Special BFA Show at CIA

An annual event takes on grand stature with new campus openings

CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART 11610 EUCLID AVE., 216-421-7000, cia.edu

There are plenty of exciting arts events around town this weekend (and we've got those covered for you online), but the place to be this weekend is Cleveland Institute of Art's newly remodeled Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts and the adjoining, newly constructed George Gund Building (11610 Euclid Ave.). From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Friday, CIA hosts a reception for this year's BFA Exhibitions by graduating seniors

Although these exhibitions have been taking place every fall for decades, Friday's opening reception is particularly special, because it is the first in CIA's newly unified campus. Soon, CIA's old George Gund Building (11141 East Blvd.) will close its doors forever. Don't miss your chance to be part of this important milestone.

Every year, graduating seniors spend months working with faculty to develop and execute their BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) exhibitions as their capstone projects required for graduation. Each student is also responsible for converting a portion of CIA's campus into a suitable exhibition space. Following a week of faculty-reviewed BFA defenses, the exhibitions open to the public for the weekend.

This year features more than 100 exhibitions by graduating seniors. This year's projects include a children's book for kids dealing with depression, a video of one student's 11-hour glass-blowing marathon, a re-branding project for the International Woman's Air & Space Museum and a display illustrating bird flight.

The work is as eclectic as CIA's majors, which include animation, biomedical art, ceramics, drawing, game design, glass, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture, jewelry and metals, painting, photography and video, printmaking, and sculpture and expanded media.

"The BFA thesis exhibition is the most important assignment that a CIA student undertakes," says CIA president Grafton Nunes. "It's a body of work, the result of months of research and artistic exploration to create a powerful visual narrative. Creating the BFA exhibition launches the young artist's or designer's professional career. And seeing more than 100 of these exhibitions together is just a thrilling art experience for our friends and the general public."

It all culminates at this Friday's reception. At 8 p.m., Nunes will announce the winners of the 2015 President's Traveling Scholarships. Every year, students submit formal proposals to pursue special, post-baccalaureate projects. Six graduates will receive cash awards to enhance their education and jumpstart their careers.

"The individual BFA thesis exhibitions represent the best work, the best thinking and research and making that our students produce after four years of a fine arts education at a very high level," adds CIA's Reinberger Galleries director Bruce Checefsky. "Collectively, these exhibitions form one fabulous but very short-lived art fair."

"The BFA Exhibition attracts serious collectors and lots of other people who just love to see what young creative people are making," adds Checefsky. "We encourage people to come out, see the work and help us celebrate creativity and innovation on a grand scale."

"After four years of a challenging and demanding education in art, design, and scholarship, the BFA show may be, for some of these artists, their first important exhibition — but for none of them will it be the last," claims CIA's V.P. of faculty affairs and chief academic officer Christopher Whittey. "Paraphrasing Marx, the goal of the creative fields is not the mere decoration of the world in various ways. The point is to change it. And this immensely varied and committed work is the first step in that life-long voyage for our gifted alums."

CIA alumni have certainly established quite a pedigree for this year's class. In fact, seven alumni and three faculty members were awarded Individual Excellence Awards by the Ohio Arts Council just last month. They include Judith Brandon '87, Kristen Cliffel '90, Timothy Callaghan '99, Timothy Gaewsky '01, Scott Goss '06, Ann Kmieck '83 and Jason Milburn '03; as well as faculty members Sarah Kabot, assistant professor and chair of the drawing department; Amy Sinbondit, technical specialist and adjunct faculty member in the ceramics department; and Sai Sinbondit, adjunct faculty member in the foundation department.

The BFA Exhibitions remain open to the public until 10 p.m. Friday evening. Additional viewing hours are available on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Limited parking is available in the CIA parking lots on the east and south of the complex; public parking is available across Euclid Avenue, behind Constantino's Market and Barnes & Noble; and on Ford Drive, immediately north of Euclid Avenue.

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