Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Artists unite from greater Los Angeles areas

The Greater Los Angeles Master of Fine Arts exhibition has returned to the School of Art galleries at Long Beach State for a 14th time with “Open Relationships,” a theme dedicated to fostering collaboration between artists.

GLAMFA will run from Jan. 22 to Jan. 30 with participating MFA student artists from nine schools, including California State University Northridge, California Institute of the Arts and University of California Los Angeles.

This exhibit differs from its predecessors because it encourages communication between the MFA artists.  To accomplish this, GLAMFA opened a “Shared Resources Room,” which provides the artists with an on-site space in the Merlino Gallery to read books and essays, watch videos, mingle and drink coffee.

William Camargo, a first year MFA student at Claremont Graduate University, was one of the 29 students participating in the show and said he enjoyed working with other artists throughout the creative process of the show.

“I really like the collaboration and kind of bouncing off each other’s ideas,” Camargo said. “This is the kind of stuff that I want to see more often.”

Camargo features two six-piece photography panels in the exhibition: ”Mexican, American Paisa Nation #1” and “Mexican, American Paisa Nation #2.” In these pieces, Camargo captures the essence of his parents, while also observing gender stereotypes and differences with his mother wearing several aprons and his father wearing multiple hats. Camargo said much of his work is inspired from his family’s immigration from Mexico and like his work displayed at GLAMFA, it often captures different aspects of identity, gentrification and immigration.

“[I] thought this would be a great way to connect with the community,” said Megan Koth, a first year MFA student at UC Santa Barbara who recently moved from California to Arizona. “The collaborative aspect of GLAMFA also promised a more rich connection than simply having my work traditionally juried in.”

During her process in creating art for the exhibition, Koth was inspired by fellow GLAMFA collaborator and CSUN MFA student, Michael Roman when creating her painting “Barbie Mask.” This self-portrait of Koth is another piece in a continuation of her “Mask” series where she depicts herself in a variety of face masks. Roman and Koth discussed their artworks and exchanged ideas during their collaboration, which provided some communication challenges for the two, but it did not come without some valuable lessons.

“I was inspired by my GLAMFA collaborator Michael Roman’s works to explore themes of self-transformation and transcendence in relation to the imagery I’ve been exploring,” Roman said. “It’s been great to be introduced to Michael and his work.”

The GLAMFA exhibition is free to the public and can be viewed Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from noon until 7 p.m. A panel discussion with MFA artists and LBSU curators will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit www.greaterlamfa.com.

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