Yale’s Photography MFA thesis show, presented by Wirth Art Advisory is on view at Ana Tzarev gallery in New York City through July 21. Curated by Sabrina Wirth, the show entitled Group Portrait features 9 emerging photographers: Peter Baker, Richard Choi, Felix R. Cid, Thomas Gardiner, Pao Houa Her, Katie Koti, Kate A. T. Merrill, Sarah Muehlbauer, and Maayan Strauss.
Taught by Yale photography head, Gregory Crewdson; the students’ work bares mystery and intimacy, similar to the work of their instructor. Though subjects range from Thomas Gardiner’s fiery red head flashing her breasts at the camera from a fast-moving sky-blue car, to the snow covered branches captured by Katie Koti, all find means of compelling the viewer, whether candid or staged tableau.
In the first room of the show are Felix R. Cid, and Peter Baker. Cid’s work layers several images of singular moment taken at different angles, while Baker captures the hustle of urban landscape as a paused moment. The second room finds the work of Maayan Strauss and Sarah Muehlbauer. Strauss housed some of her work in tall cases with images printed to blocks stacked presumably in series. Muehlbauer photographs environments is disarray as still life, salvaged by their rich palettes and odd assemblages.
The works of Pao Houa Her, Kate A. T. Merrill, Richard Choi, Katie Koti, and Thomas Gardiner were presented in the far room of the gallery. Curator Sabrina Wirth called these works an “intimate glimpse into each artist’s life and -out of all the artworks in the thesis show- the most focused on the human psyche.” Her presented a series of Hmong Veterans set against a lush raspberry curtain, as well as a self portrait of herself. Merrill’s work documents her family, including a naked photo of her father dancing around a pole. Koti also documents her family using a pale palette, building a narrative from the series.
Choi and Gardiner step outside of their personal experience to capture subjects whose narrative may be unknown, but begs for further examination. Choi uses images captured first by video, then presented as a single frame from a longer scene. Wirth says of Gardiner’s work that they capture, “special moments in which the subject is usually caught in a moment of reflection,” which includes the untitled 2011 portrait of a woman gazing wistfully beyond Gardiner’s camera, as she rests on a bed fully clothed, with mis-matched tapestries behind her.
The scope of Group Portrait is broad and showcases the dynamic aims of Yale’s graduating class. The work is united by a promising quality, and an intimate look at human diversity.