Summer 2019 Projects

Ruth Bolduan China trip 

Eight VCU students joined Professor Ruth Bolduan on a two-week trip to Beijing, China in early summer hosted by Tsinghua University. In addition to seeing the major sites including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Yuan Ming Yuan Park, and Lama Temple, students participated in an experimental ink drawing class led by Tsinghua Professor Chen. A highlight of the trip was a three-day sojourn at Yeshanpo, an “artist’s village” in the magnificent mountains of Hebei Province. Students painted outdoors and shared their work with young Chinese artists. Tsinghua University featured the students’ work in an exhibition called “Keep in Touch.” Professor Bolduan hopes that students from our universities will form lasting connections, and she thanks students and professors from Tsinghua University for welcoming us into their community of artists. 


Summer Studio Program

Each Summer the departments of Painting + Printmaking and Sculpture + Extended Media host a  7-week intensive post baccalaureate program. Based on our successful MFA programs, SSP combines theory and practice through: seminars, studio visits, artist lectures, group critiques, professional development and intensive studio time. For nearly a decade, this groundbreaking program has attracted artists globally to help transform and hone their work and ideas. This year the co-directors were Sara Stern and Ryan Lucero, both former Fountainhead Fellows. Participants in the program came from New York, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, and elsewhere. 

Faculty & Alumni News

MFA alum Loie Hollowell has a solo show, “Plumb Line,” opening at Pace Gallery on Sept 14 at their new location in New York. 

Professor Hope Ginsburg received grants from both the NEA and the Warhol Foundation to support her 2020 exhibition at USF.

Professor Caitlin Cherry was in a group show in Los Angeles at Luis de Jesus Gallery, “I’ve got a good mind to give up living and go shopping instead,” July 13- Aug 17 and in a group show at Deitch Gallery in Los Angeles curated by Nina Chanel Abney.

BFA alum Chino Amobi was included in a group show in Los Angeles curated by David Hartt at Philip Martin Gallery July 13 – Aug 24 and was invited to perform at SESC Pompeia in São Paulo July 5.

BFA alum Roberto Jamora (BFA ‘09) presents “An Inventory of Traces” at Page Bond Gallery from September 6–28.

BFA alum Roberto Jamora was in a group exhibition, The Unusual Suspects: A View of Abstraction, June 13 – August 9, curated by Richard Kalina at DC Moore Gallery in NYC.

“I want to be your sister, your mother..” Kyrae Dawaun in Montespertoli

Sept 16-29
FAB Gallery
Fine Arts Building 1st Floor
1000 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23284

Reception Sept 27, 5:30-8pm

Each year the Department of Painting + Printmaking (PAPR) awards the opportunity to live and work in Montespertoli, Italy to 1-2 MFA students. This summer Kyrae Dawaun spent three weeks exploring a few capital cities around Italy, exploring great works from the western art historical canon. Dawaun found evidence of the convergent empires that built Italy and was introduced to its acclaimed people and culture. This experience was just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the context of Italy, but it has informed his practice moving into his second year in the PAPR MFA program. This exhibition includes work that sketches out the trace of this experience and its impact on his practice moving forward.

Joshua Simon: “Don’t Hate The Meme, Hate The Algorithm”: The Mesoscopic, The Metastable and The Curatorial

Visiting Curator Lecture
Sept 24, 12:30pm
601 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23220

Joshua Simon, curator and author. Former director and chief curator at MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam (2012- 2017), now based in Philadelphia, PA. Co-founding editor of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa based Maayan publishing. Author of Neomaterialism (Sternberg Press, 2013), and editor of United States of Palestine-Israel (Sternberg Press, 2011), Ruti Sela: For The Record (Archive Books, 2015), Communists Anonymous (with Ingo Niermann, Sternberg Press, 2017), and Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism (Archive Books, forthcoming 2018). Recent curatorial projects include: The Kids Want Communism (MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam and Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, Berlin, 2016-2017), Second Nature (International Photography Festival, Tel Aviv 2017), and In The Liquid (PrintScreen Media Art Festival, Holon 2018). Simon holds a PhD from the Visual Cultures department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK. 


“Don’t Hate The Meme, Hate The Algorithm”: The Mesoscopic, The Metastable and The Curatorial

2018 might be remembered as the year of graphic cards shortage. The price for the cards soared since the beginning of that year, parallel to the price of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. Their strong processing capabilities made graphic cards an ideal tool for amateur crypto-mining. Interestingly enough, the graphic card is usually used for rendering visual plans and programs (from architectural plans to videogames), but here it was used for something that has no visual presence as far as human vision is considered. This is a telling example of where power is today – unattainable by the human eye. Therefore, we who are working in the field of the visual, are compelled to renegotiate our understanding of vision and power. In this talk,we will look at the exhibition as a model which allows for relations to be assessed and measured, while asking what kind of relations and connections are available in contemporary art. Working with notions of structural physics and optics such as the mesoscopic – the field of vision we inhabit, between the microscopic and the telescopic, so to speak; metastability – an assembled structure which holds through minimum points of contact with maximum intensity; homophily – “love of the same,” which became the architecture of the “real existing internet,” from ad-based search engines to social media outlets – this talk will venture into curatorial strategies, cinematic and artistic projects, histories of ideas and technologies, theoretical and mechanical positions, to address the relations of vision and power today.

Painting + Printmaking MFA Pecha Kucha

Please join us for the MFA Painting and Printmaking Pecha Kucha 
6 pm Thursday, September 12th
The Fishbowl, 3rd floor, Fine Arts Building

Presentations by: 

Raul Aguilar
Damien Ding
Ellen Hanson
Kelley-Ann Lindo
Hanaa Safwat
Connor Stankard
Bryan Castro
John Chae
Kyrae Dawaun
Paul Finch
GM Keaton
Seren Moran
Luis Vasquez La Roche

Kenny Rivero Visiting Artist Lecture

September 5, 12:30pm
Commons Theater
907 Floyd Ave
Richmond, VA 23284

Kenny Rivero received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2006 and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2012. Rivero has taught painting, drawing and sculpture at the School of Visual Arts, Montclair State University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Yale University. He is the recipient of a Doonesbury Award, the Robert Schoelkopf Memorial Travel Grant, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, a Visiting Scholar position at New York University, and the Joan Mitchell Painting and Sculptor Grant.

He has exhibited his work in the US and abroad in venues such as the Pera Museum in Turkey, the Stedelijk Museum in the Netherlands, the Contemporary Art Museum in St Louis, The Pérez Art Museum in Miami, The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling in New York City, El Museo del Barrio in New York City, and the Delaware Contemporary in Wilmington Delaware. Residencies include the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program in New York City, the Roswell Artist in Residence Program in New Mexico, The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, The Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture, and The Macedonia Institute. Rivero is currently a lecturer at the Yale University School of Art.

“Phone Home” at EFA Project Space, featuring VCUarts Painting + Printmaking MFA Alumni

Above: Liang Luscombe, She Inches Glass to Break, 2018, HD video with custom seating cushion element, 14 minutes 23 seconds

“Phone Home”

An exhibition featuring VCUarts Painting + Printmaking MFA Alumni,
Classes of 2018 and 2019

Diana Antohe, Katie Barrie, Wallis Cheung, Isa Gagarin, Azim Al Ghussein, Lauren Hensens, Liang Luscombe, Be Oakley, Greg Piwonka, Cait Porter, Johanna Robinson, Michael Royce, Yu Su, Emily Wardell

Curated by Wendy Vogel

The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts
EFA Project Space
323 West 39th Street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10018

June 5–19, 2019
Opening: Wednesday, June 5, 6–8pm
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12–5pm

“Phone Home,” at EFA Project Space, brings together work by recent alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA Painting + Printmaking Department. There’s the obvious reading of this exhibition’s theme: artists in graduate school grappling with their identities in their work, often while far from family and comfortable surroundings. “Phone home” is also the signature phrase of E.T., the extra-terrestrial protagonist of the early ‘80s Spielberg film. As an abandoned alien on earth, E.T. forges a psychic connection with a child who shares his experience of otherness. The movie’s themes of misunderstood identity, distrust of ‘foreign’ bodies, government surveillance and redemption through love regain a sense of urgency in our current political landscape. There is yet a third interpretation of the title. As a VCU visiting professor in spring 2018, teaching a graduate seminar for the artists in this exhibition, I assigned Dodie Bellamy’s “Phone Home” from her essay collection When the Sick Rule the World (2015). This text, interweaving Bellamy’s confrontation with her mother’s death and a meditation on E.T., became part of an unexpectedly galvanizing conversation about disability, illness and political agency. For these artists, the inescapability of the body, with its messiness and complexity, grounded them with a sense of common political purpose. The works in this show variously consider forms of resistance, dependency, community, representation and memory — all while connecting to the artists’ ideas of self and home.

Several artworks relate directly to family bonds and networks of chosen kinship. Born in the UAE, Azim Al Ghussein makes handmade soap as a gesture to explore hospitality, heritage and displacement in the Gulf region. Yu Su has created paintings of soap made by Al Ghussein — a close friend — and a text about distributing these bars of soap to other friends in the U.S. As a Chinese citizen, Su narrates the experience of being under suspicion while transporting the soap across the country. Diana Antohe’s installation references her self-described “in-between” identity as a Romanian-born, American-raised artist. She repurposes materials like linens, associated with the homemaking efforts of her female relatives and family friends, to address loss, ritual and migration.

Notions of taste as a cultural construction, open to subversion, are taken up by other artists. Michael Royce’s practice explores queerness by reveling in campy aesthetics, including spiritual motifs and coupling animals, in handmade textiles and painting. Katie Barrie’s abstract paintings playfully nod to the feminized (and marginalized) status of home décor since the age of high modernism, utilizing techniques that mimic interior design treatments and surfaces as stucco.

While not explicitly engaging in self-representation, some of the featured artists plumb the discrepancy between personal memory and collective narrative. In canvases depicting her domestic space, Cait Porter imbues everyday objects with a sense of meditative, emotional weight. She writes that these “normal details hold space for the things that are too difficult to speak aloud,” such as past trauma and the experience of mental illness. Emily Wardell’s practice addresses media narratives of violence and the role of ‘amateur’ documentation. Here, she includes an installation of hundreds of still images from three disturbing videos captured on CCTV. Isa Gagarin shows abstract paintings with vibrant color relationships. Taking her cues from natural phenomena and individual experience, Gagarin creates work that responds to such cyclical events as tides and orbits.

Finally, a number of works reimagine portraiture and collective representations of race, gender and sexual identity. Lauren Hensens, whose work openly addresses the human toll on the environment, presents a large painting of their elongated silhouette casting a shadow on the ground. The work is part of a series based on their experiences hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Despite its bright patterns and confident brushwork, Greg Piwonka’s canvas of a panting dog channels an exhaustion with performative masculinity and its destructive political effects. Johanna Robinson’s work, by contrast, envisions fantastical collaborations between women, animals and nature — a feminist utopia that deconstructs received forms of knowledge. Wallis Cheung’s video of a headless green-skinned female race, based on Frankenstein’s monster, skewers stereotypes of the Asian “other” in colonized nations like her native Hong Kong. Accompanied by a soundtrack of industrialized noise, Cheung’s manifesto-like text scroll along the screen: “We will rip our own heads off, so you can sink your gaze deep into our flesh.” Likewise addressing the intersection of race, gender and class, Liang Luscombe portrays a trio of librarians in the sitcom-style video She Inches Glass to Break. Her characters debate the merits and political shortcomings of two films — one mainstream, one avant-garde. Be Oakley works as an artist and the founder of GenderFail, a publishing and curatorial platform devoted to representing intersectional queer perspectives. For this exhibition, they present a poster and series of new collage works based on titles produced by GenderFail and the nonprofit Wendy’s Subway. Oakley has also formatted the exhibition title wall vinyl in their font First Gay Americans, based on a hand-lettered protest sign from the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 14, 1979.

—Wendy Vogel

Faculty & Alumni News

MFA alum Kristen Sanders featured in BOMB magazine

MFA alum Ander Mikalson has a solo show, Scores for a Black Hole, at Art In General in NYC. Check out this piece about it in Performa Magazine.

Professor Cara Benedetto’s work was featured in Conspiratorial Aesthetics, an exhibition at the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville.

Prof. Hope Ginsburg’s work is featured in exhibition at the VCU Arts Research Institute. Check out this piece about the project.

Prof. Hilary Wilder’s paintings are featured in the VMFA in They Bring Flowers, a solo exhibition.

2019 Candidacy Exhibition

VCUarts | Painting + Printmaking presents Candidacy 2019:

fata morgana

Fata Morgana- (Italian: [ˈfaːta morˈɡaːna])  

A mirage, typically witnessed at sea, in the desert, or over hot pavement, will mirror and invert distant objects through bending, and reflecting rays of light. These images are real, just misplaced, something illusory and unattainable.

We reference the name of a medieval sorceress Morgan le Fay who, of course, was blamed for causing these complex mirages. Today, we understand these optical illusions to be caused by atmospheric conditions. …

An exhibition of works by

APRIL 27th – MAY 4th
5075 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA 23225

Sohrab Mohebbi Visiting Curator Lecture

April 18, 6pm
Sohrab Mohebbi Visiting Curator Lecture
Fine Arts Building Room 301
1000 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23284

Sohrab Mohebbi is Curator at SculptureCenter. Before joining SculptureCenter in 2018, Mohebbi was the associate curator at REDCAT where he organized solo exhibitions with Dave Hullfish Bailey, Tamara Henderson, John Knight, and Falke Pisano among others. His group exhibitions include: It is obvious from the map (co-curated with Thomas Keenan), which examined the role of maps and map-making in the movements of large numbers of people from the conflict zones of the Middle East and Africa toward Europe, and Hotel Theory (curated in collaboration with Ruth Estevez). Hotel Theory focused on the performance of theory in contemporary art and considered theory as an art form and received The Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award in 2013. Mohebbi was a Curatorial Fellow at Queens Museum where he organized Hassan Khans Hidden Location, the artists first museum exhibition in the United States. He is the recipient of 2012 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for the blog presencedocuments. His writings have been published in Bidoun magazine, where he is a contributing editor, as well as other periodicals and publications. He is an advisor at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and has organized exhibitions and programs for organizations including the Walker Art Center, High Desert Test Sites, SALT Istanbul and Center for Historical Reenactments. He received an M.A. from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a B.F.A in Photography from Tehran Art University.


Banu Cennetoğlu, 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018 · H O W B E I T · Guilty feet have got no rhythm · Keçiboynuzu · AS IS · MurMur · I measure every grief I meet · Taq u Raq · A piercing Comfort it affords · Stitch · Made in Fall · Yes. But. We had a golden heart. · One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game, 2018, installation view, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Video, images, sound; 22 parts, 46,685 files. 128 hours and 22 minutes. Metadata: 687 pages, 11.7 x 16.5 inches (279 mm x 432 mm). Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo, London/Piraeus. Photo: Kyle Knodell