Searching for meaning: thesis exhibitions open at UM

By Missoula Current

Master of Fine Arts graduate students Evan Hauser, Sarah Justice and Amy Petit will open their thesis exhibitions on March 30 in the University of Montana’s Gallery of Visual Arts.

An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. The event is free and open to the public and includes refreshments.

Hauser’s exhibition, “The Prescribed West,” explores how landscape impacts the human experience beyond aesthetic beauty. Moving from Indiana to Montana, he witnessed a cultural shift in perspective of land, specifically the wilderness. His ceramic and video works in the exhibition address issues of human control over the supposed wilderness, creating a prescribed experience.

“When looking at a national park such as Yellowstone, we are confronted by land that is supposedly wild and natural,” Hauser said. “In reality, the lands within the park are somewhat of a construct that is managed.”

Justice’s exhibition, “Selene,” uses life-size ceramic figurative sculptures to depict an autobiographical journey of control, power and healing. The work employs mythology and symbolism to challenge the viewer’s perception of seductive and destructive human behaviors.

Through the analogy of “the moth to the flame,” Justice encourages viewers to contemplate how one uses their own power of attraction and repulsion within relationships and within oneself.

The sculptural works in Petit’s exhibition, “Median,” are an exploration of memory, loss and transition. Based on her observation of changing forms of communication in the digital age, she examines how personal interaction, expression and the value we assign to objects are affected.

By using a combination of materials such as metal, glass and thread, as well as digital media, she seeks to emphasize the permanent and impermanent nature of familiar objects or actions.

The Gallery of Visual Arts is located on the first floor of the Social Science Building and is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, and Monday hours are available by appointment.

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