Berkeley, CA, March 17, 2006-The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents The Flaming Sword of Truth: The 36th Annual University of California, Berkeley, Master of Fine Art Graduate Exhibition, an exhibition of work by MFA students presented in collaboration with UC Berkeley's Department of Art Practice. The exhibition opens May 3 and runs through May 21, 2006. The seven artists featured are Sarah Cain, Jaime Cortez, Leo Estevez, Jonn Herschend, Kenneth Lo, Peter Nelson, and Will Rogan.
The Flaming Sword of Truth not only represents the culmination of their graduate degree, but also provides students the valuable experience of participating in a museum exhibition, in addition to exposing some of the most promising new artists in the Bay Area to the community.
The Flaming Sword of Truth explores the concept that there exists a single objective truth, and questions our perceptions and commonly held assumptions. All seven artists offer their interpretations of truth as it is shaped and reshaped over time. They choose to embrace its many guises and subtle mutations with a mixture of humor, sarcasm, doubt, and poignancy.
Jonn Herschend exposes the mutability of truth and memory in his PowerPoint presentations and paintings, by recounting a chain of events as the artist remembers them in random iterations. By the end of his PowerPoint presentations, the "facts" have strayed far from their original sources, and the all-too-familiar maxim "based on a true story" is blown comically out of proportion. In contrast, artist Leo Estevez invites the viewer to engage with text physically. At first sight, his three-dimensional sculpted letters resemble random shapes or objects scattered across the wall, but on closer inspection, the objects unexpectedly become text.
Sarah Cain's artistic practice covers a wide range of approaches, from site-specific and site-transferable installations to large-scale works on paper. Her architectural interventions consist of paintings that extend out from existing structures like appendages, accentuating a doorjamb or a window molding. Unlike Estevez's, Cain's play with perception is understated and muted.
Will Rogan's work often begins with an innocent scrutiny of daily life, which then undergoes a thorough dissection. Stripped of time and suspended in space, the domestic and urban settings in his photographs transcend their familiarity and become immortalized not as pictorial memories of a specific instance, but as distillations of affect.
Peter Nelson's mixed-media sculptures serve as metaphors for the organic world. Nelson's elaborately constructed "systems," which resemble science experiments, force viewers to become aware of their own verticality and mobility as he or she maneuvers through the surrounding environment. At times disorienting and intrusive, these manufactured landscapes challenge the buffer zone we call our personal space.
Jaime Cortez and Kenneth Lo's search for truth in the realms of cultural identity and pop culture take on heroic proportions. Cortez's photo-realistic drawings of comic book–style heroes mirror our cultural fascination with disguise and righteousness. Lo's mock documentary portraying himself as a great street ball player unfolds in a montage of testimonials by various characters, all played by Lo himself, in an attempt to pass off an illusion as actual.
Sunday, May 21, 3 p.m.
In this program of gallery talks, the artists will speak informally about their work in the exhibition, and museum visitors will have the opportunity to converse with them.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, the William H. Donner Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Gap Inc., other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.
Gap Inc. is proud to support First Impressions: Free First Thursdays at BAM/PFA. For more information about Free First Thursday gallery tours and screenings visit our website at bampfa.berkeley.edu.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Located at 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.
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Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, 11 to 5; Thursday 11 to 7. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
General admission is $8; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non-UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13 – 17) is $5; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 is free; admission for group tours is $3 per person (to arrange a group tour, call  642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.
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