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The Suzy Greenberg MFA Juried Exhibition

Opening Reception Saturday, February 26, 2022 from 6-9PM

Exhibition Runs: February 26 – March 26, 2022

Work by Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa, Olivia Gallenberger, Cody Hilleboe, MAC, Prerna, David Ruhlman, and Anda Tanaka.


This will be SooVAC's 20th year of exhibiting MFA candidates, honoring SooVAC's Founder Suzy Greenberg, for her vision and commitment to emerging artists. The pandemic has been difficult for students receiving their MFA in the arts. With fewer opportunities to showcase their work outside of academia, we welcomed this opportunity to expand this year's MFA Juried Exhibition to include candidates from both the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota. This exhibition was juried by Nicole Soukup, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Coordinator of the Minnesota Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  


Statement about the Exhibition from Juror Nicole Soukup: The artworks in “The Suzy Greenberg MFA Juried Exhibition” share a particular aesthetic---one that relishes in the details. The delight of clay. The tactility of painting. The acts of transformation. These works are as varied as the artists that created them. Yet all were made during the absurdity of the past two years. 


A Master's of Fine Arts degree is built upon the unique social constructs of studio practice. Your work is hyper-scrutinized and over-theorized in front of you for years at a time. Afterward, you are unceremoniously sent off into the world alone. This exhibition provides a glimpse of what can remain when the social foundations are confined to virtual platforms.


As a curator and scholar of contemporary art, I cannot think of a more appropriate grouping to honor Suzy Greenberg's legacy and, simultaneously, capture the oddity of being in a studio-based program throughout the pandemic. Suzy was a steadfast advocate for emerging artists---those who are finding their footing in an unstable world. 

About the Artists: 

Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa was born in Kyoto, Japan and graduated from MCAD in 2021, and is a recent recipient of a 2022 creative support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Jocelyn’s work explores her mixed identity and longing to be more connected to her Japanese roots, often incorporating the traditional Japanese sewing method, nami nui (波縫, nami nui, or “wave stitch), a skill passed down from generations of her mother's family.


Olivia Gallenberger is an MFA candidate in sculpture and ceramics at the University of Minnesota and recently received the Brown MacKenzie Arts Fellowship. Olivia’s work is devoted to the malleability of clay, and closely connected to her memories of watching her Father and Grandfather knead dough for their bakery. Olivia creates limbs as a way of reclaiming her body through the somatic experience of clay.  


Cody Hilleboe is an MFA candidate in ceramics at the University of Minnesota and is in the collection of the Taos Ceramics Center in New Mexico. Cody’s work explores the process of struggle, addiction and the unknown, forms balance between soft and rigid reflecting the stubborn insistence of life.


MAC is an MFA candidate at MCAD, and recently received a MFA Trustee Scholarship, and a Central Minnesota Arts Board Individual Artist Grant. MAC’s paintings are inspired by the fantastical explorations of childhood media, using color and an inherent sweetness to passively conceal darker narratives.


Prerna was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and is currently an MFA candidate in sculpture at the University of Minnesota. Prerna previously exhibited work at SooVAC in her solo exhibition, Today, we become, and a group show Put it in the Chat. Prerna uses the aesthetics of bureaucracy to explore the contradictions of legitimacy in America, as she explores this temporary status as a non-resident with no last name.


David Ruhlman received his MFA in from MCAD in 2020 and is currently working as an art instructor. David’s work reflects living as an outlier, and a childhood raised in a religiously unconventional household where signs and prophecies surrounded him. Throughout his practice he now develops his own sets of codes and visual language seeking to transform the ordinary into the transcendent.


Anda Tanaka is an MFA candidate at MCAD and has recently exhibited at Crossings Gallery (Harvard Ed Portal) in Boston and Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis. Anda centers her work around the notion of smallness, lifting up the repetitive, cyclical practices of domestic life. Her studio practice is a microcosmic ecosystem of intentional cycles of material and conceptual (re)generation. The byproduct of one project creates material for the next, ultimately her practice is in resourcefulness, sustainability, and care.

About the Juror:

Nicole Soukup joined Mia as a research assistant for the Departments of Contemporary Art and Photography/New Media in 2010. In 2017, she was named an Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Project Coordinator. During her time at Mia, Nicole has assisted with numerous exhibitions, including “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness,” “The Sports Show MN,” and “Sacred.” From 2015–2016, she served as the interim coordinator for the MAEP, overseeing 10 exhibitions. Building on her interests in intersectional feminism and social practice, she curated and helped organize the “Guerrilla Girls’ Twin Cities Takeover” at multiple arts venues in 2016. After graduating from the University of Minnesota—Morris, Nicole earned an MA from the University of Florida, focusing her thesis research on the role of photography and film in American Modernism.

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