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

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

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Past Exhibition

Sean Glover, exhibition photo
Jesha Chen, exhibition photo
Daniel Luchman, exhibition photo
Courtney Dow, exhibition photo
James Robert Southard, exhibition photo


Carnegie Mellon 2011 MFA Thesis Exhibition

Organized by the School of Art
March 18 - April 17, 2011

Artists: Sean Glover, Jesha Chen, Daniel Luchman, Courtney Dow, James Robert Southard

About the Exhibition

"I am writing on the threshold of the MFA thesis exhibition, where each year the graduate students extend themselves to produce something extraordinary. This stretching of imagination and ambition creates an adrenaline-fueled run-in for all concerned. Jesha will push the envelope; Sean will produce yet another magical bricolage; Dan will combine the poetic and the profound; Rob will puzzle us with some photographic conundrums; and Courtney will present us with a wry intellectual challenge. This year’s exhibit promises to be bold, ingenious, thought-provoking, and tinged with humor. I have seen them develop their work and grow in confidence over the last three years, through a mutually supportive camaraderie, which has seen them through their Carnegie Mellon journey. All have had to reappraise the notions they arrived with, and have undergone a rigorous period of critical evaluation, in order to recognize their fundamental motivations and to refine their mode of practice. Not only does this exhibit showcase their talent and considerable achievements, but it also represents the philosophy of the MFA program, which is to produce self-defined artists of exceptional ability and initiative, able to create opportunities for themselves and connect meaningfully with the communities and cultures around them.

Courtney, Dan, Jesha, Rob and Sean have certainly met these aspirations and I look forward to their further success."

- John Carson,
Head of the School of Art + Regina and Marlin Miller Professor,
Carnegie Mellon University

About the Artists

Sean Glover
I am interested in an excavation of the tensions between aesthetic and political approaches to material forces in history. By studying the history of objects, one is able to uncover their awkward, unsuspecting, and provocative relations, their hold on our imaginations, their impact on our most intimate, as well as our most public interactions. Objects seem to be impervious to what humans think of them. We design them.  We use them. But, how do they act upon us?  I wonder how military sound ranging devices merged with traditional fresco painting can serve as an archeology of the present moment. I am curious about how the carvings by a robotic mill into discarded foam insulation can echo with both whimsy and the grotesque. How do the presence and the performance of these objects resonate in tandem with our understanding of the past?

Jesha Chen
“A live improvised mockumentary exploring the nature of non-linear time, the impermanent fluidity of reality, AND the exponential possibilities of existence.” – Michelle Carello

“★ ★ ★ ★!! One of the year’s best productions!!!” – Los Angels Times

“It's not an easy feeling to describe: it's whimsical yet hard-hitting; cute but completely serious; ominously inviting, like the Grand Canyon; terrifying but kind and caring.” – Jonathan Minard

“It’s not fundamentally about popcorn, either, but about the search for meaning and the consoling satisfaction of finding the patterns that define and describe both the physical universe and individual human lives.” – New Yok Times

Daniel Luchman
Human history reveals itself as a complex collection of methods for exploiting people and resources, yet, this legacy is accompanied by a cultural archive of knowledge, mass knowledge, and this is the true fruit of civilization. The power structures that maintain civilization are the costs of this knowledge, as they also preserve cultural memory (obsessive self-catalogue, as if unconsciously hyper-aware of its own transient existence). At this expense I view knowledge as a powerful, almost sacred material. Through my work I actively merge rational and intuitive forms of thinking with a fluid practice that builds upon itself in continual layers. Many projects exist as open-ended situations, as structures with a void of undefined potential content. Gradually, overtime, I fill that void by continually leaping into it. This is a universal inquiry, the pursuit of the unknown, it is a fundamental drive, and I trust in this pursuit.

Courtney Dow
My work examines architectures of the familiar, often focusing on the minute and overlooked as a nod to monumental patterns or inevitabilities. In this installation, stacked elements of sound, text, image, and experience merge to explore three certainties of life: food, death, and family. These themes are conveyed within a constructed suburban family room setting. Pictures hang. A movie plays. Ideas surface about idiosyncratic traditions and rituals of consumption, legacy and inheritance, communion and community, iconography, normalcy, and the subtle rewards of mundane day-to-day interactions.

James Robert Southard
I wish to better understand the role of violence and war that is ingrained in our natural instincts. The visuals of battle and bloodshed are still honored in our society through entertainment and I look to reenact my own childhood relationship with these traits. The stages and miniature sets used in science fictions films of the 20th century provide a rich source of inspiration for my body of work, exploring the active role of the viewer and offering a chance to construct a larger context. Side by side, these two series display my interest in the construction of fictional worlds, escapism, and the relationship between artificiality and reality through digitally constructed photography.


March 18, Fri.

March 22, Tues.
Critique and discussion with Tina Kukielski
Associate Curator, Carnegie Museum of Art