McEachern Art Center Features Recent MFA Graduates Whose Thesis Work was Stymied by COVID-19

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MACON – Mercer University will showcase recently-graduated Master of Fine Arts recipients from across the Southeast in a new gallery exhibition at McEachern Art Center (MAC) titled TAUT: Recent MFAs Revisited opening this Friday, Oct. 30, through Feb. 13.

The upcoming show was curated by Ben Dunn, director of McEachern Art Center. TAUT features artists from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama in an attempt for the MAC to fill in the gaps caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns of universities throughout the nation last spring.

The show’s title is inspired by tautology: “Rhetorically, tautology is the restating of a thesis for emphasis. Phonetically, ‘TAUT’ is the past tense of teaching,” notes Dunn on the inspiration.

The MFA is a terminal degree in fine art. The culmination of this educational trajectory is the thesis and the exhibition of this work. These showcases act as an introduction for artists to the professional field, often attended by friends, family, media, curators, and potential collectors. The COVID-19 shutdowns paused years of work, with Dunn pointing out, “It is a significant blow to miss this crescendo. The projects on view here are independent statements from careers on the cusp.”

The work on view in TAUT ranges in media including sculpture, drawing, video, painting and functional ceramics. The messages embedded in each oeuvre are explained throughout the gallery. Though this show contains a mix of multiple artists, there is a common thread. “All of the participating artists are individually deserving of attention, yet the dialog on display here is greater than the sum of its parts somehow; a poem between the pieces,” the exhibition statement proclaims.

Many of the pieces, due to the size and scale of the work, have not had a satisfactory virtual presence since the pandemic began. The MAC aspires to serve emerging artists and source exhilarating works to showcase in Macon as part of its mission, so this show fits well. As Dunn notes: “We hope to provide some momentum to this deserving cadre by bringing accomplishments from their recent pasts to give our guests a glimpse at the near future of the field.”

The MAC is open to the public from Thursday-Saturday from 4-8 p.m., with COVID-19 safety measures in place including requiring face masks and limited capacity. For more, visit macmacon.com. Classes and educational groups are encouraged to contact Ben Dunn at dunn_bwr@mercer.edu to organize visits to the gallery outside of this time.

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Julia Rubens