whoop: there it is

fer·ma·ta: The 37th Annual University of California, Berkeley Master of Fine Arts Graduate Exhibition

May 18, 2007 – June 10, 2007

Each spring, the Berkeley Art Museum collaborates with the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley, mounting an exhibition of works by some of the most promising new artists in the Bay Area. This year’s M.F.A. graduates are Lindsay Benedict, Ali Dadgar, Kara Hearn, Bill Jenkins, Alicia McCarthy, Joe McKay, and Jenifer K. Wofford. Fer·ma·ta, which takes its title from a musical pause of unspecified length, reminds us to slow down, take a deep breath, and devote our time to the act of looking. With diverse backgrounds and varied artistic training, the artists in the exhibition illustrate this practice using strategies of intervention, performance, and introspection.

Video artist and multimedia performer Kara Hearn creates fictional vignettes that exploit the conventions of blockbuster films, extracting the pathos inherent in the medium. Featuring the artist in multiple roles that telegraph anxiety and fear, these playful psychological thrillers pull emotional strings that vacillate between humor and tragedy.
Aiming her camera and microphone toward the unheard voice, Lindsay Benedict collects moments of silence to build personal narratives using the media of performance, film, and photographic essay. Combining text and evocative image, these silent conversations spill out extremes of emotion that expose at once human vulnerability and the resilience of human relationships.

Hermetic and deeply personal, Bill Jenkins’s objects straddle the zone between sculpture and drawing, resembling relics unearthed from a forgotten landscape. Often restricting himself to a set of parameters, Jenkins finds limitations far more rewarding than being faced with too many choices.


Jenifer K. Wofford’s artistic persona encompasses the roles of activist, educator, performer, and community leader. Her work has long been rooted in her Filipina American heritage, spotlighting experiences of underrepresented voices in the visual arts. Currently focusing on the effects of institutional spaces, Wofford’s drawings borrow from the serial format of comics and graphic novels to recount the story of the universal immigrant trapped in the sterile confines of public spaces.

Drawing from outsider and folk art traditions, Alicia McCarthy paints recurring motifs on found wood or panel, often weaving paint line over line to embody the interconnected moments of human interaction that together make up her identity. Rejecting consumer goods, McCarthy’s work unearths and reworks discarded, found objects, each of which carries its own history and tells the story of a particular place and time.


Joe McKay’s photographs and video works are products of his digital interventions in the urban landscape that reveal incidental aesthetic parallels with the visual language of science-fiction adventures. McKay creates unexpected moments verging on the sublime while recontextualizing our view of the world through a utopian or dystopian lens.

Combining his background in performance with his formal training in the visual arts, Ali Dadgar creates large-scale mixed media collages transforming ordinary reference texts into an autobiographical tapestry. He embeds personal meaning among the universal definitions, while playing with notions of self and other, inclusion and exclusion in light of his Iranian background and the current political climate.

Overwhelmed as we might be by the current environment of technological urgency and visual velocity, fer·ma·ta compels us to pause and engage with the work of these seven artists as they embark upon their careers.

Miki Yoshimoto
Curatorial Assistant

The annual M.F.A. exhibition at BAMPFA is made possible by the Barbara Berelson Wiltsek Endowment.

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