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Graduate thesis exhibit explores Muslim ban, mass surveillance, and more

The 2018 Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition features work by seven UMBC graduate students who are expected to receive Master’s degrees in Intermedia and Digital Arts in spring 2018. The exhibition addresses topics such as isolation, diversity, mass surveillance and the complex role of language in expressing embodied experience in sound, text and video. The exhibition was organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture in association with the Intermedia and Digital Arts Program. The student exhibit showcases the culmination of each graduate’s experience in the UMBC MFA program.

Mollye Bendell’s piece Wander/Wonder explores the nature of speculation through two separate but connected apps: Wander, a street map of Baltimore city that only displays psychic reader businesses; and Wonder, a fly-through digital astral plane. Users roll a crystal ball to control both sides of the project simultaneously. Bendell says, “my hope is that the UMBC community will take more interest in electronic and interactive media. The skills I learned to build this piece are a logical next step for many of our undergraduates.”

Another student artist, Parastoo Aslanbeik, made an installation that explores discriminatory policies targeted towards immigrants, such as President Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim countries. Her piece combines an old photographic technique called wet plate collodion with sound, light and sculpture. For instance, one of her art pieces uses tree branches and cardboard boxes as a metaphor for equality.

Kusum Dhakal, a senior business & technology major, states, “I really like Aslanbeik’s piece because it is based on such a big issue recently. I think her art would help in bringing solidarity within the community by creating a dialogue about the discrimination faced by many immigrants. Events like the MFA Thesis Exhibition are a great platform for students to express their ideas and thoughts in a visually compelling way.”

“The event is fascinating because it brings so many different talented people together. This can inspire others who don’t know much about the arts and design field. It’s eye-opening to see those seven graduate being able to share their experience and work with us,” said Rabia Cheema, a sophomore computer science major. Towards the end of the event, several attendees stayed to ask student artists questions about their pieces.

The current exhibit features works by Parastoo Aslanbeik, Mollye Bendell, Jeffrey L. Gangwisch, Christopher Kojzar, MJ Neuberger, Mitchell Noah and Idil Yakut. The exhibition is free and is located in the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture inside of the Fine Arts Building. The exhibition is open from April 3 through April 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.