The exhibitions of MFA theses open on March 21 | Nebraska today


Eight graduating MFA students from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln School of Art, Art History and Design will present their MFA Thesis exhibitions at the Eisentrager•Howard Gallery at Richards Hall from March 21.

The concurrent solo exhibitions will be presented in four rounds, with a new pairing of artists each week between March 21 and April 15.

The first round runs from March 21-25 and features the work of Allison Arkush (ceramics) and Maddie Aunger (painting). An artist talk will be held March 25 at 4:00 p.m. in Richards Hall, Room 15. A closing reception will be held March 25 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the gallery.

The second round will run from March 28 to April 1 and will feature the work of Austin Cullen (photography and printmaking) and Sarah Jentsch (printmaking). An artist talk will be held April 1 at 4:00 p.m. in Richards Hall, Room 15. A closing reception will be held April 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the gallery.

The third round will take place from April 4-8 and will feature the work of Eddy Leonel Aldana (photography) and Amber Boris (sculpture). An artist talk will be held April 8 at 4 p.m. in Room 15 of Richards Hall. A reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 6 in the gallery.

The final round runs from April 11-15 and features the work of Dehmie Dehmlow (ceramics) and Hannah Demma (printmaking). An artist talk will take place on April 15 at 4 p.m. in Room 15 of Richards Hall. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 15 in the gallery.

The four series of artist talks will also be available via Zoom.

General hours for the MFA Thesis exhibitions take place from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Admission is free and the gallery is open to the public.

Below you will find more information about the artists and their exhibitions.

Allison Arkush | It won’t be easy

As an interdisciplinary and multimedia artist, Arkush’s practice engages a wide and fluctuating range of materials, modalities and research. She works primarily in the fields of sculpture and installation, which increasingly include her poetry, as well as audio and video components. His personal, ever-emerging and ever-changing lexicon of metaphorical symbols and motifs connects and deepens the narratives within his work. These individual symbols are ‘germunits’, each representing a single sprouted concept/object that has proliferated and taken on new, deeply rooted and life-giving associations and meanings through its practice.

Arkush was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. In 2010, she moved across the country to attend New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While NYU, she studied studio art, psychology and the intersection of these two disciplines. She graduated magna cum laude. In the following years, Arkush taught ceramics classes, worked as a studio technician and later as a studio manager, among many odd jobs.

Maddie Auger | idylls

In her artist statement, Aunger writes, “In ‘Idylls’, moments of calm, stillness and clarity reflect my experience of the domestic spaces of my life and how I encounter them. Superimposed spaces and interstices, such as windows and alleys, create interactions between different places and between paintings… . My work evokes the feelings of comfort I find in the little bits of pleasure sprinkled throughout the average day. The paintings document a specific place and time and provide snapshots of a period in my life.

Aunger grew up in St. Louis, Mo. She completed her undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, a minor in Art History, and a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts in drawing.

Austin Cullen | A natural history (built to be seen)

In his artist statement, Cullen writes, “’A Natural History (Built to Be Seen)’ is a series of observations of the absurd and humane ways in which the natural world is presented in museums. As someone who grew up regularly visiting natural history museums, I have always been fascinated by the extravagant way museums framed the American landscape…. I want to understand how natural history museums and the American landscape influence each other.

Cullen is a photographer and printmaker from Houston, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2019. He first became interested in photography in high school.

Sarah Jentsch | Ghosts shed tears

“The Ghosts Shed Tears” is a series of paintings and drawings that explore narratives of personal and universal emotions. Jentsch writes in her artist statement: “These works center on my experiences of femininity; the frustration of interaction, the fear of physical and psychological harm, and the tension of inhabiting a body capable of creating life with or without my permission. Using a variety of symbols derived from the traditions of mythologies and fables, these works exist in a strange universe where reality is filtered through a lens of magical realism.

Jentsch is an artist from Star, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2018.

Eddy Leonel Aldana | I have to go

Aldana writes in his artist statement: “’Me tengo que ir’ means ‘I have to go’. “I have to go,” as in go home, return to my home country, hang up the phone or die. ‘Me tengo que ir’ focuses on my family’s place in the Guatemalan diaspora and my reliance on memory and history to examine my own identity. To exist within the diaspora involves displacement, emigration and deportation, as well as uncertainty, loss and absence; most of them stemming from nationalism, colonization and we interference…. “Me tengo que ir” consists of photographs and videos that aim to provide insight into the role that the we played in the destabilization of Guatemala and how we immigration laws have affected families like mine.

Aldana is a Latinx artist from Clarksburg, Md. He is first-generation Guatemalan-American and his video and photographic work focuses on his family’s experience within the Guatemalan diaspora and examines his own identity. Her work explores themes of displacement, migration and loss, among others.

Amber Boris | I want to go home

Boris writes in his artist statement: “The importance of a house lies in the memories of the space. “I Want to Go Home” is a body of work that explores this idea through a collection of sculptures and drawings representing my childhood home. This house is meaningful to me not only because it’s where I grew up, but because it was also my mother’s childhood home. Six generations of our family have passed through the house, creating a long history of stories, memories and associated emotions. I built scaled-down sculptures of rooms to keep those memories alive. The spaces are left empty, allowing the viewer to watch and imagine what happened there.

Boris is an artist who focuses on sculpture and drawing. She is originally from New Jersey and received her BFA from the Corcoran School of Art + Design at George Washington University in May 2017.

Dehmie Dehmlow | The bonding of bricks

Dehmlow writes in his artist statement: “I work as an interdisciplinary artist creating modular sculptures and ceramic vessels. I build with found and salvaged materials/objects, and fabricated structures to create dynamic three-dimensional compositions. These assemblages emphasize the potential of each component found, retrieved and crafted as a form of action and vitality. My practice is fueled by the imagination. I envision a new collaborative life for found materials/objects which then fulfill a structural and compositional need within the whole of a sculpture. Moments of familiarity and play are created through designed mechanisms of implicit function and use.

Dehmlow grew up in Denver, Colorado. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Ceramics and Premedical Sciences from Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 2014. She worked as a caregiver for the elderly and adults with disabilities while earning her bachelor’s degree and in the years since. In 2017-2018 she worked as a ceramics intern at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. She was selected as an emerging artist in 2019 at Clay Studio in Philadelphia.

Hannah Dema | Salt in our bones

Demma writes in her artist statement, “I look to the natural world for inspiration in my work. I play the scientist and the studio is my laboratory. I observe, hypothesize and experiment. Then I interpret and process my findings. I am captivated by the variety of flora and fauna, as well as the relationships between animals and their environment. I’m curious about cause and effect in the natural world (including the disastrous impact humans have had on ecosystems, like coral reefs). Everything is connected, for better and for worse. There are arguments to be made that humans are nature. There is no separation, no line we can draw between things.

Demma is an avid outdoorswoman, outdoor educator, and lifelong Nebraskan. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2017. In 2018, she received the Kimmel Foundation Emerging Artist Award and a Mayor’s Art Award. Her passion for arts education brought her to Lincoln, Montana, where she spent a month directing educational programming at an outdoor sculpture park, Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild. She was also the coordinator of the Cedar Point Biological Station Art Program and Art Adventure Camp.


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