“Cross-section” is an online exhibition of work representing the vast array of content, medium, approaches, and influences of Artwork being made by graduate students today. This peer juried exhibition represents the outstanding and unique art of current international and national graduate students working within the visual studio arts.

MFA students from the University of Montana and Montana State University: Ryan Caldwell, Stephanie Dishno, Molly Rivera, Darla Pienciak, Alayna Rasile, Cristina Marian, and Sam Gathje.

Spring 2020

Juror Statements

“While the work submitted to this call was extremely diverse, the jurying process allowed me to see thematic and aesthetic patterns across the MFA work submitted from around the country. Certain topics that are present in my personal work are being explored by so many other artists, giving me a feeling of solidarity in knowing that the questions of belonging, specifically related to geography, are ones we may never settle on answers to. Monsur Awotunde’s mixed media piece We Will Go With Foods brings me both the playful joy and the painful twinge of nostalgia. Re-fashioning the natural and synthetic textiles that are produced as packaging is a tradition that goes way back, that speaks to resourcefulness, desperation, and inadvertently to identity. By pulling together the colors, typography, and design of these ubiquitous objects from a place, Awotunde creates an opportunity for noticing, for wondering, and for seeing deeper into a place you’ve never known.”

Alayna Rasile
Montana State University – Bozeman

“My Juror’s choice award goes to Katharine Miele’s piece, “Family Portrait” which exemplifies the use of craft techniques in contemporary making. The content and material choices of this piece speak to each other in ways I feel have disappeared in popular contemporary making. Specifically the use of embroidery like techniques to accentuate parts of this piece is the type of careful hand craft that I am specifically drawn to. With a show theme focusing on “work representing the vast array of content, medium, approaches, and influences” this piece was the obvious choice for me as an artist working vibrantly and intentionally within multiple material disciplines.

It was an interesting experience navigating the exhibition process. There is clearly a great amount of good work being generated today. It was a pleasure to serve as a juror in this process alongside both Montana State University Masters in Fine Arts grads and the MFA grads from University of Montana. I appreciate the invitation to be a part of this process.”

Sam Gathje
Montana State University – Bozeman

“After a first glance through over 300 artwork submissions, the image of Double Consciousness stuck in my memory for days. The texture of this work holds the history of the creating process, though it is unclear what materials the artist used. Its aspect sent me back in time to Senegal, a place I visited a while ago and I have strong emotional connection with. While all I see is an image on my computer screen, the work reminds me of the African tribal sculptures and invites me for a closer examination. I imagine how it would be to move around it, to touch it, and to even hold it in my arms. With an unclear, somewhat mythical aspect, repetitive elements, and a suggestive title, to me the Double Consciousness work is about identity and hybridity. There is something playful about this all black, abstract, organic sculpture that looks like a strange creature. It feels familiar, yet foreign, from the past, and yet from the future, all at the same time. This ambiguity resonates with me. As a recent immigrant to the U.S., I constantly have to renegotiate my identity and notice its hybridization. But immigrant or not, it looks like today we all live with an acute sense of uncertainty and disorientation, with a need of permanent redefinition of our identity, at a personal and also global level. I would like to thank all the artists who took the time to apply for this online show and who were willing to share their work with all of us. Seeing what other MFA students around the globe are making was an eye-opening experience and made me feel more connected with them.

Cristina Marian
Montana State University – Bozeman

“This piece initially stood out to me due to its striking aesthetic qualities. The symmetrical and precise exterior contrasts with an interior that seems to be brittle and crumbling. I felt there was a rich narrative hiding just below the surface that I couldn’t quite pinpoint, drawing me back repeatedly to the work. The manipulation of materials produces an object that is an individual and is unlike anything I have seen. I got the impression that the process is a large part of the concept, as if this piece was the result of a ritualistic act. Simultaneously, this process is left in the dark, creating a visually intriguing piece that captured my attention.

Jurying shows is always beneficial as an artist. Getting a behind-the-scenes experience is helpful when it comes to applying for shows myself, as I become aware of what stands out the most. Jurying is also great practice in creating a dialogue about art; forming opinions on what I view as successful and articulating why. There was a wide array of artists who submitted work and overall I was impressed by the amount of exploration and experimentation with materials that seemed to emerge with the submissions. As someone who is interested in the way different mediums play together, I enjoyed seeing work from my peers that implemented unique techniques and materials.”

Molly Rivera
University of Montana – Missoula

“Shelby’s photo is my jurors pick due to the stark contrast and vivid color composition. In all the works that were submitted for this show this piece stood out to me from the beginning. At first glance it seemed to be an abstract photo of light and shape, but on further examination the figure stands out and asks you to take notice. The subtle movement of the figure hanging laundry and the extreme use of lighting makes you wonder what the story behind this image is and or could be.

By jurying the show my artistic career will be able to grow in ways of being able to understand other peoples’ art and able to explore and talk about concepts and issues in peoples’ artwork and understand the process of putting together and jurying a show. I am looking forward to spending time with my colleagues here at the University of Montana my fellow graduate students and working with the graduate students of the University of Montana State I am also looking forward to seeing what other people in graduate schools around the country are working on and what concepts they’re dealing with.”

Ryan Caldwell
University of Montana – Missoula

“I chose Brie Henderson’s piece “Your Legs My Connection” as my juror’s choice. The piece’s title suggests a provocative narrative within the piece, while the abstract imagery of the work along with the delicate use of line and color create subtle references to the body. I commend Brie Henderson on her thought-provoking work!

It was my honor to jury the submissions entered into the University of Montana Juried Online MFA exhibition. This is my second time jurying alongside fellow Montana MFA students for the University of Montana Juried Online MFA exhibition and I am once again inspired by the diverse and impressive number of inspiring artists that apply for this show!”

Stephanie Dishno
University of Montana – Missoula

“In this current political climate, it can feel as if society is being divided, and people and the future are not as reliable as they may have once seemed. 32 White Flowers cuts through a lot of the uncertainties and turmoil of society today. The image hints to sweeter memories, and nostalgia for understanding and unification. The aged, but well cared for hands hint to someone who has seen a lot, but remains strong. With the focus on the hands resting calmly on the floral tablecloth, I feel a sense of actions the subject has done with their hands – their past – firmly grounded in the present and on the tablecloth. The combination of the gesture of the hands, in relation to the color and style of the clothing, begins to create a portrait of an individual without use of facial features, but instead through non-verbal communication: how they dress and how they carry themselves. This image creates a breath of fresh air.

I enjoyed being a juror for Cross-Sections. A lot of fantastic works were submitted to this
show, and it was a privilege to be able to examine them all. It was a lengthy process to choose the final works for the show, but it was well worth it. There was a lot of disagreement as to which works would make the final cut, and which works were the top three, but this only speaks to the variety of well executed art that caters to a vast array of viewpoints.”

Darla Pienciak
University of Montana – Missoula