Open space of inspiration

The CFA hosts Open CFA for graduate students to display their work


While some people use the Xbox Kinect motion sensor to play their favorite video games, Nima Vakili uses it to create 3D conceptual art.

The first-year media study Master of Fine Arts graduate student put together a film of people using the motion sensor to digitally paint shapes. These shapes ended looked like the geometric skeletons one might see in the making of an animated film.

Vakili likes to incorporate technology and viewership interactions in his artwork.

“I love architecture and dealing with public spaces,” Vakili said. “My research is about integrating media into a public space and getting people to interact.”

Students were able to view his film and other projects at the Center for the Arts Open CFA event Thursday night. Masters candidates in the Department of Art, Media Study and Theater and Dance had the opportunity to display their work to an audience of students, professors and community members.

Pieces ranged from photographs and paintings to dance performances and film screenings.

Spectators were able to strike a conversation with the many artists in attendance, who seemed open to discussing their pieces, their creation process and what mediums they worked with.

Shane Farrell, a first-year Master of Fine Arts graduate student, is inspired by small drawings and the history of painting. His art was on display at Open CFA. He told onlookers his work uses Photoshop to mimic the feeling of real paint while creating three-dimensional effects with technology.

“I like to make things that exist halfway between the real and digital world, the awkward in between,” Farrell said.

Tommy Nguyen, a second-year MFA graduate student, creates a myriad of plush objects that are morbid in shape but can be worn as a costume.

“My ideas come from anywhere, anime, comic books and superheroes,” Nguyen said.

Many of Nguyen’s creations are colorful and whimsical with clear inspiration from animation and culture.

“I try to integrate many races, cultures, body types and sizes into [my work],” Nguyen said. “I try to exploit what’s [different] about pop and hip-hop culture, reclaim those things and try to turn it into something that bring people together.”

People in attendance ranged from students interested in seeing what their teachers do creatively to those who were looking for a sense of understanding and creativity in the art world.

Jordan Maxfield, a senior film studies major who creates short films and documentaries, came up with ideas of how to present his own art and about ways to confront the artistic process head-on as he walked through the CFA on Thursday.

“This event seemed like an [interesting] way to confront the artist, but also their art,” Maxfield said. “It got me thinking about how you can present work. There should be an honesty and self-awareness as an artist.”

Cody Schriever, a sophomore psychology major, was surprised at the variations of art that were being presented.

“It’s interesting to see the different forms art takes,” Schriever said. “It’s also interesting to see performance art. It’s become more prominent than it used to be.”

After the event, the painter maintains his plans to make a collection of his own work someday. The event inspired Schriver to have a creative voice of his own. He acknowledges the challenges of breaking into the art world, but attending the event and seeing the diversity of art gives him some reassurance.

“Sometimes to get to a shout you have to start as whisper. Take a deep breath,” Schriever said.