SOTA did an email interview with Elizabeth Kunath and Daniela Campins, two recent MFA graduates from southern California art schools who were part of the group that organized BOOM: 2011 Southern California MFA Group Exhibition. Institutions represented by BOOM artists include: Art Center College of Design – Pasadena, Claremont Graduate University, California State University Northridge, Otis College of Art and Design, University of California – Los Angeles, and University of California – Santa Barbara. BOOM was supported by the UCIRA and we look forward to seeing where this experiment in sharing resources across institutions goes. For more information on BOOM, see http://www.BOOMlosangeles.com
Q: Is BOOM responding to a perceived lack of critical attention or attendance at southern California area MFA exhibitions?
Elizabeth Kunath: Not exactly. Our original idea for BOOM was a result of finding out that the former “Super Sonic” (a very widely attended and massive production) was no longer happening. We wanted to create a smaller version of this to see if it would pick up – if other schools would be interested in participating, etc. I think the theme was “power in numbers”, maximizing visibility, but not in a way that forcefully compensates for a perceived lack of visibility or lack of attendance at MFA exhibitions. I am an MFA student at UC Santa Barbara, so our MFA exhibition audiences are slightly different than the those of the Los Angeles programs.
Q: How did the BOOM project get started? Who contacted whom and was there support from your home institutions?
Elizabeth Kunath: As previously discussed, the impetus for BOOM was in part, a response to the desire for another “Super Sonic” (at least on a smaller scale). So initially, Daniela Campins (a recent UCSB alumn) contacted a former curator/organizer for the Super Sonic exhibitions. Also, BOOM came about when the UCSB MFA students decided that a large-scale MFA exhibition for SoCal schools would be a good goal to shoot for for the upcoming year – to promote all of the participating programs, to provide a blended conversation of contemporary art practices, and to reinforce the SoCal emerging art community. Approximately 10 Southern California graduate art programs were contacted. Of those, representatives from 5 schools responded to the desire for a fairly comprehensive art exhibition. There were concerns with space, money and administration. Thankfully, we partnered up with LAUNCH LA, an LA-based non-profit that promotes contemporary art, who secured a space in the LA Mart building and helped with administrative, marketing and organizational tasks for the exhibition.
Daniela Campins: BOOM started independent from our home institution (UCSB art department), it was student organized, student funded at first. The same goes for the rest of the programs. Supersonic was a huge operation of over 300 graduates, many Socal schools were involved, the Southern California Consortium of Art Schools (SOCCAS) was involved, each art department and the UCIRA funded the exhibition and outreached for additional sponsorship.
BOOM started from scratch, it was a new name and it was difficult when we were first getting organized to receive support. For all of us it was the first time organizing a show of this magnitude (40+ artists, more than 100 art pieces), to be placed in a raw space that needed paint, clean-up, lights, etc… Thankfully, after things were up and running we received the 7000 sq ft basement space donated by the people from the LA Mart, who trusted our vision and helped us to achieve an amazing exhibition.
Elizabeth Kunath: The response has been good. It has generated conversations between artists from different programs, aligned people’s practices and provided a sense of the current state of the MFA for outsiders, fellow artists, faculty, etc. We hope that BOOM will go on through the efforts of next years graduate students with the support of LAUNCH LA and the UCIRA. We hope that the exhibition will grow to include more Southern California programs, which will mean finding a larger venue and of course, more money. We also hope that the exhibition will lead to more opportunities for the individual artists featured in the exhibition and more connections between the participants- be it personal or professional.
Daniela Campins: The response has been amazing! The work is fabulous and the space looks great. Many people have come in, enjoyed the work and have attended our events. The opening reception last month had maximum attendance, we were visited by other artists from the community, family and friends, writers and critics, faculty, gallery owners, collectors, etc…We have been invited to be part of Art PLatform–Los Angeles, a Contemporary art fair in LA this fall. Last week we organized a panel discussion and event sponsored by the UCIRA. The title was “SoCal MFA: Navigating the Complex Arena of the Emerging Artist”. In Addition other art schools have already started to approach us and shown their interest for next year. It is up to the new crop of MFAs to organize again and make it happen. I am certain that there will have another iteration of BOOM in 2012!