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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


MFA Students Show Off Their Work


Art has always been important. From the beginning, humans were painting pictures on cave walls and finding different ways to express themselves. Today, that story is no different. Artists are constantly looking for new ways to express themselves through their art and translate those ideas to others.

The Staller Center Art Gallery featured the work of five Master of Fine Arts [MFA] students in an exhibit titled “MFA Thesis Exhibition 2011.” The exhibition included drawings, prints, photographs, performance art, mixed media and electronic media. The artists were honored at a reception on Saturday, Feb. 12.

One of the featured artists was Moira Williams, a performance artist who will be receiving her degree in the spring. Williams performed a piece at the reception, titled “Tribhargi.”

“It is unusual for me to do my performance work in the setting of the gallery; typically I do work outside the gallery and on the streets … The limitations of the gallery were challenging and caused me to broaden my way of doing,” said Williams in an e-mail, whose performance involved using a live feed set up to a web camera, which projected the live image onto a wall along with a series of delayed images previously captured by the camera.

Williams’ performance involved draping herself in tied together bleached newspaper rolls drenched in animal fat and covered charcoal. She then stood in front of the wall the camera was projecting the live image on and proceeded to stand in a series of poses.

“The performance itself is based in full body and hand gestures that relate to various religious gestures in combination with popular dance movements. Each gesture is held for three and a half minutes or more,” said Williams of her performance, which “is seeped in irony and holds a form of humor that may or may not connect to some.”

Kathryn Cellerini, another MFA student at Stony Brook who was not featured in the exhibition, focuses more on craftsmanship than performance. “I would like to see my artworks as capable of facilitating an experience for the viewer,” Cellerini said when people see her work, “The experience would be unique to each individual. I don’t want to prescribe anything, not at this point.  I want my art to be of interest to people, to engage them, and perhaps encourage them to think a little differently.”

According to Williams, her art is a “contact, communication, a form of exchange between [herself], the materials and the viewer.” She sees it as “something akin to a drum circle where something begins and passes onto each member, yet the circle is not closed because the action travels beyond the circle. It extends itself outside.” It is this connection that is important to Williams, nad this conection in the goal of her performances. “Whether the action arrives clearly or not to the participants or viewers is unimportant to me.  It is only important that a connection is made on some level, the individual creates another concept, or a challenge to one’s way of thinking,” Williams said.

Cellerini first became interested in art during her freshman year at Oregon State University. Her roommate was a graphic design major and let Cellerini play around with her art materials one night. “I was hooked,” Cellerini said, “I bought sketchbooks and drew and painted in my spare time while I pursued my clinical psych and bio-psych studies … I finished both degrees, and the experiences I gained in the research lab and working in mental health are invaluable because they continue to influence the artwork.”

For Williams, her interest in art began at a very young age. “My mother took me to the Cleveland Museum in Ohio when I was four or so. When there, I sat, circled and then just stood in awe before Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram 1955-1959, and I knew then that I was an artist,” she said. Williams was so taken by the work that she did not want to leave it, so the museum guard let her eat her lunch in front of them. It was from this museum visit that her interest developed.

“I am interested in contemporary art making, ritual and technology, and I am committed to a flexible and trans-disciplinary practice that allows for and encourages holistic exchanges and collaborations that extend myself and the people that I work with,” Williams said.

Cellerini has a more educational relationship with her artwork, seeing it as a chance for her to learn about herself. “One project feeds into another, and it is really exciting to look at images from a few years ago and compare them to current projects, because I have learned so much not only about art, but about myself and how I encounter and respond to the world. Then it becomes a matter of how I want to describe those encounters visually,” she said.

After receiving her degree in the spring, Williams plans on working on a traveling show while creating a “trans-disciplinary residency program,” which will be non-profit and international. Cellerini plans on continuing “a personally challenging, satisfying studio practice” while teaching.

For both artists, continuing to learn is important. According to Cellerini, “there is so much to learn, and knowledge feeds the work.”


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