Art students to open up workspaces in Open Studio

Sophie Mann, Assistant A&E Editor


In the basement of Locy Hall, artwork of all media is being created constantly.

Northwestern’s Masters of Fine Arts program and its students will strive to bring the work created underground to light at the MFA program’s Open Studio this weekend. Matthew Martin, assistant program director at the Art Theory and Practice department, said that the event is one of the first of its kind at NU. Graduate students will invite people into their studios and bring awareness to their work and the program itself, which is a smaller MFA program of only 10 students.

“This is something the graduate students themselves have spearheaded,” Martin said. “They haven’t had a public open studio, so we helped them publicize this as much as we can.“

Daniel Stephen Miller, a first-year MFA student who pushed for the event, said the Open Studio will give NU’s program some necessary exposure in Chicago.

“We wanted to share our work with the wider Chicago art community, so it’s really about sharing who we are and where we are and what we do to create a bit more visibility for the program,” Miller said. “We’re respected, but under recognized.”

Each student will open up his or her studio to the public this weekend to let others into their workspace. There is no theme to the event, since each artist is working on something different, Martin said. In addition, each student chooses how they want others to perceive their studio space. Some will be using this as a means of social interaction and displaying their work to the community, but others will be using this as a “quasi-exhibition space,” Miller said.

Another MFA first-year student, Max Guy, will be using the open studio as an exhibition-type setting.

“I’ve done a couple of things in my studio to make the setting always sort of an exhibition space,” Guy said. “I painted the walls, and I have some pieces here and there; it makes it more homey for me, but it also gives everything else a different context.”

On the other hand, Laura McGinn, a second-year student, isn’t quite sure what she’s showing yet.

“My studio is pretty big, and I haven’t figured out what I’m going to be showing,” McGinn said. “It’s going to be a kind of interesting space angle because I’ve been working with blue lights, so I don’t know if it’ll feel like a studio space or a night club.”

Martin also noted that the work is related to the students’ research and interests, not coursework, as undergraduate showcases often are. Artists will be showing pieces that interest them and emphasize their areas of research.

“The thing I want to caution against is that the graduate students aren’t showing work,” Martin said. “It’s focused around the idea of research, which happens to have a physical or production component. They say, ‘I have this idea. This is a topic I want to research.”’

Opening their studios to the public allows each artist to show what interests them, but also creates a safe space, allowing the community to come see what’s happening on the artists’ turf.

“I think we’re trying to be more inviting into our studios, and I think that alleviates expectations,” Guy said. “I think in everybody’s studios you’ll probably see sketches and other materials that will show you what’s on our mind.”

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