Notre Dame MFA students shine in Solarium art and design exhibition

Author: The Graduate School

2022 Solarium Gallery Exhibition: Preview2022 Solarium Gallery Exhibition: Preview

The light-filled Solarium space inside iconic Bond Hall once again transformed into an art and design gallery this February, showcasing some of the finest visual work of Notre Dame graduate students in the master of fine arts (MFA) programs in studio art and design.

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An annual tradition hosted by the Graduate School, the 2022 Solarium exhibition — titled Intersections, in tribute to the wide range of interests brought together — invited visitors to explore a juried sampling of art and design work from nine current MFA students:

  • Jason Carley — Industrial Design
  • Alex Carmen — Ceramics
  • Riley Fichter — Sculpture
  • Geneva Hutchinson — Photography
  • Jonathan Kusnerek — Ceramics
  • Joseph Matty—Photography
  • Jacob Lehmann—Painting
  • Hans Miles—Ceramics
  • Nik Swift—Visual Communication Design (in collaboration with Elle Velazquez)
Solarium gallery exhibition 2022: Intersections
Solarium gallery exhibition 2022: Intersections

Maria Tomasula, the Michael P. Grace Professor of Art and the director of graduate studies for the Department of Art, Art History and Design, noted the importance of having a venue like the Solarium exhibition where graduate students in studio art and design can share their work and ideas with the Notre Dame community and the community at large. “Our students are interested in giving their ideas material form,” she said, “and to have those objects and images speak to the viewers.” 

Tomasula also connected the students’ work to Notre Dame’s wider mission of being a force for good in the world. "For example,” she said, “industrial designer Jason Carley's work is motivated by his interest in sustainability over profits."

As the co-developer of the exhibition with Tomasula, Aaron Bell, graphic designer and communications specialist in the Graduate School, said this year’s collection of work stood out. “Of all of the gallery shows we have put on,” he said, “Intersections has been the most artistically diverse and interesting show yet.”

Housed within the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Art, Art History and Design develops students who are at the fore of interdisciplinary work and exploration, according to Michael Schreffler, the college’s associate dean for the arts. “Our graduate students in art and design engage in practice-based research that draws from a range of disciplines and fuses theory with creative process.” 

Schreffler went further: “The objects and images on view in Bond Hall are the outcomes of critical inquiry, but they also hold promise as generative forces for all who contemplate them. We are delighted that the Graduate School is continuing the tradition of exhibiting this work."   

Laura Carlson, dean of the Graduate School, praised the MFA students for their dedication and creativity at the opening reception on February 24. “It’s an honor to be able to showcase the work of these talented artists and designers,” she said. “Their work brings light and energy to this beautiful space in Bond Hall and is a wonderful symbol of our ongoing partnership with the Department of Art, Art History and Design. Every time I walk through the Solarium on my way to the Grad Defense Room, I feel renewed gratitude to the students for allowing us to have their inspiring work on loan.”

Carlson then announced the winners of three specific awards handed out by the exhibition’s jury. The winners included:

  • Jason Carley — Best Artist/Designer Award
  • Joseph Matty — Best in Show Award
  • Alex Carmen — People’s Choice Award

The exhibition is located in the Graduate School offices at 117 Bond Hall, and interested members of the Notre Dame community are encouraged to view the work in person during regular office hours.

We invite you now to explore our digital gallery, or scroll through the audio slideshow below and listen to a number of our Solarium 2022 participants discussing their own work.