MEGA 2017 Finalists

William Marcellus Armstrong

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Graduate Student
www.williammarcellus.com

Security Study Untitled

Artist Statement
The film-maker Maya Deren regarded her work as poetry, in that her films had a sense of“verticality,” rather than being “horizontal.” Poetry intrigues me for its inherent position from a personal place and its efforts to reach the “universal.”

My work can be characterized as a series of studies that look at material from a poetic landscape. My interest in the conceptual understandings of hard and soft materials manifests itself into constructions of personal, political, and social metaphors. Stemming from a dialectical understanding of my own identity, the goal within my work is to subvert the notion that “hard” and”soft” are opposites, but are rather in constant flux between stability and instability. Involved with the notion of “transition,” by queering film techniques developed by Soviet Montage theorists, my practice critically engages with the role of editing in narrative. I am intrigued by the ways time-based media dramatizes and transforms objects. I see this as dual symbolism of the way images are mediated within contemporary society, often moving between truth, fiction, drama and comedy.

Bio
Marcellus is a multidisciplinary artist working between video, sculpture, and installation based work. His projects weave together viral images, mass media, and niche web cultures, examining constructions of identity through popular culture. He has an interest in the poetics of hard and soft material, and transitory states of being. He considers brunch a holiday.

He is a current resident of Highland Park, Michigan, and will receive his Masters in Fiber and Material Studies from Cranbrook Academy of Art this Spring, 2017. His work has exhibited in the cities of New York, Chicago, and Detroit. He is originally from the suburbs of Baltimore.


Prashani Chandrasena

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Graduate Student

Fountain
Fountain

Artist Statement
My work concentrates on Weaving with different techniques and creating structures out of weavings. I see similarities in the weaving structures and architectural structures and try to mimic them in my work.Its not always the literal interpretation sometimes it’s how we feel towards certain spaces certain elements of structure that inspire us and capture our attention.like inserting glass blocks in brick walls, grills above windows, columns, open spaces, in-between spaces.Weaving inspires me; especially double cloth, the ability to create two different structures at the same time amazes me.Within this one weaving is the potential to exchange color texture and pattern.The other type of weaving I’m interested in has the 3 dimensionality with in it’s structure.The in-between spaces this braiding technique creates give the material a tensile quality which also opens up a lot of opportunity for variation and transformation which I’m interested in using in my artworks.

Bio
I’m a graduate student in my first year at Cranbrook academy of Art. I grew up in Sri Lanka most of my lifetime and moved to USA just after graduating from College. My undergraduate major was Fashion and Textile Design. Most my ideas and inspirations have a relation to architectural concepts. During my undergraduate studies I completed one year with architecture students and a semester with design students which was a very interesting multidisciplinary experience within art and design field.


Min-Jen Chang

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Graduate Student
http://minjen-art.info

Glint
Glint

Artist Statement
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Art helps me parse the duplicities and ambiguities in manners and matters. I roam the thicket amidst appearance and reality seeking a common ground in this nonsensical world. As an immigrant from a far away island, an eructing “otherness” wafts through my olfactories from time to time. The inexplicable alienness is like a magnetic fat-suit that forever clings on me. Wanting to break free, I keep jumping off cliffs; if wings don’t sprout, the fat-suit might reduce the hurt from impact. The whys lead me to making. Through the making, more questions arise; hence my works evolve.

In the past two years, I have been contemplating the global mass diaspora issues, especially those who had to cross Mediterranean Sea to seek safety. I share their quandary of being up-rooted. I am awed by their courage to embark on an incomprehensibly harsh journey with but a glimmer of hope and full determination. I am sadden by the countless loss of life through their ordeals. Therefore, I draw on basic human needs like food, shelter, security as instruments for my recent works.

Bio
Min-Jen Chang is a mix media artist from San Francisco, California. Before coming to Cranbrook, she had few years of studio practice, participated in group shows, worked for a graphic design firm, and designed tabletop ceramics for production.


Beibei & Leilei Chen

Kendall College of Art and Design, Graduate Student

Malignant Landscape
Malignant Landscape

Artist Statement
We have attempted to express concerns about environmental issues by portraying microscopic lung cancer cells. The circular composition gives the viewer the impression of looking through a microscope and also through a telescope. While circular composition and white space are representative of traditional Chinese aesthetics, the circle represents the circular and cyclical movement and the flux that keeps revolving and starts all over again. The round shape expresses the non-materialistic Chinese view of life, and the inherent cyclical motion of their conception of life. According to Chinese traditional philosophy, it is well known that Confucianism and Taoism advocate that “man is an integral part of nature,” as they contemplate the natural relations between people, heaven and earth and nature. These philosophies consider that man and nature form a harmonious unity. Cancer cells are present in everyone’s body; they are part of our body, just like humans are part of nature. The fundamental solution to environmental problems should be found in the way we look at ourselves, in the same manner that we look at the relationship between the world and human beings.

Bio
Born in 1977 in Jinzhou, China. Beibei received Undergraduate Degree of Graphic Design in 2003. Subsequent to that she attended the MFA program at the Peking University. Prior to coming to the US, she was Assistant Professors of Art at Liaoning University. Currently, she artist live in US and is pursuing MFA in KCAD.
Beibei has exhibited her works nationally and internationally, including No-Boundaries International Youth Art Exhibition’ at United Nations Headquarters. She received ArtPrize Special Recognition in 2016. Beibei’s creative research also includes the writing and the production of many edited books. Olympics and sculpture, which has been exhibited and permanently collected by the National Museum of China.


Anita Enriquez
*Jurors Choice Award Recipient

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Graduate Student

Hydra, 2016
muslin, gold lamé, batting, cording, hat wire, foam
64” x 15” x 24”
Photo by PD Rearick

Artist Statement
Art is a foolish endeavor. To act in ways that defy logic, function or parts of speech is the domain of folly and creativity. Folly is leveled as a judgement against acting without thought, without prudence. But there is merit in a willingness to take risks and to fail, to be wrong or misunderstood. My work addresses the idea of folly. I attempt to discern the role of folly within our culture through soft sculpture or by turning myself into the fool through performance and video.

In my sculptures I employ architectural devices that promote outmoded notions of cultural pedigree. These soft sculptures are embellished with decorative scrolls and ruffles. Exteriorized seams and remnants of thread expose the handwork of sewing. They undermine the masculine rigidity of architecture and notions of stability with a feminized, soft logic. With scripted performances I awkwardly re-enact gestures of the past preserved in historical diaries, poetry and autobiographies. These texts are forgotten histories we can never fully understand but upon which we structure our understanding of the world and ourselves.

Bio
Anita Enriquez lived in Los Angeles where she made her living as a decorative painter. She earned her BFA summa cum laude from California State University Long Beach in drawing and painting. She then attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she took up the mechanized needle and earned a merit scholarship and a post-baccalaureate. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Fibers at Cranbrook Academy of Art for which she also received two merit scholarships.


Egan Franks

Kendall College of Art & Design, Graduate Student
www.eganfranks.com

Rinkidink
Rinkidink

Artist Statement
There is a sense of directness in what I am working on these days. I currently use pre-mixed house paints on large stretched canvas. Using illustrative imagery and abstract shapes, these paintings depict memories, every day observations, family, total strangers, and my dog. I use the process of piecing together imagery from different memories and stories in order to make up larger, playful, and sometimes awkward compositions. Using flat shapes, cut/paste methods, and paying close attention to a certain aesthetic, there are accessible narratives through structural breakups in my work. Humor, quickness, resourcefulness, memory, and curiosity are all tied in with my art and art practice.

Bio
Egan Franks (b.1991, Detroit) currently lives and works in Grand Rapids. BFA, December 2013, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Angelica Hay

Kendall College of Art and Design, Graduate Student
www.angelicahay.com

An Emptiness Still Leaves a Space
An Emptiness Still Leaves a Space

Artist Statement
This series focuses on the relationship between identity and reproduction, in both an affective and biological contextualization. I began this body of work in an effort to make meaning and find solace after an unexpected loss, using images from my everyday surroundings to confront a recurring sense of grief, alienation, and disappointment. The compartmentalized and disconnected images represent the limited sensory reality that we process during difficult moments, our lack of ability to be present during those periods. Images of DNA, including photos from electrophoresis gels and painted abstract representations, suggest the movement of genetic information and looking critically at our biological bodies and the biological processes that happen within them. Pale yellow, seafoam green, and pink dominate the paintings; a subtle part of my environment, they had taken on the emotional qualities I associated with periods of grief and longing–surreal, contemplative, and serene.

Bio
Angelica Hay is a figurative painter and beat-maker based out of Grand Rapids, MI. In 2009, she received a BS in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University. Angelica is currently attending Kendall College of Art and Design as an MFA. in Painting candidate.


Hallie Hofman

Grand Valley State University, Senior
http://halliehofman2.wixsite.com/lemonhalf/photography

Bed
Baby Blanket

Artist Statement
I am a Visual Studies student working to get my BFA in studio art. As a visual studies student my art ranges from many mediums and forms, with my main focus on the meaning and impact of images and media. I work primarily with video, photography, and messy drawings. I explore multiple styles of art to convey my ideas. Experimentation and spite are large fuels to my creative process; spite can give me incredible motivation and steam, and experimentation encourages me to try new things and allows me to create interesting images. My current focus is attempting to neutralize the charge caused by women in art, while I am also working on withdrawing myself from my work to become less personally exposed.

Bio
Hallie Hofman is a Visual Studies graduate she earned her BFA in studio art. As a visual studies artist her art ranges from many mediums and forms, with her main focus on the meaning and impact of images and media. She works primarily with video and photography, she also explores with multiple styles of art to convey her ideas. Her current focus is attempting to neutralize the charge caused by women in art.


Chelsea Markuson

Michigan State University, Graduate Student
www.chelseamarkuson.com

Ancestral Ladder
Ancestral Ladder

Artist Statement
I am interested in exploring my identity as a descendant of Holocaust survivors, the emotional trauma from war, and the displacement that is felt deeply in our world. This site specific installation is influenced by my family’s experience of anti-semitism and World War II. Ancestral ladder is meant to create a metaphorical connection from earth to heaven. Ladders in Abrahamic religions, like Judaism, symbolize ascension from one reality to another. In this installation, the projection of organic form and metal chain symbolizes a journey for my family who did not survive the atrocities of World War II. The unexpected juxtaposition of hard materials, such as chain, tar paper, and silicon caulk, with religious themes creates a chaotic and disorienting environment. Ancestral ladder encompasses and surrounds the viewer with a controlled chaos, to blur order, while reflecting political, social, and emotional stories of our time.

Bio
Chelsea Markuson is a mixed media artist from Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing from Indiana University Southeast. Chelsea is interested in using personal narratives to portray universal ideas, specifically by the use of diverse materials to create an intersection between drawing, painting, and sculpture. Currently, she is working towards her Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking at Michigan State University.


Emily Mayo

Kendall College of Art and Design, Graduate Student
www.emilyrosemayo.com

Vestige
Vestige

Artist Statement
My work combines ideas of redemption, nostalgia, veneration, and altruism. The materials and visuals from my current body of work are derived from my childhood neighborhood. Reviving these once calamitous materials, I sculpt reverent forms of my past. The forms are reminiscent of religious furniture, monuments, or tombstones – forms that represent a longer story. The visual incompleteness of the sculptures enhance the viewer’s sense of wonder as they visually complete the forms themselves, while attempting to understand it’s structure. The corresponding drawings are used to allegorically describe the visuals of the plight of my childhood neighborhood by contrasting the past and present, the beautiful and the decrepit, and the spiritual and the physical.

Bio
Emily Mayo is a current MFA Drawing Candidate at Kendall College of Art and Design. Working in a variety of mediums such as drawing, photography, printmaking and sculpture, her work focuses on altruism. Her pieces have been showcased in drawing exhibitions around the U.S. including Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and the Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has won several awards in these exhibitions, and her work has been published in two drawing instructional books.


Erin Miller

Eastern Michigan University, Graduate Student
www.erinrmiller.com

Artists Own Textile Waste
Artists Own Textile Waste

Artist Statement
I am deeply concerned with the human relationship with cloth. Humans spend a significant amount of time physically interacting with textiles, but contemporarily very little time thinking about  them. Cloth is something that we know intimately with our whole bodies, but its place in our lives has become mostly an afterthought. My consideration of our current experience with cloth has led me to investigate  other materials that may now be considered nearly its equal in that respect.

Bio
Erin Miller is currently an MFA candidate in Fibers at Eastern Michigan University and her BFA in Textiles was completed at Kent State University. Her work has been featured in publications such as Surface Design Journal and Shuttle, Spindle, and Dye pot. Recent exhibitions include Fiber Art International in Pennsylvania and a solo show at The Neon Heater gallery in Ohio. Last summer she was awarded a grant through the Toledo Museum of Art to complete a residency at The Glasgow Independent Studio in Scotland.


Steven Miner

Kendall College of Art and Design, Senior
www.stevenjohnminer.com

Chevelle
Chevelle

Artist Statement
This work has been shot during my time living in Grand Rapids, Michigan focusing on the cities west side. I have always had an interest in spaces that appear to have just lost their function or inhabitance. Photography enables a certain approach to looking that creates both truth and importance to otherwise overlooked occurrences. My fascination lies in the stillness of these spaces that appear as if someone has just walked away from them.

Bio
Steven Miner (b.1993) is a photographic artist currently living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Miner is currently studying photography at Kendall College of Art and Design and will receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography in the Spring of 2017. His interests in photography are split between both fine art and commercial practices. His work is concerned with the deterioration of utilitarian space and infrastructure.


Jing Ouyang

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Graduate Student

Namo Amitabha
Namo Amitabha

Artist Statement
Namo Amitabha is a meditation cushion that evokes Mother Buddha’s Lotus on which the resting Buddha is often portrayed. Meditation is the path to be reborn into the Pure Land where the Buddha resides. The Kwan-yin Buddha who rests on their lotus flower advise people to be mindful. Be aware of what vanity brings to us.

My practice walks in between the past and the present. In between the East and the West. In between art and design. The 21st century is a challenge for China. As a Chinese millennial, I witnessed our rapid economic growth and how we have adapted to the new lifestyle of pursuing vanity and desire. There’s an urgent call for reshaping our cultural identity as a whole. I search for a new identity within the domestic environment. The objects, the interior, and the rhythms that form Chinese homes where our traditions first started.

Bio
In-Betweener Jing Ouyang has equal amount of Chinese and American in her. Born and raised in China, and this is her 6th year living in the United States. Living in between places gave her the ability to understand the her origin more. Ouyang’s work has exhibited at Salone del Mobile in Milan, Domaine de Boisbuchet in France, and Collective Design Fair in New York City.


Melody Posthuma

Grand Valley State University, Senior
www.melodyjposthuma.com

uncarved
uncarved

Artist Statement
Melody Posthuma’s group piece, Yada, and solo work, uncarved, explore themes of relational living and the affects of our life experiences. The word Yada originates from Hebraic text, meaning intimacy through experiential knowledge. As the piece progresses, the dancers shift from notions of a disconnected, driven culture to display vulnerability. Melody’s solo work, uncarved, was inspired by an ancient Chinese value in humanity’s natural state. To be our truest selves, we must consider how our experiences shape us, while connecting back to the core of who we are, the uncarved state from which we began. Melody engages in a series of movement formulation and retrogression to relay these concepts.

Bio
Melody began dancing at age four at Turning Pointe School of Dance, and continued her training at numerous studios including Happendance School of Dance, Danceworks of Michigan LLC, Class Act Studio of Dance, and Elite Dance Company. During her time at Grand Valley State University, she has performed pieces by guest artists Kathryn Alter, Richard Bowman, Ann Sofie Clemmensen, Bryn Cohn, Francesca Harper Project, Mina Estrada, Marlayna Locklear, Joshua Manculich, Leslie Scott, Takehiro Ueyama, and Jesse Zaritt. In the Spring of 2017, she will graduate with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management, Entrepreneurship, and Dance.


Kyle Sharkey

Wayne State University, Graduate Student
www.kylesharkey.com

Brink
Brink

Artist Statement
These images confront the uncertain and variable line between pain and pleasure. Painting with materials that mirror the positive and negative aspects of the body question the certainty of those experiences. Through the construction of figures and environments which reference the abject, these images distort the recollection of what is mentally and physically painful, pleasurable, or both.

Bio
Kyle Sharkey’s heavily texture figures reference colors, texture, and forms found inside and outside of the body to represent the symbiotic relationship between pain and pleasure. He seeks to intermingle base and traditional mediums to represent experiences of trauma, deformation, and aging to illuminate how the notion of pain and pleasure are formed and, at times, be synonymous. He graduated in 2014 with his BFA from Kendall College of Art & Design and currently is a second-year MFA student at Wayne State University.


Angela Two Stars

Kendall College of Art and Design, Senior

Almost Fractaled
Almost Fractaled

Artist Statement
Language, by definition, is a body of words and systems for their use common to people who are of the same community, geographical area, or the same cultural traditions. It is a tool through which to communicate thoughts and emotions. Native American languages are regional entities that identify specific tribal nations in respect to their people, culture, stories, and ceremonies. With the undeniable presence, actions, and effects of assimilation, boarding school trauma, and incomplete generation-to-generation learning of Native American languages, the potential loss of these languages is imminent. My work explores the Dakota language of my tribe, the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. My desire is to raise awareness of the endangered status of Native American languages. By incorporating the Dakota alphabet, words, phrases, songs, prayers, symbols, and stories within my artwork, I bring attention to the revitalization efforts in progress to retain Native American languages.

Bio
Angela Two Stars is a Native American contemporary artist, and an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Having grown up on an Indian reservation has guided Angela’s personal identity exploration as an artist, and she holds the values of respect, honor, family, and community as important influences of her work. Returning to reside in her hometown of Sisseton, South Dakota a few years ago, allowed a more in-depth engagement of her culture and language, which provided a connection with the treasured elder speakers of her tribe. These connections have fueled her current work of incorporating the Dakota language into her art, as a way to bring awareness to the importance of preserving Native American languages.


Jessica Wildman

Wayne State University, Graduate Student
http://60wrdmin.org/artwork/3894831_Jessica_Wildman.html

We’re Not in Kmart Anymore

Artist Statement
Bringing personal objects into my art practice began as an attempt to simplify. It made sense that the familiar, if not intimate, would lay a solid foundation for meaningful work. Studying my own clothing, utilitarian items, and mementos, has revealed an ever deepening cache of complexities where the work arrives at questions rather than answers. I’m interested in how value and gender are ascribed to objects and subverting those norms. An interest in the relationships between human, object, and environment has sustained my practice. In that regard, contemporary Midwest culture and landscape are inherent to the work, which focuses on the ritualistic transformation of personal objects in combination with photography, video and performance.

Bio
Jessica Wildman is a visual artist born and raised in the Lakes Area suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Her practice is invested in the poetic transformation of personal objects as they relate to contemporary Midwest culture and identity. Wildman’s creative research earned her an Award of Excellence from the Academy of Scholars at Wayne State University in 2013 where she graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in sculpture and photography that same year. Exhibited nationally, her work has been awarded the Bud Bernstein Endowed Prize, the Linda Marlene Iden Scholarship in Fine Art, and two Undergraduate Research Grants. She is currently based in Detroit and a MFA candidate in Fibers at Wayne State University.

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