Press Room

  • Installation View, James Howzell, “Miles", Brussels PennMFA Thesis Exhibition, 2015

PennDesign MFAs Present "Down to Earth" Thesis Exhibition in Brussels

BRUSSELS--The Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design presents Down to Earth / Terre a Terre / Van Nature, the 2015 thesis exhibition in Brussels, Belgium. Opening June 6 and on view through July 1 at Hangar H18, the exhibition is the culmination of a six-month exchange between the graduate students and curator Agata Jastrząbek.

During their residency in Brussels, the students will install selected works, and through various activities organized by the curator, immerse themselves in the local contemporary art scene and visit major Belgian historical venues.

The thesis exhibition project acknowledges that emerging artists work from a globalized state of culture and respond to a new perception of site specificity. The exhibition presents work impacted by a collective discussion on the premise that travel, cultural exchange and the examination of cultural relativism are all markers of a profound evolution in our vision of the world. This year’s edition questions the power of globalization and cultural relativism by enhancing and paying tribute to particular characteristics inherent to North American culture. 

“The point is: art develops differently on different grounds,” notes Jastrząbek. “So it all comes together, in the European context of surreal Brussels. It’s all down to (earth of) the present as it is: direct, responsive, reality-­‐related, contemporary. Altogether it is not so referential and enigmatic. It is engaged, blunt communicative, daring, rooted, uprooted and fresh.“

The exhibition features work by Natessa Amin, Jacob Been, Jennifer Berman, Charles Hall, Ava Hassinger, Daniel Haun, Corey Herynk, James Howzell, Sascha Hughes-Caley, Ashley Kuhn, Katie Locke, Chiara No, Joan Oh, Jing Qian, Derek Rigby, Lydia Rosenberg, Kasey Short, Michelle Yue Wang, Wilmer Wilson IV and Annie Zverina.

About the Curator
Agata Jastrząbek (b. 1983, Poland) graduated from University Maastricht (NL) in 2009. She lived and worked in Brussels (BE) between 2009 and 2013 and in Vienna (AT) between 2013 and 2015. She has realized exhibitions and publications with institutions such as Wiels (Residue co-curated with Dirk Snauwaert, 2013), Argos (Slavs and Tatars, 2011), Komplot (¥€$, I see stars, 2011) and others. She collaborated with Joëlle Tuerlinckx on a solo show with many artists at the gallery Nächst St Stephan in Vienna. In the framework of curated by (2013) festival in Vienna she curated a group show No touching, No including young and emerging European artists. This year (2015), after thorough research she conceived an installation titled Place for the 10th anniversary of JoAnn’s Gonzalez Hickey private collection in New York.

About the PennDesign's MFA Program
The Master of Fine Arts program at PennDesign is focused on the professional development of visual artists. Through workshops, seminar courses, international residency opportunities and interactions with curators, writers and artists, the program provides an open intellectual framework to foster independent methods of artistic research. In addition to seminars within the Fine Arts department, graduate students are encouraged to pursue topics of science and the humanities through an impressive selection of courses offered across the university.