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docPress release: The Pittsburgh Banal

































Miller Gallery
at Carnegie Mellon University
Purnell Center for the Arts
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Tues.-Sun., 12-6pm
Closed Mondays

Free and open to the public

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Matt Barton
William Cravis
Takehito Etani
Jesse Hulcher
Thomas Sturgill
Tiffany Sum


Carnegie Mellon 2006 MFA Thesis Exhibition

March 24 - April 19, 2006


March 24, Fri. 6-8PM:
Opening Reception

About the Exhibition

The Pittsburgh Banal, the 2006 Carnegie Mellon University School of Art Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition, will open with a reception and performances from 5–8 p.m. Friday, March 24, 2006 in the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Susanne Slavick, head of the School of Art, praises the success of this year’s MFA graduates. “Their success contributes to Carnegie Mellon’s standing among the top ten MFA programs in the nation. Given this stature, their achievement, and the camaraderie and humor they have shared, the exhibit title’s punning allusion to ‘biennial’ is (not surprisingly) tongue-in cheek. It is an invitation to anything but banality!”

Featured in this year’s exhibition are Matt Barton, William Cravis, Takehito Etani, Jesse Hulcher, Thomas Sturgill and Tiffany Sum. The students will give noon gallery talks about their work as well: Cravis and Hulcher on April 4th; Barton and Etani on Wednesday, April 5th; and Sturgill and Sum on Thursday, April 6. All events are free and open to the public.

About the Artists

Matt Barton
For the Pittsburgh Banal, Matt Barton creates a new installation, described as “a bewildering simulation of a collapse of time and space that merges traditional natural history museum dioramas with popular culture entertainment, inspired by Chuck E Cheese animatronics and rural American folk art.” The work invites viewers to explore and interact with an overtly physical representation of the metaphysical.

William Cravis
William Cravis’ Materiality represents the dividing line between two distinct bodies of sculptural work pursued while at Carnegie Mellon. “One group,” he writes, “flaunts an array of rich materials – glazed ceramics, cast silicone rubber, idiosyncratic ‘readymades’; the second group is composed of recyclable material only. [It is] a binary practice: costly material versus discarded matter; permanent versus transitory; meaningful versus meaningless; flesh versus spirit.”

Takehito Etani
Pimp My Heart is the title of Takehito Etani’s planned performance/vehicle intervention involving an invented HBBB (HeartBeat Bass Booster) system to amplify the heartbeat of a car driver. Through a real time interface with a beefed-up aftermarket automobile audio system, the intervention/invention ultimately unifies car and driver. By hacking the technology that is often used as psychological armor and territory-marking tool in a contemporary urban environment, the project turns the body/vehicle relationship inside-out, addressing the vulnerability of the human body and emotion as it aims to understand our obsession with automobiles and their modifications. The performance will be staged during the opening reception on Friday, March 24th, from 5-8 PM.

Jesse Hulcher
Jesse Hulcher boldy declares, “Being a true success is hard work. Becoming a failure is easy….My current video work sees me seeking to fail. I try to fail compositionally, technically, conceptually and creatively. I want to become the most successful failure that I can be.” Hulcher’s deliberately self-deprecating stance positions his work as an exploration of humor as well as of the idea and convention of amateur home videos.

Thomas Sturgill
Thomas Sturgill’s current work stems from confusion – “confusion that results from a situation I thought I understood. I see things, physical and tangible things. I interpret them….I am often wrong.” For this exhibition, Sturgill has constructed “slightly weird” models of Pittsburgh architecture that has provoked contextual confusion. The work is a study of close aesthetic experience with the city’s buildings, exploring the intrinsic attributes of architecture as object.

Tiffany Sum
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Tiffany Sum’s work is rooted in the practice of experimental theater performance. According to the artist, her work “explores the notions of body presence through technology. The actual resonance one can find in technology becomes the amplifier for poetic suggestion. Proximity, choreography and the orchestration of interactivity construct an altered reality in both represented and tangible space-time.” These over-arching ideas are expressed through specific acts and events; in this exhibit, she evokes urban street experiences through interaction with a constructed platform.