Works in 2022 MFA Candidacy Exhibition ‘With Pleasure’ hold personal meanings for students

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The Fort Worth Contemporary Arts gallery features work from MFA students Benjamin Loftis, Sheryl Anaya, Madi Ortega and Sarah Theurer Hunt. (Sarah Crispi/Staff Writer) 

By Sarah Crispi

TCU’s second-year Master of Fine Arts candidates created works for “With Pleasure,” an exhibition with a focus on memories tied to a specific place.

The exhibition, which featured works in sculpture, painting and new media, was on display at TCU’s Fort Worth Contemporary Arts Gallery through Feb. 12 and can still be viewed virtually.

Sheryl Anaya, Benjamin Loftis, Madi Ortega and Sarah Theurer Hunt each worked with different mediums to reflect important memories through their art.  

Sheryl Anaya used sculpture and storytelling to re-create her childhood in Puerto Rico. Anaya said her most vivid memories are of her grandmother’s kitchen and food. 

“I wanted to use food items that were constant in my grandma’s pantry or my dad’s house,” Anaya said. She used crayons and colored pencils to color the objects, bringing a childlike nature to her installation. 

A closer look at some of Anaya’s ceramic food and pantry items using clay, crayons and colored pencils. (Sarah Crispi/Staff Writer) 

Madi Ortega also drew inspiration from memories with her grandparents.

Memories of her grandparents’ farm were so strong, Ortega included a patch of grassland and a birdhouse from the property in her installation. She said removing each piece was significant because it invoked recollections of memories such as chasing grasshoppers in the grass fields. Through her sculpture and oil paintings, she confronted her struggle with change.

“There are hidden meanings within my work if you look closely,” said Ortega. “Because the installation is more personal, I felt like hiding some specific elements made the piece more intimate.” 

Sarah Theurer Hunt used nocturnal landscapes to push her audience to see the sound, form and surface of her work from multiple directions.

Theurer Hunt said her body of work demonstrates the power of darkness just outside undeveloped spaces of uncertainty. The idea came from her night walks and how sounds are significant to being hyper-aware, said Hunt. The element of sound will more easily take you back to a certain place and memory, she said. 

Sarah Theurer Hunt’s nocturnal landscapes in the Fort Worth Contemporary Arts gallery. (Sarah Crispi/Staff Writer) 

Benjamin Loftis explored the intersectionality between the historically idealized male body and the discontinued body mechanic studies at Ivy League institutions.

These body mechanics classes examined and often ranked physical attributes, such as size and muscle mass. Loftis said the idea came from a picture he saw from the discontinued body mechanics studies at Harvard, which labeled male bodies as either thin, fat or strong.

“Judgment of the male body, that is not always specifically talked about, was a catalyst for the work in the show,” said Loftis. He said his work connects his childhood influences of the ideal body to personal body image. 

The MFA candidates plan to graduate in May of 2022.