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Experience art through the eyes of creators at MFA Open Studios

The CSULB Fine Arts Roundtable hosted the Fall 2023 Open Studios event on Sunday, Dec. 3 in hopes of raising awareness for the MFA program on campus and highlighting a variety of talented artists in different mediums.

Casey Rubenfeld
With her studio located in the Student Success Center room 075, MFA student Casey Rubenfeld showcased a variety of artwork, including drawings, printmaking, wood blocks and more during the “Open Studios” event. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

During the event, 20 artists welcomed the public into their personal studios on campus and showcased their favorite pieces. The event was completely free and open to the public. Many artists were present at the event and spent time interacting with each and every person walking into their studio.

Graduate student Lex Harvey first enrolled in the drawing and painting MFA in 2021 and she is grateful to have the opportunity to host in-person events such as the Open Studios to interact with other local artists.

Artist Lex Harvey
Through her work, MFA student Lex Harvey displays her need to reexamine herself constantly and never remain stagnant, in both life and art. Harvey opened her studio in Fine Arts 4 room 217 during the “Open Studios” event hosted by the CSULB Fine Arts Roundtable. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

“A huge part of art is communication and seeing how viewers interact with our work,” Harvey said.

For Harvey, the Open Studios event allowed her to communicate with fellow artists and art lovers, network and create a stronger community within the department, as well as on campus as a whole.

Harvey uses her art as a reflection of herself and her own emotional journey through life. Utilizing pops of bright colors, abstract shapes, broken glass and a variety of other assets, she aims to reflect the human experience through art.

“My art reflects how we express opposite emotions, like attraction versus repulsion,” she said. “The tension within ourselves. For me, I use art as a tangible way to constantly reexamine myself and express changes, inside and out.”

MFA graduate student Lex Harvey utilizes a variety of colors and textures to express the feeling of experiencing opposite emotions at once.
MFA graduate student Lex Harvey utilizes a variety of colors and textures to express the feeling of experiencing opposite emotions at once. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

Multiple different mediums were featured at the event, including artists with a focus in ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, animation and more. Many artists continued working on new works during the event, providing attendees with an inside look at how the pieces come together.

Along with the opportunity to engage with the community, MFA student Jose Miguel Loza said he enjoyed participating in the Open Studio event in order to help highlight the success of the program.

“It helps give a view into what institutions like this have and offers a nice preview of what it’s like in grad school,” Loza said.

“For myself, its an eye-opening experience seeing how accessible it is for people.”

For second-year MFA student Kayleigh Ziehler-Martin, community-based events are important to help make art more accessible in public spaces.

“I think it is so important for people to see that art can be accessible,” she said.

“You get to see all these different studios and all these different people working in all these different ways and in that way, that makes it really accessible.”

According to Ziehler-Martin, events help give a face to the art and artists at CSULB.

Kayleigh Ziehler-Martin
Although her master’s degree is in painting and drawing, artist Kayleigh Ziehler-Martin has found a passion for creating ceramic pieces through the MFA program. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

In her studio, Ziehler-Martin also asked attendees to collaborate and help her create a new piece. A large, blank sheet of paper was placed onto the floor of the studio and Ziehler-Martin encouraged visitors to walk all over the piece and leave footprints.

Ziehler-Martin was not the only artist promoting more interactive art. Artist Shannon Freshwater allowed visitors to touch and compress her piece entitled “Vital Vittles Emergency Provisions,” which consisted of cans sculpted from foam.

MFA graduate student Naria Kitahara provided another interactive experience, allowing attendees to touch and manipulate all of her different sculptures. Attendees seemed receptive to these interactive pieces. Many of them knelt on the floor to pet a sculpture entitled “Luis” made from pennies and zip ties.

Artists featured at the Open Studios provided great insight into the MFA program and the talent at CSULB. From prompting in-depth social commentary through art, to breaking boundaries within fine arts with physically interactive art, MFA graduate students created a memorable night for attendees.

The CSULB Fine Arts Roundtable hosts the Open Studios event once each semester. For more information about the MFA program or the Open Studios in spring, visit the CSULB School of Art graduate page on Instagram.

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