Lights, Camera, MFA Show

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After two years of working long hours in their studios, meeting with countless advisers, reading visual theory, and pushing the limits and possibilities of their own practices, the annual California College of the Arts MFA Show has arrived.

It's MFA show season, and the Bay Area is just the place. CCA is one among several interesting Fine Arts programs showcasing their graduating MFA students this month. Diverse programs such as The San Francisco Art Institute (May 14-21 at the Winery in Treasure Island), UC Berkeley (May 20, 2011 - June 26 at the Berkeley Art Museum), and Mills College (May 1-29 at The Mills College Art Museum) all promise dynamic, not-to-be-missed shows.

Before the CCA exhibition opened on Tuesday, the place was in full install mode. After all of the walls were repainted a creamy white, the graduating students, ranging from frantic to sleepy, buzzed around excitedly (or was it exhaustedly?) putting the final touches on their work. The program, which will graduate over forty MFA students this year, is interdisciplinary, and the show is expectedly diverse.

The MFA show marks the end of a thrilling and tiring few years for these emerging artists, and the beginning of a new life in the "real" art world. Leaving behind the safety and community of school is never easy; it is particularly tricky when the economy is still bleak. But there is an overpowering excitement in the passage into the unknown and the possibilities it holds for young artists. Sarah Hotchkiss's work perfectly encapsulates these mixed feelings. Upon entering the large CCA exhibition, the viewer is greeted with hanging banner letters, which read, in part: "Hi, welcome to a suspended future." How very true.

Volunteer workers prep the walls

Sarah Hotchkiss readies her installation

Two students ponder the placement of a painting

Sarah Hotchkiss's work installed

Jillian Clark's finishing touches

Rachel Dawson Hamaoui works on her textpiece

In-progress installation

Daniel Dallabrida's piece

Victoria DeBlassie's structure, made of orange peels

Mark Benson's sculpture

Noah Krell's video piece

A lone sculpture waits to be installed

California College of the Arts MFA 2011 Show runs through May 21, 2011 at The California College of the Arts San Francisco Campus. For more information, visit


All photos c. Carmen Winant.