Yuri Stone on curating the MFA thesis exhibitions

In April and May, the Weitzman School will open the thesis exhibitions for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 in the MFA program in the Department of Fine Arts. The exhibitions will be on view at the Icebox Project Space at the Crane Arts building, by appointment only, from April 25-May 7 for the Class of 2020 and May 14-27 for the Class of 2021.

The exhibitions’ curator is Yuri Stone, assistant curator at the Glenstone Museum, in Potomac, Maryland where he works with artists to realize exhibitions, publications, and long-term outdoor installations. Stone arrived at Penn to work with the graduating year MFA students just prior to the pandemic, and was invited to curate these exhibitions by Ken Lum, the Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor and chair of fine arts.

“Working with artists via screen, especially those that work spatially or make work in sculpture, prompts a challenge to reconsider how one articulates what their artwork is and does,” says Stone. “And for me, as a curator, I find myself asking different questions than I might if we were in a room together with the artwork.”

Curating an exhibition that includes every students’ work, while interacting with the student and the artwork online, is a new challenge for Stone. “Working with artists via screen, especially those that work spatially or make work in sculpture, prompts a challenge to reconsider how one articulates what their artwork is and does. And for me, as a curator, I find myself asking different questions than I might if we were in a room together with the artwork,” he says. “My goal,” he adds, “is to meet each artist where they are in their process and to work with each artist to show their strongest work in a balanced and thoughtful exhibition. The other important goal, for me at least, is to have this presentation be productive for everyone involved.”

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