May 20, 2012

MECA graduate students produce witty and worthy show


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"Kaufmann Way #1" by Eric Vaughn.

Courtesy photo

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"Power: Serpents" by Manjiree Manolkar.

Courtesy photo


WHAT: Maine College of Art's MFA Thesis Exhibition (11 artists, various media)

WHERE: Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, 22 Congress St., Portland

WHEN: Through June 3 HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; until 7 p.m. Thursdays

COST: Free

INFO: 775-3052; meca.ed/ica

This handsome (and no doubt expensive) object is fractured but rhythmically appealing, like an hour's experience of a street musician.

Shirah Neumann's paintings are thick and heavily worked with dense colors. The strongest -- an asymmetrical diptych -- immediately struck me as intelligently engaged with Gideon Bok's work. But Neumann's work seems a bit forced, as though process and studio practice were more important to her than the way they look.

I really like Kim Vose Jones' installation, "I felt it shelter to speak to you." It features a wall grouping of red airplane neck rests. These have a comically brash labial quality. The piece also includes red silk ropes (vessels and nerves?), felt (discarded clothes? Skin?), and used IV bags -- empty except for the one above the large central almond form.

The whole thing is quite simply a meditation on female sexual arousal. Sure, it's a little over-determined, but it's a hilariously wonderful bit of feminine sexuality.

While the 2012 MECA MFA show is particularly solid and interesting, I hope it becomes the overt cultural habit of the local art audience to see as many thesis shows as possible from the likes of MECA, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, Bowdoin, Southern Maine Community College, and so on.

It would be great if the schools got together to produce a publication directory of all such shows for next year.


Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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