Paper House, on view at the UCF Art Gallery beginning February 17, explores the unique backgrounds and perspectives of Studio Art & Design MFA program candidates. As part of their thesis work, Gabe Cortese, Danielle Culibao Powell, Tim Reid and Annette Tojar invite audiences to explore fragility, transparency and validation of intimate relationships and experiences through a variety of mediums and processes. The thought-provoking and deeply personal work will be on view in the gallery and virtually through March 3.
Meet the artists of Paper House:
Gabe Cortese creates oil paintings and charcoal drawings depicting codification of queerness through figuration and symbolism. As a queer artist, Cortese uses his work to make sense of his experiences. His animated objects and flamboyant bodies form queer narratives that portray themes of tenderness, longing and desire in comical and dramatic ways.
Borrowing from the weight of religious paintings, Cortese subverts religious motifs to create discord between spirituality and sexuality. His thesis work is particularly personal to him; the figures in his work reflect aspects of his partner, using his image as a lens to narrate Cortese’s own experiences.
Danielle Culibao Powell
Danielle Culibao Powell creates paintings and collages expanding upon personal experiences of falling into, or between, multiple cultures at once. With a strong interest in the complexities that emerge from the collision of cultural history, contemporary identity and the process of merging one’s life with another, she explores cultural plurality and transcultural experiences within the home. Reflecting on her experience of being the first member of her family to be born outside of the Philippines and in an intercultural marriage, Culibao Powell became fascinated by how individual histories become a shared history within the context of a family. Using Filipino patterns, Western symbolism and personal iconography, she builds imagery that expresses her construction of a new life and new identity. Although her work is autobiographical in nature, she hopes audiences can relate to the universal struggle for intimacy.
“I have had the privilege to work with the most amazing faculty and artists at this school,” says Culibao Powell. “Both formally and conceptually, my work has evolved and it has been refined because of the generous insight of the professors I have worked with and the peers I have worked alongside.” After graduation, she plans to continue painting, competing and exhibiting and hopes to teach at the university level again one day.
Experimental filmmaker and installation artist Tim Reid provokes viewers with his own experiences with insecurities, contradictions and hypocrisy. Although his background is in film and video production, he has since shifted his focus during his time in the MFA program to creating installations and tangible objects. He is particularly interested in learning unfamiliar materials while using them and understanding how the process of learning is more important than the results. Given his proclivity for trying new materials, it is no surprise that his advice for budding artists is to try new things.
Reid’s thesis work for Paper House is built around his fascination with how people react to new and contradictory perspectives. After learning about cognitive dissonance, which is the state of psychological discomfort when a person is confronted with information that goes against previously held beliefs, Reid immediately recognized the significance of this concept in his own life. Taking the opportunity to create work that was meaningful to himself and a broad audience, he created his thesis work, which he hopes audiences can use to relate to his personal struggles.
Reid credits his time in the MFA program for the strong relationships he has formed with colleagues and faculty. After graduation, he hopes to obtain warehouse or commercial space to set up collaborative artist studios.
Tojar embraces her passion as a former professional pastry chef to create paintings of food to explore her cultural identity and personal histories. Her understanding of the physicality of food informs how it is portrayed on a two-dimensional surface with paint for visual indulgence. She is particularly interested in discovering metaphorical connections between food and other objects.
Through her experience in the MFA program, Tojar’s best advice for incoming students is to be open to other possibilities and accept that failure is part of the learning process. “Everything you do will influence future work, including the “failed” attempts,” she says. Tojar hopes to employ what she has learned during her time at UCF to continue being an effective artist.
For more information about Paper House, on exhibition online and at the UCF Art Gallery now through March 3, click here.
For more information about the Emerging Media, Studio Art & Design MFA program offered through the School of Visual Arts and Design, click here.