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Corcoran emphasizes student collaboration in new spring shows and exhibitions

Allison Robbert | Staff Photographer
The Corcoran Scholars opened their annual exhibit Friday in the Smith Hall of Art, which showcases their ongoing work.

The Corcoran School of The Arts and Design is creatively redefining the formats and presentation style of programs as artists showcase their work through exhibitions, performances and colloquium this spring.

Babette Pendleton, Corcoran’s Exhibition and Programming associate, said she is running longer shows and adding new spaces for students to showcase their work around campus to attract more students outside of Corcoran this year as part of an ongoing effort to establish the prominence of the school as a broader part of the GW community. Pendleton said while students often traditionally work on their shows on their own, they’re increasingly collaborating with fellow students to produce and promote exhibitions as a whole this year.

Corcoran Scholars: “ON THE HORIZON”
A select group of Corcoran students who receive scholarships based on their work, known as the Corcoran Scholars, opened their annual exhibit Friday in the Smith Hall of Art, which showcases their ongoing work as they have progressed through the Corcoran School. The exhibition centers around a central idea – “ON THE HORIZON,” and Pendleton said students’ work reflects the theme, exploring what the future could hold as up-and-coming artists.

“It’s all student-led, which I think is really exciting,” Pendleton said. “It also comes at a really important time in their trajectory as a student to learn how to produce their own work and to work as a group and learn how to collaborate.”

Jenna Banks, a senior Corcoran Scholar and photojournalism major, is presenting her piece “Room to Breathe” at the exhibit this year alongside nine other scholars. Doubling as Banks’ senior thesis, the piece is a print of the upturned roots of a fallen tree, symbolizing her therapeutic relationship with Rock Creek Park here in D.C. She said the park served as a safe haven when she dealt with anxiety last year, and she still finds herself going there anytime she feels overwhelmed with her everyday life.

“Nature is so essential to, I think, so many of my closest relationships, that it has kind of ingrained itself into who I am,” Banks said.

As a senior in the photojournalism program, Amada McHardy presented a series of photographs that draws on inspiration from her relationship with her grandfather, including photos she’s taken of him and shots around his house, in addition to other pictures that remind her of their relationship. She said some of the photos she selected for this project have taken on new meaning after the recent passing of her grandfather over the summer.

The exhibit will remain in Gallery 102 of the Smith Hall of Art, Monday to Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. through Feb. 15.

MFA: Solo Series
Six students pursuing Master of Fine Arts degree will showcase their work in a series of individual exhibitions and shows this spring in the Smith Hall of Art. Pendleton, the Exhibition and Programing associate for Corcoran, said students worked collaboratively to craft a central design and poster for the exhibition entitled “Regression” while developing each of their distinct shows.

Dajana Peric, a second-year graduate student studying fine arts, incorporates movement and performance into her show “9 Stitches” – a collection of nine performances across nine days, split into three different “cycles” that describe her relationship with culture, family and trauma. The first cycle highlights her birth in Serbia and childhood in Bosnia, the second explores hardship she experienced as a child without a father figure and the final cycle examines a process of spiritual cleaning that leads to acceptance and embracement.

“Every performance is dealing with complex emotions,” Peric said. “The most important words in my vocabulary recently became vulnerability and resilience.”

After every one of her shows, the performance remnants, including costumes and props Peric has created will remain in the gallery until the next performance – a process of charging these remnants with her emotion through performance then laying them to rest.

“What I love about what I do is that through performance, there is an actual object which basically has a life on its own,” Peric said.

MFA: Solo Series will run March 6 to May 21, Gallery Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Peric’s show will run March 6 to 16 at 6 p.m. in Smith Hall of Art, Gallery 102, with the tenth day serving as a conversation with the artist.

Corcoran will take their annual “NEXT” show outside of the Flagg Building and pilot the event in festival format to highlight Corcoran programs outside traditional gallery exhibitions. Over the course of a month, students will showcase their work across campus including the University Student Center, Lisner Auditorium and Kogan Plaza in the form of exhibits, performance and symposia.

In her fifth year as a fine arts student, Soffia Obando Carcamo said her love of sculpture comes from the process of sculpting and her relationship to the materials she uses, which range from cardboard to garden hoses.

For “NEXT,” she will showcase an exploration into biomaterials, experimenting with the live organisms that form kombucha and how this bacteria will interact with balloon-like vessels, no larger than a football, which she will sculpt from sugar. After placing the culture of bacteria at the top of the sculpted sugar balloons, her goal is for the culture of bacteria to travel through a series of vessels as the bacteria consumes them and grows in size, effectively creating a work of art that is living and changing as it’s viewed.

“I learn about the material, but I learn a lot about myself as well and the process because sometimes, as humans we’re demanding,” Obando Carcamo said. “It’s like you do whatever I tell you to, and sometimes the materials don’t want to do that. I feel like I’ve learned to compromise in a healthy way with my materials because we’re working together.”

NEXT Festival Extravaganza will take place May 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibition will be opened in the Flagg Building May 1 to 19, with all other performances and symposia taking place at locations and times to be announced.

Civic Engagement within Artistic Practice
The NEXT Festival will also include a panel discussion titled “Civic Engagement within Artistic Practice” featuring three Corcoran faculty, who will talk about how they use their arts forms to influence social change, said Wendy Wagner, the director of Community Engaged Scholarship with the Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

Sid Williams, an assistant professor in the Corcoran Theater and Dance program, will be one of the faculty members on the panel and plans to bring their insight on using theater as a vehicle for social change through engaging various demographics and reflecting their stories through performance. Williams said the conversation will focus on accessibility and inclusivity in the arts.

They said they specialize in creating interactive and educational performances for communities of people who may not have a traditional artistic background. Their inspiration to pursue these performances stems from their own experiences as a queer Black person and the lack of representation they saw in the arts from a young age.

“I like to think about how we can create theatrical dramatic works, products that engage those populations, whether it’s through an artistic process and having those bodies and stories on stage, or having those demographics in the audience and seeing their stories reflected to them and performed,” Williams said. “I think telling our stories can be a form of resiliency.”

The panel will take place Feb. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hammer Auditorium in the Flagg Building.

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