Choosing the artists wasn’t easy; there are nearly 400 students enrolled in MFA programs around the city — at UCLA, USC, CalArts, Art Center, Otis College of Art and Design, Cal State Long Beach and Claremont Graduate University — and many are very talented and deserving. Los Angeles already has a big student exhibition, of course, in the two-part “supersonic” show, which was at Barnsdall Art Center this year. But “supersonic,” though juried, isn’t curated — meaning that the students themselves choose what they want to show, often just one piece. We wanted to focus on fewer artists and give them more space. The monthslong process of looking at art — in studio whenever possible, otherwise via slides, disc or e-mail — was a communications nightmare, but a happy one.
If the theme that emerged from last year’s show was assemblage and atomization, this year it’s good old-fashioned craft — painting, primarily. Concept, yes, but with finish. The artists we’ve chosen are looking to make big statements, and they push their ideas to a sophisticated level of form. They show little in the way of superficial flash and, refreshingly, almost no irony. Coolness does not seem to have occurred to them. These artists are indeed emerging — from years of serious study and work.
So we make no apologies for raiding the art-school cradle. Some of the artists graduated earlier this year and have already found gallery representation; others are young and just beginning to show what they’ve got. All exhibit an impressive commitment to their work and to their futures as working artists. We have no doubt that you will be seeing a lot of them in the years to come. Check out their current work here and in person at the show, “State of Emergence 2006: MFA WMDs,” on display through October 13. Opening party Saturday, September 9, 7 to 11 p.m.; closing party Friday, October 13, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.