Captured on Video: The SMFA 2016 Graduate Thesis Screening


The Safarani Sisters, “Cocoon,” episode one. Image Courtesy of the Artists.

Thesis season is upon us. On Wednesday May 4th, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) presented a selection of videos and films made by the school’s 2016 MFA students. Much of the work shown was exceptional, proving that an interdisciplinary approach to an art education such as that at the SMFA, produces work rich in substance.

Among the many highlights of the night was Kaeley Boyle’sNancy, a beautifully framed and shot video about a delusional woman attempting to create her own dream reality. With a “feel” that is reminiscent of an Almodovar film, Boyle’s filmmaking future looks bright to me.

Caroline Dahlberg and Caleb Smith had the most laughs of the night with OK Stupid—a collaborative video that accurately captures the never-ending saga of misunderstandings and back-and-forth messages that is the world of online dating.

Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, The Safarani Sisters screened one of the most thoughtful and enigmatic videos of the night. Cocoon is a seductive, intimate and profound portrait exploring the sisters’ identity and place in the world. What I experienced was poetry set to a visual montage of stark images composed of mostly empty rooms, windows and stairs, creating a haunting effect that lingered on hours after viewing it.

Tian Xia Wei Gong (The World is One Community for All) was the only documentary-style film of the night. In this piece, Yang Yang follows three Chinese immigrants working in Boston’s Chinatown as a tailor, hair stylist and an antique shop owner. Yang captures the struggles, hopes and aspirations of these individuals working towards the realization of their own version of the “American Dream.” For me, Yang’s work posed many questions about our place in our community and our—as well as others’ perceptions of it. I hope we get to see more work like this coming from this talented filmmaker.

Ryan Leitner’s video Everyone’s Coming Through Their Own Tiny Door, is a feast for the senses. With luscious colors, Leitner’s film is an ode to water and the landscapes that inform much of this artist’s work.

Other artists that screened their work include Arturo Mejia, Soyoon Cha, Furen Dai, Maryam Safajoo, Gabriel Sosa, Dekuan Deng, and Tamara Almashouk. Some of these works—as well as those I did not write about in this post—will be on view at the Museum School’s annual The Cyclorama Show – Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition in Boston’s South End. The Cyclorama show is on view from Tuesday May 17 through Friday May 20.