Poignant works grace special fall MFA Thesis Exhibitions at Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Tyler School of Art & Architecture at Temple University announces a special fall cohort of its annual MFA Thesis Exhibitions, involving 8 solo shows by interdisciplinary artists whose work responds to the difficult social, political, and environmental events of the past year. Tyler's fall MFA Thesis Exhibitions will be on view October 20, 2021- December 18, 2021; the exhibitions change every week, each exhibition opens on Wednesday and closes on Sunday.

Two hands in orange gloves, one scooping dirt on top of green clovers on the ground, the other grasping a pink and white textured surface on the ground.
Vatina Cangelosi. Openings (still), 2021. Video with handmade paper, gloves, trowel, soil and clover.

During a year of distance, disruption and social turmoil, MFA students in Tyler’s Class of 2021 found inspiration in introspection and the provocative to create poignant works that explore identity, familial bonds, political constructs, and the fragility of nature.

The Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University is pleased to announce a special fall 2021 cohort of its annual MFA Thesis Exhibitions, the culmination of two years of intensive artistic and critical development for the school’s Master of Fine Arts candidates.

These solo shows, which run weekly until December 18, present the works of eight graduates whose interdisciplinarity reflect the distinctive attributes of Tyler’s MFA programs. The shows will conclude the thesis exhibitions for the Class of 2021. More than two dozen graduate students exhibited works in solo and group shows during the spring 2021 semester. See all participating students here.

Two values critical to the Tyler MFA experience are adaptability and resilience — qualities magnified by the pursuit of creative expression throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyler students bonded as a close-knit community despite challenges, and found ways to support and witness each other’s progress in the eerie quiet of often solitary practice.

The works they produced engage with personal, social, political and environmental issues, as well as “the paradox of ubiquitous absence—the absence of physical contact, the presence of longing, and the experience of feeling alone,” wrote Tyler’s Dean and art historian Susan E. Cahan in Intersections, Tyler’s annual catalog of graduating MFA students’ work.

With extensive overlap across mediums and disciplines, the artists present an eclectic collection of work — from video performances digging in mud to debris-flecked ceramic columns and vessels, animations translating woven forms for digital display, and small-scale sculptural installations that function as narrative tableaus.

Their visual lexicons unfold through two-dimensional, three-dimensional and time-based formats, some interweaving all three to create sharp juxtapositions and powerful metaphors regarding environmental disaster, kinship and the desire for human connection.

“Besides ubiquitous themes that have heightened saliency today, we’ve seen a blending of materials and practice that speaks to new ways of seeing and interpreting how art can function for personal and political expression,” said Tyler Associate Dean Chad Curtis.

“We have also witnessed the force of our community this year— with the MFAs sharing their expertise with each other to deepen and amplify individual practice. This has strengthened the quality of their work and resulted in a community with special connections.”

The exhibitions will be on the ground floor of Tyler School of Art and Architecture on Temple University’s Main Campus in Philadelphia, at N. 12th and E. Norris Streets. New exhibitions are shown every Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Tyler’s MFA Class of 2021 joins a distinguished alumni community that includes Barbara Chase-Riboud (BFA ‘57); Hannah Wilke (BFA ‘62); Albert Paley (MFA ‘69); Moe Brooker, (BFA ’70, MFA ‘72); Dennis Adams (MFA ‘71); Laurie Simmons (BFA ‘71); Allan Edmunds (BFA ’71, MFA ‘75); Martha Jackson Jarvis (BFA ‘75); Polly Apfelbaum (BFA ‘78); Jean Foos (MFA ‘78); Edgard Heap of Birds (MFA ‘79); Harriete Estel Berman (MFA ’80); Lisa Yuskavage (BFA ‘84); Lisa Sigal (BFA ‘85); Angela Dufresne (MFA ‘89); John Hatfield (MFA ‘89); Carl Fudge (MFA ‘90); Anoka Faruqee (MFA ‘97); Trenton Doyle Hancock (MFA ‘00); Will Villalongo (MFA ‘01); Jennifer Packer (BFA ‘07); Doreen Garner (BFA ‘09); Erin Riley (MFA ‘09); Amber Cowan (MFA ‘11); Erica Prince (MFA ’12); Jeffrey Meris (BFA ‘15); Kara Springer (MFA ‘17); and Ayana Evans (MFA ‘00); among many others.


Tyler offers graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees and certificates within 22 academic programs ranging from painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, printmaking, metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM, photography, graphic and interactive design, fibers and material studies to architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture, horticulture, art history, art education and art therapy, facilities management, city and regional planning and community development.

Tyler’s fall 2021 MFA Thesis Exhibition participants include:

October 20–23

October 27–30

November 3–6

November 10–13

November 17–20

December 1–4

December 8–11

December 15–18

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White background with text on the left, "Tyler Art & Architecture MFA Thesis Shows, Temple University"; a photo on the right of a sculpture of two figures in casual clothing and wrestling masks, drinking coffee together at a diner table.
Tyler School of Art & Architecture at Temple University’s MFA Thesis Shows are on view October 20, 2021- December 18, 2021. Artwork by Brian McNamara, “The Diner” 2021. Ceramic, wood, paint, and prints. Courtesy Tyler School of Art & Architecture.