Graduate Exhibitors Win Prizes; Film Festival Next Week

Graduate Exhibit Open Through June 25; Students Develop Natural Press-On Nails

Streamers descending from trees next to sculpture in Manetti Shrem Museum of Art courtyard
This installation in Manetti Shrem Museum Courtyard, above, is part of the MFA exhibition ongoing through June. "Woman Life Freedom, 2022."
Nilou Maleki’s work centers around rethinking visual communication in the built environment. See full story below. (Hung Q. Pham Photography / Courtesy of the Manetti Shrem Museum)

MFA students win prizes; exhibit on view through June 25

Each year, graduate students in art studio and design are presented with awards that recognize and celebrate their contributions to the discipline and help further their careers. This year’s winners were honored at the June 8 opening event at the museum.

Three people holding award plaques with crowd in background in the Mondavi lobby of Manetti Shrem Museum, UC Davis
Alejandra Ruiz Suárez, Jordan Benton and Will Maxen hold the their awards after being awarded prizes in the annual MFA exhibition. The opening ceremony took place in the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Lobby of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art last Thursday.  (Hung Q. Pham Photography / Courtesy of the Manetti Shrem Museum)

Will Maxen was awarded the LeShelle & Gary May Art Purchase Prize. “Will Maxen examines the complex nuances of people’s interactions within their own levels of consciousness and their surrounding environments, inspired by his memory of growing up in a biracial household,” said Young Suh, professor of art and graduate chair. “Layers, textures and drips convey a range of emotions and reflect the fluidity of honest, turbulent feelings.”

Jordan Benton was awarded the Keister & Allen Art Purchase Prize. His work “delves into the intersection of technology and natural environments,” Suh said. “Utilizing photography and scientific research, Benton investigates fundamental concepts of nature.”

Alejandra Ruiz Suárez was awarded The Savageau Award for Design.

 “Alejandra has turned materials as seemingly inconsequential as lint — that stuff I find in my pocket after laundry — into a deeply researched, rigorous, clear and provocative vision of a circular economy,” noted Professor Simon Sadler, chair of the Department of Design. “The work is truly transdisciplinary, combining art, science and design into artifacts that are functional and poetic.”

The Arts & Humanities Graduate Exhibition is on view now through June 25. 

Find more information about the exhibition and participating students here

Woman Life Freedom, 2022 (in top photo)

Nilou Maleki’s work centers around rethinking visual communication in the built environment. The Woman Life Freedom installation shows the creative relationship between trauma, empathy, and design; in response to solidarity with the Iranian people while fighting against the Islamic republic for their fundamental human rights. #Mahsaamini UC Davis community members are being asked to share and spread the information to the world and raise awareness about what is happening in Iran in any possible way! People are encouraged to write one of the fundamental human rights on each ribbon to acknowledge the most significant women’s movement in history, which is happening in Iran now. The concept of the project and its relation to Dakhil ribbons: Expand the knowledge of cultural approaches, protest, solidarity, and being hopeful for the Iranian people to win their fight against the Islamic regime.

Design students compete as finalists with biodesign project on press-on nails

Poster showing prototype of a natural nail called "SeaNails"

SeaNails, a team of UC Davis design students, will be competing as finalists with their project at the Biodesign Challenge Summit 2023, June 22-23. This year’s summit will be held in person at the Museum of Modern Art and Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Professor Christina Cogdell, instructor of DES 128A and DES 128B, a two-quarter course called Biodesign Challenge, leads the student team, along with spring quarter co-instructor Andrew Yao, manager of the UC Davis BioInnovation Lab. The team consists of undergraduate students Yuwei Chang (bioscience), Sarika Kumar (design and mechanical engineering), Daniel Martinez (design and mathematics) and Leslie Valdez (design).

SeaNails are fully biodegradable press-on nails with polish and glitter made almost entirely from waste from fisheries. The nail itself is a fish scale cut to size, dyed in sugarbeet waste/dye, with glue made from fish air bladders, shimmer from fish skin guanine (which makes fish shine rainbow in the sun), with insect shellac as the hardener.

The team is a collaboration with a local start-up Aquaborne, who is the first US fish leather start-up in Sacramento. Their founder Nick (Nodar) Narsavidze reached out to UC Davis Department of Design in January 2023 to discuss design uses for fish leather that he is tanning, with waste from California fisheries. SeaNails uses the waste from Aquaborne’s process, so in essence, maximizing use of the waste from ocean catching as well as the local caviar industry.

The UC Davis team will present their project at the Summit and compete for the coveted Glass Microbe before a jury of leading industry, academic, and curatorial experts. The team is one of 46 finalist teams from 15 countries who spent the semester imagining, creating, and critiquing future applications of biotechnology and its role in society.

On June 22, the Biodesign Challenge will hold a gallery opening at Arnhold Hall at Parsons’ New School. The opening is free to the public and will feature artifacts and images created by the students.

-Michael G. French, author

Manetti Shrem’s Food for Thought: Facts and (Science) Fictions

June 23 – 25, Esther’s Park, 3408 3rd Ave., Sacramento

This series of events, spanning one weekend, is a platform for discussion arising from viewing two films, Sounder (1972) and The Martian (2015), which will be screened outdoors at Esther's Park in Sacramento. The films provide an anchor for an in-depth discussion between scholars, farmers, and community members around the history of farming and agriculture, with an emphasis on sugar and the ongoing story of Black contribution.

Food for Thought: Facts and (Science) Fictions is part of an initiative by artist Amanda Trager. Inaugurated in 2019 in New York City, Passing Through Projects (PTP) partners with local institutions to create public platforms for critical community engagement around particular topics with discussions and varied activities prompted by the screenings of popular films. Events happen in convivial, outdoor settings, and engage with the specific places where they take place.

This event takes place in Sacramento. For times and full details, please visit the DHI website.

Organized by the UC Davis Humanities Institute. Co-sponsored by California Humanities and the Manetti Shrem Museum.

Shapeshifters at The Barn Gallery

June 22 – Aug. 19, opening reception June 22, 5:30 – 8 p.m., The Barn Gallery

The exhibition features artists Caiti Chan, Mark Emerson, Laura Hohlwein and Jeff Mayry

Find more information here.

'The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England' in SF

June 24 – Sept. 24, Legion of Honor

Painting of Tudor subject, part of San Francisco art exhibit at Legion of Honor
Willem Scrots, Edward VI, King of England (detail), ca 1550. Oil on wood, Framed: 28 15/16 x 32 11/16 x 3 9/16 in. (73.5 x 83 x 9 cm); 22 13/16 x 26 3/4 in. (58 x 68 cm). Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, UK

The Legion of Honor is the sole West Coast venue for the first major exhibition of Tudor portraiture, textiles, sculpture, silver, jewelry and manuscripts in the United States.

The exhibition follows the development of the arts in England from Henry VII’s seizure of the throne in 1485 to the death of his granddaughter Elizabeth I in 1603. The Tudor period in England saw the end of medieval feudalism, the rise of absolute monarchy, the English Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the expansion of maritime trade. Art and luxury goods were used to legitimize the Tudor dynasty and reinforce shifting religious and foreign policies. Including iconic portraits of England’s most enduring monarchs and lavish works of art in a variety of media, the exhibition traces the evolution of courtly taste in Tudor England, culminating in the distinctly English Elizabethan style.

Find more information here.

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