Evan Burgess (A ‘15)
Every year, the Menschel Fellowship offers funding to third and fourth year students in order to allow them to pursue creative and personal projects over the summer that would not otherwise be possible. Many students use the money to travel, and often the experience from these trips ties into the larger art, architecture, or engineering practice of those students.
After the trip itself, participants are asked to produce a series of artifacts, images, videos, or other pieces of work that will go on display in an exhibition in the beginning of the spring semester. The 2014-2015 Menschel Exhibition has come to a close on Feb. 14th, representing the end of nearly a full year of work for the participants.
Maja Hjertén-Knutson (A ’15), who went to Morocco with Kiwi Nguyen (A ’15) to study the tile patterns used in architecture, reminds me that the project ends up being much larger than just the time spent away from home. From the application process to the exhibition, I have been watching classmates follow through a major project from the planning/pitching phase through the execution, and on to the documentation and presentation.
While these projects often have a strong connection to the studio work of the participants, Maja points out that this is an opportunity to work within the framework of the school, but outside of the walls of the school. Often, the work that they are producing for the exhibition resembles their studio work, but it gains a certain freedom by being completely independent and outside of the view of studio professors.
The exhibition itself, organized between all of the groups of participating students, is one of the largest collaborative exhibitions that take place at Cooper. Here, the sheer variety of work comes to light, with photographs and models from the Mississippi River, to videos documenting various figures in Ghana, to sections of the fence around Guantanamo making an appearance in the school. As always, the show this year was well advertised and well attended.