcase their projects in a gallery format to not only get assessed for a grade but to get a sort of peer review and learn how to expand their work.
“I’m really excited about the progress the students have made in advancing their work over the first half of this semester,” Mary Kenny, associate professor in the Fine Arts Department said in an e-mail interview. “The students complete MAPR their junior years and this exhibition allows them to begin synthesizing skills and techniques learned and exploring concepts in their work.”
MAPR isn’t just another school project. Students use their art to tackle real issues like race, gender roles, and even critiques about the direction society is going in.
“On the video on the right, time is speeding up, and you’re seeing all this momentum happen and it’s building up to this brink where there’s a societal collapse,” Nikki Sardelli, a junior at Sierra Nevada University, said about her video piece. “Then, on the left side, there’s this world that’s an apocalyptic future, where it’s a clean slate. All the rules of the past society have been broken down and you’re just following this scavenger character who is going through and collecting items that are remanence of the past society.”
Sardelli took inspiration from both the world she is living in today and the sci-fi and fantasy books she read growing up when she realized these fantasy storylines could still tackle real issues.
“I think we’re at this point in time where were so consumer-based and there’s so much junk we’re making constantly and just taking resources over and over,” Sardelli said. “At some point that has to change or collapse.”
While Sardelli is highlighting these two worlds in her video piece, Gabe Seevak, another SNU junior, took inspiration for his sculptures from both his upbringing and his love for nature.
“I have these abstracted geometric forms that kind of resemble architecture and shapes from nature or more organic forms. And then these constructed forms being taken back by these organic forms so playing with the idea of decay and solidity of objects. I think nature and architecture play off of each other in a really cool way,” Seevak said. “Growing up in Boston I feel like I absorbed a bunch of different architectural styles and kind of have a love for the sharp angles and different shapes that build everything so while there’s the nature forms there are also the ones that resemble that architecture.”
MAPR also gives students the chance to set up an art show while they are still learning so by the time they need to do it later in life they not only have an understanding for how the process goes, but the pressure can be taken off a little.
“There’s a lot of stuff to getting a show ready, just the amount of setup you have to do; installing, how you’re going to arrange your pieces. Suddenly you want to hang something so now you have to go make a bunch of shelves,” Seevak said. “Everything is do it yourself so it’s a really good low-risk learning environment.”
MAPR has always given students the opportunity to grow as both an artist and a person. This show is sort of like training wheels in a sense.
“It’s kind of a relief doing this first because I didn’t realize what a big deal it would be to talk for 10 minutes about my identity as an artist and how I came up with this stuff so it’s a little scary,” Sardelli said. “I have a lot of anxiety talking in front of a lot of people but it’s also really helpful to have this stepping stone because to talk for a half hour at a full gallery show would be such an overwhelming thing to do if I didn’t do this first.”