Preview: CCAD MFA Thesis exhibition

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive
"Excavated," By Alex Conrad

Opening this weekend is an exhibit that features work from Columbus College of Art and Design's first graduating MFA class. It's going to be smashing. Literally.

"I think it's going to be a great show," said Ric Petry, director of graduate studies. "The work is wide ranging. … There's a glassblower, Chris Harman, who invites you to break his work. The glass pieces will be sitting on pedestals and shelves, and you can use a hammer and smash it, and then the broken pieces are put back on the pedestal. He's exploring people's willingness to do something like that."

Harman is one of 11 students showing in "First: The 2012 New Projects MFA Thesis Exhibition." The artists have spent the past two semesters working on these final projects.

The MFA program at CCAD is not medium-specific, so the exhibition is full of styles:video, sculpture, photography, poetry as visual art, fabric design and paintings.

"The program is not only about making better art," Petry said. "It also stresses the importance of being able to describe, communicate, budget and plan more complex projects and get them done in a certain amount of time."

Among the art that visitors will see is a sculpture by Virginia Kistler. It is a 20-foot-long piece made from computer router-cut panels of satellite photographs of Columbus at night. The way the panels are hung vertically beside each other makes the artwork look "almost like a magnification of a giant virus, like something you'd see in a microscope," Petry said. "It's like this micro/macro version of what the city looks like. [Kistler] is really interested in issues like how we're using space and mapping, and how things look when they're very big and very small."

Giving students the opportunity to explore a concept like that is just half of the curriculum of the new two-year master's program. It also teaches students about art as a business.

"Across the institution, there's a realization that we need to step up our entrepreneurial and business sensibility for artists to be competitive in a creative community," Petry said.

This inaugural exhibit is a chance to see how CCAD's master's program could shape the local arts scene in the future.

CCAD's Canzani Center Gallery

March 30-April 27

60 Cleveland Ave., Downtown