Intro by John Weber

Exhibition Catalog Introduction

    At a time when much of the public discourse is engaged in establishing a worldview of simple polarities, the students of the M.F.A. program at Mills College are presenting an exhibition that is complex, tender, and even humorous. The quality of the work and the care that is taken in the presentation (a hallmark of students in the Mills program) is apparent to the viewer immediately upon entering the light filled galleries at the Mills College Art Museum.

    This year’s M.F.A. exhibition features the work of twelve artists who have spent the past two years in an intense dialogue with the faculty of Mills College and with one another.

    The sly humor of several of the artists, including Nomi Talisman (who is presenting short films), Tamalyn Miller (who has developed a bonsai made of poison oak), Sylvia Min (who has created hybridized portraits of members of the class and who in another project requests that the visitors lend her their shoes), as well as Lisa Solomon (who has created an afghan blanket out of speaker wire), are in contrast to the formal considerations in other artists’ work. For example, James Sterling Pitt (who has created dramatic floor and wall pieces that question the boundaries between painting and sculpture) and Rosana Castrillo Díaz (who has installed a screen of micro thin white tape that not only blurs the boundaries between drawing and sculpture but the boundaries between the perceptible and the invisible). Amy Hibbs also explores the issue of the visible and the invisible in a radically different fashion with her sounds sculptures (one is on the wall, the other has been built completely in the wall). Other artists have a more romantic approach including Soffía Sæmundsdóttir (who has drawn monumental landscapes inspired by her native Iceland), Kristine Fitzgerald (who has a shadow box and has photographed miniature domestic interiors she has created) and Mark Allen Soderstrom (who has created a mini-museum in the museum to showcase objects based on personal and historical myths). Finally, Mary Hull Webster (who has created striking images on large light boxes) and Connie M. Begg (who is showing photographs and videos of images of eating and consumption) share a strong graphic approach to their work that is both iconic and personal.

    I strongly encourage you to visit this exhibition in person as it features the most sophisticated and subtle new talent in the Bay Area.

Stephan F.F. Jost
Director, Mills College Art Museum