Mason Gross welcomes returning students with annual showcase
All were welcome to the "Welcome Back" show that Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts kicked off the new semester with.
The BACKWASH, an annual show from the Visual Arts Department that closed yesterday, showcased artwork from faculty, staff and returning Master of Fine Arts students.
The school invited individuals from all ends of the rolodex within the Rutgers and New Brunswick community to the show that was located at the Mason Gross Galleries at Civic Square.
“We are trying to attract literally everybody,” said Daonne Huff, Mason Gross’ graduate program administrative assistant and gallery coordinator.
The exhibit displayed the works of not only MFA students, but contributions by technical and administrative staff at Mason Gross, Huff said. The show emphasized the potential of creative practice from the entire Visual Arts Department.
The show displayed different works of visual art including responses to the Orlando shootings and Black Lives Matter movement, recordings of live performances, sculptures made from steel and a functional kayak.
“It’s an introduction to the work that’s here — of the energy, spirit, creativity and the full spectrum of art-making that’s happening at Mason Gross,” Huff said.
Mason Gross represents a vital component at the heart of Rutgers academia, Huff said. Rutgers is known for its science and business programs, as well as for its football team, she said, but Mason Gross students and alumni have also distinguished themselves in visual and performing arts.
Recently, Mason Gross alumn Meagan Woods, co-founder of "Your Move: New Jersey’s Modern Dance Festival," was unanimously nominated and selected for Dance New Jersey’s 2016 Jete Award, an honor given in recognition of the strong impact on the state’s dance community.
“The arts play an important role in really documenting and capturing the energy of our school,” Huff said.
Year after year, the annual BACKWASH exhibit does just that. It is one of Mason Gross’ longest-running shows.
Serving as a staple engrained in the foundation of Mason Gross, Huff said the exhibit also supports their student community with vital funding for student programming through auctions.
On opening nights of shows, work produced through the art community supports the same body for future leaders of their presentations through the auction of student work, Huff said.
Therefore, students contributing time and energy into the exhibit are given an opportunity to express their artistic side while allowing the Mason Gross community to have the financial resources for impending student programming.
“I’m always amazed by the different kinds of people that come visit the gallery,” said Shannon Dzuban, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Dzuban said the attendance from the student body and surrounding community thus far was "great."
This year’s Welcome Back show marks two years since Dzuban has worked at the Mason Gross Gallery.
Every year the entire experience is different, Dzuban said.
Each showcase has a different theme, with the BACKWASH exhibit displaying 48 different features, all curated by second-year MFA students, Joshua Araujo, David Torres, Bryan Volta, Ben Weathers and Jamie Williams.
Submissions were not limited to specific works of art, as submitted artwork was openly accepted and arranged to fit the aesthetic of the exhibit curated by Huff and the five second-year MFA students.
“You see all the artwork now and you come back later and it’s still the same gallery, but it has a completely different feel,” she said, “Mostly because of all the different art that’s in the room.”
Abner Bonilla is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.