Final MFA exhibits shown at the Grunwald
By Sanya Ali
On Wednesday, the Grunwald Gallery of Art opened up their final display of MFA thesis exhibits across genres, including works from printmaking, ceramics and textiles, among others.
Tai Rogers, a graduate student working for his MFA in ceramics, displayed a group of sculptural pieces made of materials such as wood, steel and artificial lighting. Topography, maps and cartography were the focus of inspiration.
“My objects become abstracted because of the removal of specifics like names and numbers,” Rogers said. “They become these aesthetic objects that are just about the lines and the spaces that they create.”
The show, titled “Fabricated Landscapes,” includes large-scale pieces inspired by actual locations on maps, but are given a whimsical makeover.
“I’m creating these spaces that are fantastical and imaginary,” Rogers said. “In a sense, they’re creating their own worlds.”
The pieces, Rogers said, follow a similar trajectory he established throughout his time as an artist at IU.
“I’ve been investigating ideas related to identity and navigation all through the avenue of understanding our place in the world and such,” Rogers said.
“It’s not particularly new, there are new elements to them; there are new kinds of techniques that I’ve explored.”
Rogers said the inciting event for this inspirational path came during his time in the Peace Corps after undergraduate school.
Stationed on a coffee farm in Jamaica, Rogers was not in the United States during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
“My whole sense of the world was shifted, so I started really searching for understanding my place,” Rogers said. “I started with the local, really understanding where I was living, which wasn’t on a map.”
After that, Rogers said he moved on to investigating other locations in the quest to combat the sense of dislocation he felt being so far away during such a major cultural shift.
From Mosul, Iraq, to Washington, Rogers said, all land looks the same when you strip away the objects on top. Through his work, he has been able to become more at peace with where he has been and the universality of a place.
“The land becomes this sense of, it blends everything together, people become one, in a way,” Rogers said. “For me, it allows me to explore, look at places where I want to go or where I’ve been.”