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UC San Diego Artists’ Exhibition Held Downtown Draws Hundreds


For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts held its MFA exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (MCASD). DOSSIER THALAMUS was on view from May 13 – June 3 at MCASD and was frequented by more than 1,200 visitors. The exhibition featured graduating MFA candidates Lyndsay Bloom, Tanya Brodsky, Stefani Byrd, Lucas Coffin, Jena Cummiskey, Shana Demassi, Angie Jennings, Kara Joslyn, Collective Magpie, Erika Ostrander and Kyle J. Thompson.

Several Department of Visual Arts faculty and students have a professional relationship with MCASD, so it was a fitting place for the annual exhibition. The planning was led by Visual Arts Professor Anya Gallaccio.

“I just took a chance and picked up the phone and called Hugh Davies (MCASD Director) directly. It was a long shot, but I didn't think I had anything to lose; the worst they could say was no,” explained Gallaccio.

The faculty-artist, with her department’s support, was able to secure the MCASD exhibition space. Her next challenge was speeding up the MFA exhibition timeline.

“The artists did an incredible job responding with good grace and upping their game to install the show with only four days’ notice,” said Gallaccio, adding that DOSSIER THALAMUS opened a week earlier than the group planned to exhibit had the event been held on campus.

Fortunately, the opening of DOSSIER THALAMUS coincided with MCASD’s Downtown and Sundown program. With approximately 500 visitors on the first day, the reception was successful and an exciting moment for graduating MFA candidates.

“A museum show on your resume isn't something that happens every day, and I hope it is something we can repeat,” stated Gallaccio.       

DOSSIER THALAMUS was curated by undergraduate alumna Selene Preciado, who opened her curatorial statement by linking the diverse practices of participating artists.

“In an attempt to find associations beyond the surface, past the idea of coexisting as a cohort with shared experiences and symbiosis, language seemed the appropriate vehicle to

connect the work of these twelve artists,” she said. “The title evokes the senses and cerebral functions.”

Preciado explained further that recent findings in thalamic research suggest that this organ links perception and action—concepts associated with artistic production and the reception of a work of art.

“Serious or tongue-in-cheek, this title (Dossier Thalamus) is also a direct allusion to the University of California San Diego as the institution that encloses the MFA program this group of artists belongs to, and its prominent programs in science and technology.”

Both the concept and the site of the exhibition were original. Gallaccio emphasized the importance of experimenting with different spaces in developing as an artist.

“We learn from experience, and it is essential that we provide our students with multiple opportunities to test themselves and grow,” she said.

DOSSIER THALAMUS was a celebratory closing chapter for the 12 featured artists, and Gallaccio concluded, “This is a dynamic cohort with a powerful and compelling voice. I am excited to see where they go now.” 

For more information about DOSSIER THALAMUS please visit the website. The Department of Visual Arts at UC San Diego is ranked 13th in the nation for fine arts, according to U.S. News & World Report, with high-ranking specialties in multimedia and sculpture.  



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