AO On Site – New York: Opening of Yale Photography MFA Thesis show at Ana Tzarev Gallery through July 21, 2012

July 22nd, 2012

Katie Koti, The Pull (2011). All photos taken on site for Art Observed by Ryann Donnelly

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.

Opening of Group Portrait Yale Photography MFA Thesis Show

Thomas Gardiner, Untitled (2011).


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.

Felix R. Cid, 11M Protest, Madrid (left) and Bull Fight, Madrid (Right), (2012).

Peter Baker, CASH- Clean Air, Hybrid, Electric, The Bronx (2011).

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.

Maayan Strauss, Untitled (2012).

Sarah Muehlbauer, Armenian Living Room (2010).

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.

Pao Houa Her, Hmong Veteran (2012).

Kate A.T. Merrill My Dad Dancing (2012).

Katie Koti, Icarus (2011).

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.

Richard Choi, Untitled (Prayer) (2011).

Thomas Gardiner, Untitled (2011).

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.

—R. Donnelly

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