GV students featured at MEGA art exhibit


Mary Racette, Arts Editor

Grand Valley State University graduate students are featured in the 2019 Michigan Emerging Graduate Artists (MEGA) exhibit at the Urban Contemporary Institute of Art (UICA).  

The Masters Student Collective (MSC) of the Kendall College of Art and Design’s ninth annual MEGA exhibit features graduates and undergraduates who earned their degree this year from a Michigan academic institution. The exhibit opened its doors to the public Friday, July 12 and will remain open until Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

Working alongside the team from the MSC, MEGA 2019 will be Kathryn Cardenas’ first year volunteering as the exhibit’s communication director and project manager.  

Cardenas said the primary goal of the exhibit is to feature students in a “formal, external venue.” 

“(MEGA) provides a platform for (students) to exhibit their works that could potentially catapult their artistic careers or serve as a springboard to other opportunities,” Cardenas said.

MEGA gives students the freedom to create their art, only setting guidelines regarding size and installation. Cardenas said the exhibit showcases a range of artforms including sculptures, drawings, paintings, printmaking, installation and time-based art.  

This year’s jurors include Juana Williams and Christine Walters. Both jurors have an extensive background of art education and experiences which they brought to the judging panel. 

Students from across the state apply to be selected into the exhibition by the jury. Cardenas said there are many talented artists who compete to be featured each year, and this year only twenty artists were selected. 

“MEGA highlights the most accomplished Michigan Graduate students and graduating undergraduate students as they begin their professional careers in the art field,” Cardenas said. “Members of the community and universities come to see the exhibit because of the promising talent.” 

Caitlyn Brandt is a recent GVSU graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. Her piece “Untitled (Glen)” is one of the GVSU student pieces included in MEGA. 

Her work is a large oil painting which depicts an abstracted landscape. Through her use of colors and patterns, she illustrates themes of reality and the invented.  

The Visual and Media Arts Department at GVSU supported Brandt’s growth as an artist. In addition to MEGA, Brandt said GVSU opened the door for her to experience “life changing” opportunities, including a scholarship to the Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist’s Residency and a study abroad experience completing a summer course in London.  

Brandt said it was rewarding for her and her work to be displayed at MEGA.

“It’s invigorating to show alongside other talented artists,” Brandt said. 

Brandt, among the other GVSU graduate students featured in the statewide MEGA exhibition, are showcasing the skills and education they developed during their time at GVSU.  

UICA members were invited on Thursday, July 11 to follow along on William’s behind-the-scenes tour of the galleries. On opening night, artists, jurors and the student collective were available to discuss their work with the public.