- Emily Warren
- "The Station" by Emily Warren, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36″
Earlier this month, Memphis College of Arts’ final graduating class attended the school’s very last commencement ceremony, albeit in a virtual setting. An especially unprecedented and poignant moment in itself, that was not the only final tradition the now-shuttered arts college had to take online.
Toward the end of every semester, each graduating class contributes works of art to a final BFA exhibition, which is typically held on campus grounds. This year, however, the exhibition, entitled “Intrepidly Yours,” is being featured on MCA’s 2020 BFA website, featuring works from 33 students ranging in media and genres from comics books to animations to sculptural works.
“Every semester, Tom Lee, who’s one of our professors and who is tasked with working with the seniors, and I worked with the students from the first week of the semester getting this together,” says Olivia Wall, coordinator of external engagement for MCA. “We were about halfway through the process when everything went a little crazy. The students had done half of the work, but then all of a sudden, we had to very quickly shift to working with the students to make sure that whatever they were making could come to fruition online.”
To pull off the final exhibition, Wall and Lee worked with students and their advisors to develop plans to make sure they were able to get their final BFA contributions finished, despite possible lack of materials and space.
- Larry D. Springfield, Jr.
- "The Shaman of Oz" by Larry D. Springfield, Jr., 2019, digital illustration, 14 x 11″
“For the most part, every single student was able to have their work done in a way that they wanted it to,” she says. “I know there were a few students who maybe had to do a couple less things than they were planning just because they weren't able to get materials or they weren’t able to make sculptures at home.”
Despite the challenges, students were still able to develop works pertaining to their degrees in sculpture, painting and drawing, illustration, graphic design, comics, metals, and animation.
Wall, who is an alumna of MCA herself, says that she remembers the importance of participating in her senior art show, and while MCA’s final graduating class did it a little differently this semester, they’re still getting the experience, plus some new skills for the future.
“This is just like a traditional show,” she says. “It is something for their resume. It is a professional experience. And, differently from an in-person show, whereas that’s a whole different way of working with a gallery, there are so many galleries and museums that are switching to online. And even how students are applying for jobs is going to be more online-focused. This gave them the opportunity to learn how to submit files digitally and how to size and format their work so that it translates well on the internet. I think those are skills that are very important, particularly with the situation at hand.”
“Intrepidly Yours: The Spring 2020 BFA Exhibition” is on view until February 2021 through mca2020bfa.com.