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I Keep the Ladders Clean:
2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition

March 29 - May 4, 2024
USF Contemporary Art Museum

Ainaz Alipour, Peel Off, 2022

Ainaz Alipour, Peel Off, 2022

This eagerly anticipated annual exhibition features Master's Thesis work by the 3rd year Master of Fine Arts candidates in the USF School of Art and Art History. The 2024 exhibition, titled I Keep the Ladders Clean, features artists Ainaz Alipour, Tisha Benson, Caroline Colby, Mason Dowling, Andrew King, Manantial, Harsh K Sharma, Tanner Simon, and Amber Toplisek. 

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-8pm, Sat 1-4pm, Closed Sunday and USF Holidays.
Special Hours: March 29 7-9pm
Exhibition and events are free and open to all.

 

RELATED EVENTS

4/18/24
ART Thursday: What We Keep, A Reading of Original Poetry

4/25/24
ART Thursday: I Keep the Ladders Clean MFA Panel Discussion

 

EXHIBITION WORKBOOK
workbook sample pages

View and download a pdf of the I Keep the Ladders Clean: 2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition catalogue. The 62-page full color publication is available to students and museum visitors without cost, and includes an essay and MFA artist profiles by Colin Edgington, and texts by USFCAM Director Margaret Miller, and USF School of Art & Art History Interim Director Sarah Howard. (13MB)

 

VIRTUAL TOUR

Explore this virtual 360 degree interactive walkthrough of I Keep the Ladders Clean, the 2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition. For the best experience click the View Fullscreen icon in the lower right of the window. Virtual tour Courtesy of USF Access 3D Lab, Dr. Laura Harrison.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Ainaz Alipour

Mashhad, Iran
MA in Animation and Film, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran, 2017
BFA in Printmaking, Tehran University of Art, Tehran, Iran, 2013
Artist's Website, Instagram, Facebook

I am an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker driven by a deep sense of social consciousness. As a creator and storyteller my work traverses diverse mediums and disciplines. Having lived both in Iran and the United States, I have discovered a unique in-between state of existence—a constant interplay between two worlds, never fully arriving or entirely leaving either.

Ainaz Alipour, /mo~ASerat/, 2024

Ainaz Alipour, /mo~ASerat/, 2024

 

Tisha Benson

Tacoma, Washington
BFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco CA, 2015
Artist's Website, Instagram

Using reclaimed mass-produced materials, my work explores the power of objects to decenter the human. My practice engages a process of decontextualization and compounded material experimentation to develop objects that are both unidentifiable and yet logical; familiar and foreign. I experiment with multiples, scale, and the proximity of objects to one another in order to investigate the ways that three dimensional forms imply their counterparts and designate one another as cohabitants in a shared system. Relationships between these forms refer to ideas of energy exchange and movement, as well as structural explorations of precarity, integration and the development of contingencies in the work.

Tisha Benson, from all the tensile units, 2023

Tisha Benson, from all the tensile units, 2023

 

Caroline Colby

Miami, Florida
BFA in Studio Art, Florida International University, Miami, FL 2014
BA in Art History, Florida International University, Miami, FL, 2014
Artist's Instagram

I am an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on creating atmospheric, parallel worlds through the eyes, ears, and bodies of the characters that reside within them. I entered the graduate program as a figurative painter but ended up delving into performance, sculpture, costume-making, video, sound design and animation. Drawing serves as the bedrock of my practice. I reference audio and visual cues found in media such as 80s-00s video games, anime, manga and Super Sentai. I hope you will enjoy the experience of these worlds, both as tiny vignettes and as a whole.

Caroline Colby, a_stair_case, 2024

Caroline Colby, a_stair_case, 2024

 

Mason Dowling

Santa Fe, NM
BFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco CA, 2015
Artist's Website, Instagram

My paintings are tools for looking. They concentrate time, attention, and specificity into a potent index of something complex within ourselves that we don’t have words for. The paintings are open systems of meaning through which personal, historical, and contemporary events can be explored.

Mason Dowling, Untitled, 2023

Mason Dowling, Untitled, 2023

 

Andrew King

Biloxi, MS
BA in Studio Art, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, 2015
Artist's Website, Instagram

I make paintings and sculptures that explore themes of spirituality and domesticity. My studio practice has largely focused in ceramics while at USF, but it also includes collage, acrylic painting, and various processes involving found materials. My work is childishly aggressive and humorous. When creating sculptures, I concentrate on the intersections between form, function, and fantasy. My work invites viewers to take a playfully critical role and explore their interaction with the unknown.

Andrew King, Holy Pot, 2023

Andrew King, Holy Pot, 2023

 

Manatial

Sarasota, FL
BA in Studio Art, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, 1996

I use symbolism in my portraits of family and friends to explore ideas about identity, queerness, and belonging. I am a racially and ethnically mixed queer woman with an interracial family. I believe artists have an obligation to themself and to the global community to be visible, record and share images of experiences as marginalized and oppressed people complete with contradictions and conflicts, and share these images to ignite challenging conversations, healing, hope, and growth.

Manantial, Tradition of Our Family Hanging in Ur Tradition of Whiteness, 2022

Manantial, Tradition of Our Family Hanging in Ur Tradition of Whiteness, 2022

 

Harsh K Sharma

Surat, Gujarat, India
BFA in Sculpture, Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat, India, 2017
Artist's Instagram

My practice is based on exploration of different mediums. I actively seek to push the boundaries of traditional artistic practices, constantly experimenting to find new and innovative ways of expression. By intertwining abstract ideas with anatomical forms, I aim to evoke a deeper emotional response from the audience, inviting them to contemplate the intersection of culture, society, and individual identity within my work. Through this process, I strive to create a dialogue that transcends linguistic barriers and resonates with viewers on a profound level.

Harsh K Sharma, Untitled, 2022

Harsh K Sharma, Untitled, 2022

 

Tanner Simon

Honesdale, PA
BA in US History and Studio Art, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA, 2020
Artist's Website, Instagram, Facebook

My paintings explore familiar visual tropes through the use of heroic scale and parodies of power. While not overtly political, my work seeks to re-contextualize cultural truisms and common knowledge into icons of significance. Inspired by imagery created using digital paint and 3-D modeling software, my work often utilizes intensely flat fields of color and smooth renderings that evoke early internet meme culture. My use of strategic formal decisions and playfully vibrant colors fixes otherwise mutable subjects and imbues them with a bombastic presence. My paintings assert their physicality through their scale and placement within space, forging a dynamic relationship with the viewer and questioning preconceived notions of their relationship with issues of representation, power, and meaning.

Tanner Simon, Croissant Moon, 2022

Tanner Simon, Croissant Moon, 2022

 

Amber Toplisek

Atlanta, Georgia
BFA, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 2018
Artist's Website, Instagram, Facebook

I think about the network of images that exists within me, acting as an imperceptible alchemy that bonds and bends me toward its will. By embedding once-immaterial images within tangible structures, my intention is to amplify their potential to coalesce into the viewer’s physical body. This phenomenological experience is further explored by various tactics of obfuscation between the viewer and the image. My work plays with different transparencies: kinetic and still, in order to prolong a seemingly banal experience with an image to create a lasting, more complex experience.

Amber Toplisek, Decoherence, 2023

Amber Toplisek, Decoherence, 2023

 

I Keep the Ladders Clean is supported in part by the Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts Foundation, the USF School of Art & Art History, the Florida Department of State, Florida Arts & Culture, and The Dr. Allen W. and Janet G. Root CAM Endowment.