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FRESH EYES AT HELEN DAY: MFA STUDENTS SHINE

Nicholas Mancini, Holly to Hemlock Lily, 2016, monotype, paper, pastel, charcoal on canvas, 62" x 75"


by Marta Pauer-Tursi

The fourth biennial exhibition at Helen Day Art Center features the works of five MFA degree students from the Northeast. This year, more than 150 applicants’ works were considered for this juried exhibition. Four of the artists are women working in various mediums including painting, photography and sculpture. Two are from the Middle East, and the three Americans are from the West Coast, the South and New England. The majority of them are keenly aware of the political and social environment of their young adulthood, and their work reflects a unique perspective and statement on the implications of public policy and politics on the flow of human life.

Arghavan Khosravi, a native of Tehran, Iran, explores aspects of identity and political experience in a series of works on paper. Among the works on exhibition are four meticulously adorned wooden boxes that each encase an authentic Iranian passport intricately elaborated with imagery reminiscent of Persian miniatures. Upon closer look, a viewer- constructed narrative emerges from the juxtapositions of disparate traditional and contemporary figures and objects — for example, a group of veiled women, a gun, a soldier’s camouflaged legs, a peering eye from an opening in a mihrab. Four large paintings continue the passport theme, inviting the viewer to reflect on the president’s Muslim travel ban. The artist is a second-year student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

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