College of Visual and Performing Arts Presents M.F.A. Exhibition ‘Steady/ Retcon’

Master of fine arts (M.F.A.) candidates in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) are presenting the thesis exhibition “Steady/Retcon” through May 15 across three venues on the Syracuse University campus.

Curated by Laura Dvorkin ’06, “Steady/Retcon” features the work of 29 M.F.A. candidates from VPA’s School of Art (studio arts and illustration programs), School of Design, and Department of Film and Media Arts. The venues include the Syracuse University Art Museum, Point of Contact Gallery and the Sue and Leon Genet Gallery. Receptions will be held at all three venues during the month of April (see schedule below).

Traditionally a literary and cinematic technique, “retcon” is the abbreviation of “retroactive continuity” and refers to a new piece of information introduced to a story that alters the interpretation of a previously established narrative. “Retcon” is not just employed in a fictional context, read in a book or viewed on a screen but experienced in the world around us. In the current climate, we are absorbing new information constantly (like it or not!), and it is challenging the way we see everything—day to day, hour to hour. Our internal database is developing at record speed. What was recognized as commonplace merely a year ago is being reexamined, and at times, by the entire world in unison.

The artists in this exhibition are evaluating and reframing their personal histories, traditional standards of art-making and history as a whole. While in everyday life, the constant introduction of so-called “facts” and opinions appear erratic; the investigations held within the artworks in the exhibition are much more intentional, slower-paced, steady. They are careful and curious assessments removed from the web of media and into meticulously presented ideas. 

The exhibition schedule is as follows. All events are free and open to the public.  Please visit each exhibition venue website for specific visitor information and hours.

Syracuse University Art Museum

Shaffer Art Building, Main Campus
Gallery reception: April 7, 5-7 p.m.
Exhibiting artists: Sam Azghandi, Aaron Burleson, Manya Gadhok, Jana Herman, Xuan Liu, Lebogang Neo Matseke, Valeria Chikaodile Oha, Shuoran Zhou, Zhu Zhu, Michael Christopher Zuhorski

Point of Contact Gallery
350 West Fayette St., Syracuse
Gallery reception: April 14, 5-7 p.m.
Exhibiting artists: Patrick Boehmcke, Kevin Frazier, Sierra Haynes, Douglas Johnson, Tamara Jordan, Mike Kalish, Ting Kang, Alex Kulick, Leah Bella Zinder

Sue and Leon Genet Gallery
350 West Fayette St., Syracuse
Gallery reception: April 21, 5-7 p.m.
Exhibiting artists: Zhiying Chen, London Ladd, Muge Li, Xuan Liu, Yanyi Liu, Andrea Osby, Braeden Raymer, Moesha Wright, Kaicheng Yang, Yuru Zheng

About the Curator
Laura Dvorkin ’06 is the co-curator of “The Bunker Artspace: Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody” in West Palm Beach, Florida. She has worked with the collection since 2008, managing large presentations of the collection at institutions and the exhibitions that DeWoody curates. Dvorkin’s recent exhibitions include “In The Absence of Light: Gesture, Humor and Resistance in The Black Aesthetic” at the Rebuild Foundation, Chicago, and “A Very Anxious Feeling: Voices of Unrest in the American Experience” at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia.

Dvorkin is the associate art consultant for the Eventi Hotel, New York; co-curator of 53 West 53, the Residential MoMA Expansion Tower, New York; and consults on acquisitions for private clients. Dvorkin lives and works between New York City and West Palm Beach.

Artist Bios

Syracuse University Art Museum Artists

Sam Azghandi is an Iranian filmmaker, actor, editor and sound designer. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in film at the College of Visual Performing Arts at Syracuse University. Most of his work explores themes of gender, race and class in queer and immigrant lives. His projects have thus far been screened in Indianapolis; Palm Springs, California; Australia; Los Angeles; New York State; and Texas.

Aaron Burleson (b. 1996) is a photographer born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut, a suburb outside the state’s capitol. He received a bachelor of fine arts in photography with an art history minor from Hartford Art School and is currently a master of fine arts candidate and adjunct instructor at Syracuse University.

Manya Gadhok
@manyagadhok, @instamanyagadhok

Jana Herman (b. 1992) is an artist working with image and text originally from Massachusetts. Her practice considers memory, forgetting and the evolution of understanding through time. She has assisted artists and educators across media and graduated from Oberlin College in 2015. @janaherman

Xuan Liu (b. 1997 China) is an interdisciplinary artist. She works conceptually through social engagement actions and performances, which offer places for her to examine strategies of dealing with real-life struggles. Her works have been exhibited internationally in New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc. @liuxuan1895

Lebogang Neo Matseke (b. 1983) is a South African native filmmaker and screenwriter. She has studied three degrees around the world, all of which are connected one way or another to her main love—the sharing of stories through various types of media. She has published a novella titled “Queen B.E.E.” and received accolades for her documentary “Dear Whoever, Love Lebo” and short script “The Rain Queen’s Wife.” @lebomatseke

Valeria Chikaodile Oha was born to Nigerian parents who made sure she was exposed to their culture throughout her childhood. Currently she is working with mixed media to showcase the struggles of being a black woman in America. Her current body of work focuses on exploring the idea that society both demonizes and fetishes the black body. @themelantedfemme_valeria

Shuoran Zhou (b. 1997 Beijing, China) makes wearable objects using mainly glass beads to address common stereotypes toward women’s social roles and aims at advocating women’s autonomy. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Spain, China and the United States as well as in various online exhibitions. @shuoranzhou

Zhu Zhu grew up in a family with artistic tradition, so art looked appealing to her when she was a child. She decided to choose art as her undergraduate study major as well as her life career. In 2018 she came to the U.S and began to learn computer art. During this time, she started to try new ways to show her concept in her work. She makes experimental animation and some sculptures in her M.F.A. degree.  @zhuazhua_zhu

Michael Christopher Zuhorski (b. 1992) was born in Detroit. In 2015 he received a B.F.A. in photography from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. His practice is concerned with gradual change, sustained attention and the fragile relation between seeing and knowing. @michael_zuhorski

Point of Contact Gallery Artists

Patrick Boehmcke (b. 1993 Philadelphia) is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Using video as his primary tool, his work spans a variety of forms and genres, including poetry, documentary, comedic skits and sci-fi/horror narratives. His work largely focuses on the alienation, oddity and yearning of suburban American living. @xxbottomless_pitxx Vimeo: Patrick Boehmcke

Kevin Frazier is an artist from Chicago who is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He received a B.F.A. from the University of Missouri and an M.F.A. in studio art from Syracuse University. If not in the studio you can find him hanging around the climbing gym or skatepark. @lazerbeams_unlimited

Sierra Haynes (b. 1997) was born in Syracuse, New York. In 2015 she received a B.F.A. in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Her work deals with ideas of family, memory and childhood, by way of observing her surroundings to realize a deeper understanding. @sierramhaynes

Douglas Johnson is curious about painting, digital space, world-building, video games and always wants to see beautiful things if he can find them. He is originally from New England and grew up in the Carolinas. From a young age, he was interested in drawing, painting, games and music. He now works at the intersection of painting and digital technology.

Tamara Jordan

Mike Kalish (b.1964) spent his childhood outside Albany, New York. He discovered an interest in making sculpture during his first semester of college. An intervening lifetime returned Kalish to upstate New York and to the organized pursuit of his art. A student of affordances, our sensitivities still confound him. @kalishmichael

Ting Kang (b. 1998 Beijing, China) received her B.F.A in environmental and interior design (EDI) in 2020 from Syracuse University, where she is now pursuing an M.F.A in design. She works inter-disciplinarily and has a great passion for sustainable design, service design thinking, bio-design, art therapy, etc. @Maggiek.t

Alex Kulick (b.1995) is an interdisciplinary artist working with artificial intelligence, machine learning, video projection, printmaking and installation. Using her roots in the South as thematic influence, and through the use of “deepfakes,” AI-generated moving image and sculptural installation, she explores how interpersonal, domestic and public space affect the individual.@kulickarts

Leah Bella Zinder is an artist passionate about historical crafts, including lace-making and metalsmithing. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in studio arts at Syracuse University and received a B.F.A. in metals from the University of Illinois. She is also involved in the local Jewish community, where she teaches young children. @LeahBella.Z

Sue and Leon Genet Gallery Artists

Zhiying Chen is an award-winning illustrator based in New York State. She graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art’s B.F.A. illustration program. She is currently studying in Syracuse University’s M.F.A. illustration program. Her illustrations have been recognized by Communication Art, Spectrum Fantasy Art, iJungle Illustration, etc. @zhiying_illustration

London Ladd, currently pursuing an M.F.A. in illustration at Syracuse University, uses a mixed-media approach to bring his diverse subjects to life. His goal is to open a visual arts community center for lower-income families so they can create their own art. He lives in Syracuse, New York. @london.ladd

Muge Li is a current illustration M.F.A. student at Syracuse University who likes digital drawing with textures. She focuses on drawing children’s picture books and making up her own stories. She also focuses on packaging design and editorial illustration. She wants to bring cheerfulness and joy to people’s lives. @muge.lii

Xuan Liu is an illustrator and designer based in Syracuse, New York. She works in a range of media: printmaking, watercolor, digital painting and mixed media. Her work has a mysterious, quiet atmosphere. @xuanillu

Yanyi Liu was born and raised in Chongqing, China, a place where almost all food is spicy. Her work has a clear personal style, and each character in her illustrations has their own personality. Recently her work has been selected in Communication Arts, AI-AP Motion Art Awards, 3×3 Illustration Annual, World Illustration Awards, etc. @zoooeliu

Andrea Osby is a digital illustrator from Memphis, Tennessee. She has an interest in concept art for the video game industry. She received a B.F.A. in fine art with a concentration in painting from Mississippi State University. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in illustration at Syracuse University.

Braeden Raymer received a B.F.A. from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, in 2019. He has illustrated for clients including Terakeet, the Indiana State Fair and the Seattle Seahawks. A recent illustration of his was selected for the Society of Illustrators’ 64th Annual publication and exhibition in New York City. @braedenraymer

Moesha Wright is an illustrator/painter who expresses herself through figures and vibrant colors. She is from a small town in Mississippi named Booneville. She currently resides in Syracuse, New York, where she is pursuing an M.F.A. in illustration. Her subject matter usually involves people of color and has to do with overcoming adversity. Her current thesis work is centered around African mythology and focuses on the goddess of beauty, love, and fertility: Oshun.

Kaicheng Yang is from China and received a B.F.A. in environmental design from Sichuan University, Chengdu. He studied illustration at ArtCenter College of Design before attending Syracuse University. His work includes fine art, comics and concept art, in both realistic and abstract styles.

Yuru Zheng is an illustrator, cartoonist and story writer. She is working on building bridges between words and images, and her work ranges from comic drawing to scriptwriting, character design, etc. @tanlantazheng