Starting Conversations with “I’m Fine”

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Dana Hollister’s “Living with ADHD”

For me, my problems are like secrets: I only disclose them to my closest friends, and only when I am at my most vulnerable. If I want to complain about the struggles of adulthood or if I need to vent about my day, the ones with who I am most comfortable will be the ones to hear it. Despite having an amazing group of people supporting me, so much is still left unsaid, and it’s often easier to simply say “I’m fine” instead of discussing the depths of my worries.


Talking through these problems can be a difficult and overwhelming process. An initial barrier to these conversations is the complexity and uncertainty of these emotions that surround our problems: the root of our emotions is difficult to define and even more difficult to verbalize. Words can be inadequate in expressing feelings that are both ever-present yet intangible. It’s easy to say that my problems feel bad, but it’s more difficult to say why they make me feel bad. The use of language enforces a certain logic that may simply not apply to an emotive state, and thus having a real discussion about these problems can feel futile.

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Rachel Carruthers’ “Cold Comfort” and “Dirty Laundry”

The struggle to express ourselves underlies the beauty of our current exhibition, I’m Fine. Each of the seven featured artists navigates the introspective process through their own media: print, sculpture, video, etc. Each work is impressed upon with a vision of the moment, not necessarily elaborating upon the worry and concerns of the artist but rather depicting it. In this way, the inadequacy of words becomes a non-issue, and the language of emotions is more appropriately represented. The artist not only make sense of their personal thoughts, but also make those thoughts public and digestible to a viewing audience.


Though the themes of this show’s works may differ from the viewer’s day-to-day struggles, they commonly embody a cathartic process in which emotions may be explored. Not everyone has to be an artist to participate in self-care, but I’m Fine offers an alternative that hopefully starts the conversation.

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Sussannah Ward’s “Better” series

Written by Christopher Bugtong.


Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Jessica van Brakle

This is the third installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Jessica van Brakle || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Yvette Yu


Jessica van Brakle, Don’t Trifle The Time, Ink, Acrylic, graphite, and cut paper collage on watercolor paper

To start with a little background: where are you from, where did you study as an undergrad, and why M.F.A program at Maryland?

I am actually from this area. Born in Bethesda, MD and grew up mostly in Rockville but also here in College Park since my grandmother lived down the street in University Park. I received my BFA from the Corcoran in 2007 and then worked as a practicing artist up until joining the program here. UMD appealed to me because I liked the idea of staying local and the studios are fairly spacious which really really helps. It’s also a good place to get a lot of teaching experience.


In your MIDPOINT works, you used a combination of collage, ink, and graphite. Do you always like to use these mediums together? How do they convey the meanings of your work in this exhibition, and your art in general?

I’ve always utilized multiple mediums in my work but added collage about 2 years ago. I think it adds another layer of complexity and depth. Varying the materials used helps me build that alternate strange world.


All the works include some elements from the Victorian era: the collage pieces, the framing… How are these elements helping you convey the meanings of your work?

Collage was actually a big thing in Victorian times- you had well to do women with idle time on their hands putting together their family albums, making scrap books and putting all sorts of imagery around and onto their photos. Five pieces in the show are what I call “Portal Portraits”- containing an image of these hybrid creatures that I’ve been creating (literally plants wearing Victorian clothing). I then cut an oval egg shaped hole in another paper and used that as a framing agent for the creatures. This relates to those albums but also to the developments of portraiture and photography during that era. For me the “Portal Portraits” become a time capsule into a future of the past.


Tell us a little bit about your artistic process. Do you plan ahead before you start a painting, or is it more spontaneous?

There is lots of planning beforehand, however it takes the shape of a lot of research, reading, and the writing of notes and ideas. The physical making of a piece might start from knowing I want there to be a mountain shape or a waterfall but each step thereafter is in response to the one before. I enjoy not knowing what a final piece will become.


With the common element of water, your three works: ‘Don’t Trifle the Time’, ‘Arrival of Venus, Salvation,’ and ‘Wholes, Liquidities, Grotesqueries,’ resemble greatly of ancient Chinese ink wash paintings from afar. Why do you choose to have water in all three of the work, and are you making references to the ink wash paintings?

The work I’ve been making in grad school has been primarily inspired by water; its ambiguity and fluidity, where land and water become one. A wellspring of resources, renewal, and of the life-source itself, water also embodies a place of danger, of possible contamination, and unfathomable depths. I’m definitely inspired by Asian Landscapes and their use of ink. Chinese ink wash paintings are often landscapes, mountains and tend to include a water element somewhere. They seek to capture a feeling or essence of something much more than just the representation of a place. My work explores fantastical dream-like spaces so layers of ink makes sense for this. Japanese painting influences can also be seen with the development of a narrative and more complex, crowded scenes.


Your contributions to the MIDPOINT exhibition exude a sense of mystery and fascination. What do you hope visitors take away from looking at your work?

Well, thank you. I actually tend to get bored easily and it’s hard to keep my attention. When I create artwork it’s for myself and I love when I can see or feel something new each time I look at it. If I can at the very least get a viewer to pay attention to the work and want to spend some time with them then I feel pretty good.


How do your pieces interact in conversation with Beki and Hugh’s? Do you think your work complements or questions them?

For MIDPOINT we actually did not pre-plan or make decisions on what we would show together as a group. Interestingly it ended up primarily black and white and everyone in their own way is utilizing hard and soft edges which helped give it a really nice flow.


What inspires you? Are there any other events, concepts, particular artists or art movements not yet mentioned here, that also inspire your work?

Nature mostly- botanical- are always in my artwork. I’m inspired by being outdoors, hiking, exploring. I also love reading science fiction- primarily older stuff and when I have time watching sci-fi movies. I’ve allowed this interest to have a pretty big effect on this body of work.


Can you tell me a little about what you are currently working on? 

Currently I’m working on finishing some more work for a show that opens May 12th at Centerfold Gallery in DC. The new pieces are similar in concept to my show at Stamp and I’m super excited to have an opportunity to show them.


More broadly, do you see your work heading in a particular direction over the remainder of your Masters, or beyond?

I feel fairly rooted in this recent body of work with lots of potential directions within to explore so I’ll continue working and essentially preparing for my thesis show next year.


Jessica van Brakle, In Memoriam – Garden Ghosts I, II, III, Ink, acrylic, graphite, and cut paper collage on watercolor paper


For more information on van Brakle, visit

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit

Call for Artist Submissions

Call for Submissions for FALL 2017/ SPRING 2018

Deadline: June 1, 2017

The Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park, is currently seeking submissions by artists who would like to propose their work—recently completed or forthcoming—for inclusion in fall 2017 or spring 2018 exhibitions. Our location within the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life offers emerging and mid-career artists a singular opportunity to present work in a highly visible context to an engaged campus community. The gallery is invested in providing opportunities for developing and emerging artists and curators to present work that is innovative, that foregrounds process and/or conceptual concerns, and that challenges the community to think critically about the issues it addresses.

This is an open call for artists working individually, as collectives, and/or as one-time collaboratives to submit existing work or propose new projects for consideration by the gallery staff as we plan the 2017-18 exhibition calendar. Work in all media will be considered, including installation, performance, moving image, and audience-participatory projects, but please note that the Stamp Gallery cannot accommodate work that requires hanging heavy objects from the ceiling.

What to Submit

If you are an artist or collective who would like to recommend your work for consideration, please email the following materials to

  • Artist CV/Resume(s)
  • Up to 10 relevant images of your work (JPEG, max 72 dpi) accompanied by an image list with title, date, materials, dimensions in inches, and any relevant specifications for installation or equipment necessary for the presentation of the work. If video or audio recordings or documentation are essential to your proposed body of work, clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with passwords provided as necessary).
  • Artist Statement and a 1-page (max) statement about the specific body of work or project you are proposing for Stamp Gallery consideration. This statement should explain why the work is well-suited to the space, audience, and mission of the Stamp Gallery.
  • Please indicate explicitly whether your proposed project could require the full gallery space for an exhibition period of 6 to 8 weeks and/or whether you would like your work considered by curators as they assemble work for group exhibitions.   

*Digital submission packets only. Please do not submit original art.*   

Submissions should be sent by email to

Questions? Contact or 301-314-8492

About the Stamp Gallery

Located on the first floor of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life at the University of Maryland, College Park, The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, especially the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The Gallery is dedicated to providing meaningful art encounters and experiences for a diverse student body. Through its exhibitions and programming, the Gallery offers outside-of-the-classroom experiential learning opportunities. It functions as a laboratory where emerging artists and curators experiment and work through their ideas. The Gallery’s programming aims to emphasize the importance of process to contemporary artistic practice and to provide a forum for dialogue.

For a list of previous exhibitions held in the Stamp Gallery, click here. A SketchUp model of the Stamp Gallery can be downloaded here, and a floorplan in PDF form is available upon request.  


Call for Curatorial Proposals

Call for Proposals for FALL 2017/ SPRING 2018

Deadline: June 1, 2017

The Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park, is currently seeking exhibition proposals from independent curators or curatorial collectives with a compelling vision who are interested in fostering dialogue with diverse audiences through the work of emerging, contemporary artists in the area. This is an open call for independent curators working in Maryland, DC, and Virginia to submit proposals for an exhibition to be held in fall 2017 or spring 2018. Proposed exhibitions may present work by a single artist or multiple artists, and should seek to present recent artwork that is challenging, academically engaging, and attuned to broad community and social issues. Work in all media is considered, including installations, but please note that the Stamp Gallery cannot accommodate work that requires hanging heavy objects from the ceiling.

The curator(s) associated with the selected proposal will organize an exhibition in the Stamp Gallery to be on view for a six- to eight-week period between October 2017 and March 2018. The exhibition may not include work created by the curator(s). Proposals shortlisted for consideration for the 2017-18 academic year will be contacted by August 2017.

The outside curator(s) contracted by the Stamp Gallery will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the exhibition’s execution, including arrangements with artists, installation and de-installation, written materials and visual resources to be submitted to gallery staff on deadline for the timely creation of promotional materials, and creating/implementing any programs (performances, lectures, tours, etc.) to complement the exhibition. The gallery staff will advise and consult with the outside curator(s) to ensure the exhibition’s success. The gallery will create promotional materials for the exhibition and will provide a staff to aid with installation and de-installation.

About the Stamp Gallery

Located on the first floor of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life at the University of Maryland, College Park, The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, especially the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The Gallery is dedicated to providing meaningful art encounters and experiences for a diverse student body. Through its exhibitions and programming, the Gallery offers outside-of-the-classroom experiential learning opportunities. It functions as a laboratory where emerging artists and curators experiment and work through their ideas. The Gallery’s programming aims to emphasize the importance of process to contemporary artistic practice and to provide a forum for dialogue.

For a list of previous exhibitions held in the Stamp Gallery, click here. A SketchUp model of the Stamp Gallery can be downloaded here, and a PDF of the floorplan is available upon request.  

What to Submit

  1. CV/Resume (3 pages, max) demonstrating the curator(s)’s capacity to execute exhibitions of the proposed scale, institutional context, and complexity.
  2. Proposal. Describe the proposed exhibition, including its potential title and public time frame (Oct-Dec 2017 OR Jan-March 2018), its curatorial concept or themes, the name(s) and websites of artists you plan to include, and a list of all required equipment. Explain how this project is well-suited to the space, audience, and mission of the Stamp Gallery.
  3. Short bios and resumes/CVs for all artists to be included in the exhibition.
  4. Digital documentation of work by the artist(s) you propose to include. Max. 5 images per artist; images should be saved as JPEG files, max 72 dpi. If new work is to be created, include images of past work that adequately represents the artist(s). Video or audio clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with passwords provided as necessary).
  5. (Optional) Suggested programming (artist talks, performances, lectures, panel discussions, etc.) to accompany the exhibition or interpretive areas built into the exhibition layout (in-gallery reading room, communal art-making areas). (Programming and interpretation can also be determined after the acceptance of the proposal.)

Submissions should be sent by email to
Questions? Contact or 301-314-8492

Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Hugh Condrey Bryant

This is the second installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Hugh Condrey Bryant || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Sarah Schurman

Let’s start with some background: where are you from? What brought you to sculpture and the University of Maryland’s MFA program?

I’m originally from Greensboro, NC. I attended school at UNC Greensboro and received a BFA in art with a concentration in design as well as a BFA in theatrical set design. After that I did an internship at Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, MN and ended up staying there for 2 years as the sculpture park manager. I met a lot of artists from all over the world at Franconia, made a lot of connections. It was there that I met Dane Winkler who just recently graduated from the program last year. When I decided that grad school was something I wanted to do I contacted Dane to inquire about Maryland. I was very interested in what they had to offer so I applied. The program is primarily studio centric and focuses heavily on developing artistic practice and the conceptual aspects of one’s work. It was everything I was looking for. The access to studio facilities here is great and the faculty’s accessibility is very helpful. I find it to be an engaging environment that has really helped me come into my own as an artist.

In all three of your MIDPOINT works, you convey a fascination with traditionally “masculine” materials. How do these gendered mediums inform the meaning of your sculptures in this exhibition and your art in general?

Growing up, my father was sort of a jack of all trades. He had a lot of experience in many different fields of trade labor and construction. He was a mason, a carpenter, a metal worker, a crane rigger, and also worked within the field of nuclear power plant construction and maintenance during the late 80s and early 90s. From a young age he taught me many different techniques in masonry, carpentry, and later metal fabrication. He instilled in me a very strong sense of self efficacy and a mentality that I could build or make whatever I wanted. Learning these things from my father created a very strong bond between us. He taught me to appreciate the craftsmanship involved in skilled labor and to enjoy the accomplishment of a job well done. The fascination I have with these materials is very much associated with those early experiences.

My father is also a very loving, caring, and emotionally intelligent individual. So I also learned from him to move through life with grace and love, the importance of being in touch with one’s emotions, and of exercising kindness and compassion with others. I may not have known it at the time, but all of this would have a very profound affect on me later in life in regard to how I view masculinity.  For me being a man is not about physical strength and stoicism as many boys are taught from a young age. I am first and foremost a human being before I am a man. To me that means understanding that there is a  spectrum of ‘gender’ that can inform one’s identity. The designation of gender does not have to define how we behave or who we are as human beings. Masculinity, femininity, and everything outside and inbetween are a great part of human energy.

I associate all of the aforementioned with these materials. I see the traditional link of masculinity to the skilled labor involved with steel and concrete to be an antiquated sentiment. But it is that link that I find so interesting when it comes to applying my views regarding gender to the art I create with those materials. Skill and labor are genderless and the sculptures I produce are part of that belief. I use sculpture as a means to communicate through form and express the emotional aspects of my identity.

Tell us a little bit about your artistic process. Was it drastically different for the three pieces or similar?

Within my process and practice there are two distinctly different and oppositional creative impulses. One is the tendency to control material with a great intention toward the outcome, I generally apply this to steel. The other is to accept that I have no true or absolute control over the material and therefore I must respond to the outcome once I have executed a process. That is the impulse I attribute to the ways in which I cast concrete. The former is a very tedious and time consuming process while the latter is very quick and rooted in intuition. I associate that with the intuitive and with the unconscious to a certain degree, something that is latent and must be awakened or found. I associate the tedious and sometimes overcomplicated tendency in attempting to control the material absolutely to the overly rational parts of my mind. That tendency is obsessive at times and can even become irrational, which is kind of funny to me. I try to find a balance between the two but it doesn’t always work out that way, but I think that tension is what informs the physical tension of my sculptures. Sometimes a piece or even certain parts of a piece take a lot of time to work through, which was the case with A Constantly Persistent Moment (temporal portrait) and Of Ideals & Relics. Sometimes pieces happen at a rapid pace, taking very little time. This was the case with It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neurosis Will Go to Protect Itself, which only took a day to make. What is similar for all three sculptures is that each one is subject to both of these creative impulses to some degree, but I pushed myself to be decisive and intuitive in making and responding to the outcomes of all three.

What concepts inspired your titles: A Constantly Persistent Moment, Of Ideals & Relics, and It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go to Protect Itself?

All are inspired by the fluctuant nature of being. I make, respond, and contemplate.  The concepts I apply to all my work come from a place within my mind that relies on the intuitive and emotional, a place where I am illuminating the unconscious and studying the point at which the internal and external meet. All three sculptures are expressions from that place. Once something is done the title comes to me as I analyze what I’ve created.

All three works, particularly A Constantly Persistent Moment, convey the sense of being suspended in space. Does this choice juxtapose the concrete materials with their fragile positioning?

To an extent, yes. I like playing with tension. Accentuating weight and mass through tension is a process of play that I have always engaged in. The juxtaposition of these can create a interesting dialogue between sculptural forms and engage space more effectively, especially when intervening with the architecture of a space, such as the way that It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go To Protect Itself does with the columns of the gallery.

It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go To Protect Itself seems to be situated in a defensive position. How does the smooth base, guarded by spikes, represent the mind?

The positioning, gesture, and tension represents the unconscious constraints, limitations, and protective tendencies that occur within systems of belief we form in the mind. The title is something a friend of mine said to me one time. We were discussing the cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy that some people exhibit between their behavior/actions, their desires/expectations from others, and the systems of belief they construct. The propensity to say one thing and do another. A product of that is a protective and defensive mechanism that serves primarily to preserve the ego and avoid the pitfalls of guilt and shame. While this unconscious practice can keep the mind free of negativities regarding one’s self perception it can also form a prison built of beliefs that hinders realizations about (and improvements to) the self and the potentials of one’s existence. So… the spikes could perhaps be representative of those mental defenses that surround vulnerability. The cables an expression of the limitations and bonds that those defenses place on the mind; therefore, limiting its ability to experience growth and transformation into higher states of perception regarding how the self affects and is affected by the external world.

Was color a consideration when making Of Ideals & Relics? In what ways does its smooth, touchable texture communicate meaning?

The color is intended to exhibit softness, a kind of sensitivity. The texture coincides with that intention. The meaning I attach to that is there is strength within vulnerability. To acknowledge and accept vulnerability is to be in touch with what one’s inner strength can overcome. When one doesn’t acknowledge vulnerability it can sometimes hold one back from experiencing true and genuine connections with others. To put yourself out there is tough, but it is one way to overcome or rise above the unrealistic societal ideals and expectations that have a hold on us all. Through the material characteristics of texture and color I hope that people are inclined to interact with it, to have a more intimate and tactile experience with it. The smooth and delicate appearance is juxtaposed with the mass of the concrete, the reality that it is concrete… When the realization of what it is made out of occurs the viewer’s perception of what is possible is shaken. In a sense, I wanna drop cosmic eggs of knowledge on people’s heads, blow their minds in regard to material possibilities.

How do your three sculptures interact in conversation with each other and MIDPOINT as a whole? Do you think your work complements or questions Bekí and Jessica’s respective pieces?

With each other… I think they speak to the flexibility and openness of my approach while also communicating the multifaceted nature of the concepts I’m playing with. The mind and one’s internal emotional world are complex places. I like to think that these sculptures ride a line that exhibits both complexity of thought and simplicity of form. I feel there is also a conversation involving a sense of temporality that can be embodied in form. Whether it be a kind of potential for action to occur, a sense of stasis, or even sense of immobility.

I feel that there is a form of aesthetic or maybe visual complement to Bekí and Jessica’s work. There is a bit more visual complexity and intricacies to their work whereas my work utilizes simpler lines and shapes. I feel it may be a middle ground between what they’ve produced.

Your contributions to the MIDPOINT exhibition exude a sense of tension. Through the contradictions you explore, are you commenting on universal human experience or isolated, personal moments?

I think there is a little bit of both. I’m using concepts that work universally or at least incorporate a common thread of consensus in human experience, but I’m also using a lot of my personal perception and experience. So I’d have to say that to some degree I am commenting on both.

What and where are your sources of inspiration? Do your influences extend beyond the art world?

Hmmm… My former professor, Andy Dunnill, was a huge influence on me. He passed away a little over a year ago and that also inspired me in certain ways, especially how I think about making art. It made me realize that what I make my work about should be deeply important to me. Andy’s work and his continued mentorship post-undergrad had a profound affect on me. Even his passing and his memory continue to affect my work. I plan to dedicate the work for my thesis exhibition to him.

My friend Jemila MacEwan has also been a huge inspiration, especially in the expansion of the scope of my work and how I think about it. She is a sort of muse to me in a way. Her friendship and generosity are constantly pushing me to be a better person and artist.

Outside of that I look at the world around me and I read a lot of science fiction. The imagery that my mind creates while reading is a huge inspiration and part of how I envision things I am interested in making. Reading sci-fi has given me a library of mental imagery that I often pull from.

How does teaching and collaborating with other artists shape your artistic vision?

Learning is a constant thing for me. When I teach I am also learning from my students and empathizing with the way they see and perceive the world through art. Collaboration is the same way. I think learning and keeping the mind flexible and plastic is important to responding to what you make and improving upon it. The more perspectives I’m exposed to the more likely I am to maintain a mental plasticity that allows for transformation and growth in my work and artistic vision.

Tell us about any current projects or future endeavors. How has pursuing your Masters impacted the trajectory of your artistic career?

I’m really focused on developing my thesis. I want to start now because I know I’ll need a lot of time to come to a decision about the scope and ambition I want to apply to it, how big I want to make it. I have time though.

Besides thesis I’m going to participate in an arthouse residency this summer in upstate NY. I’ll be building housing+studio space for the artists that come to participate in residencies there. It’s always nice to build or make something that doesn’t have to do with my thesis work so that will be a nice distraction.

As for my Masters and how that has impacted my trajectory… I know now for certain that I want to teach. That gives me a lot of direction as to what my next steps might be and where they may lead me. I think teaching will also provide me with a means to keep pursuing my own work. If I can teach and still make art then I’m set. The future has a way of not conforming to expectations though so I try not to think too far ahead. Helps me a avoid unnecessary disappointment.

What do you hope visitors take away from MIDPOINT 2017?

I hope my work provokes inquiry and makes them ask questions. I like to ask questions or provoke people to ask their own. I’m not really interested in the answers though. As long as the work sticks in the viewer’s mind for awhile and causes them to contemplate possibilities. That’s the best I can hope for.

Bryant’s work is included in MIDPOINT 2017 in The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from March 29 through May 22, 2017

For more information on Bryant, visit

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit

Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Bekí Basch

PRINT_03_28X34_from Reaper series

Beki Basch, from Reaper, black and white copy shop prints

This is the first installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Bekí Basch || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Grace DeWitt

To start with a little background, where are you from, and where did you study as an undergrad?

I’m originally from New Jersey, and I moved to Baltimore to study at MICA for undergrad.

What brought you to the arts in your undergrad career, and why the M.F.A. program at Maryland?

I started taking an interest to arts when I was about 15-16. From that point on there wasn’t a question as to what I would study in school, so what brought me there was just a sense of knowing that’s exactly what I wanted. I point this out specifically because after undergrad, I felt weirdly bruised, and after one large-ish project, I pretty much stopped making art for several years. My newfound drive to make work comes from healing those bruises and regaining that same high school-like sense of purpose to be an artist. The M.F.A. program at Maryland (in particular) was chosen for purely practical reasons. I didn’t apply anywhere else.

Having seen your previous work, can you share a little bit about the automobiles and puffins as a source of inspiration?

My work always draws from disparate sources, but the impetus is the same and it all comes from me. Puffins comes from back when I was 16 and writing a sort of myth about an island where puffins lived and floated around in balloons. They were these symbolic perfect creatures and in my story when two birds were in love, their bodies and the balloons would join together in a sort of reverse mitosis. Puffins have grown with me and I am always finding new ways in which their existence in my work makes sense. Automobiles came into play once I started formulating a narrative for a project in which the car represented my husband. It was going to be a video of him transporting a flag up a hill during a hill climb. I have since gone in a different direction with it, but ultimately cars are so multi-faceted and ubiquitous; there will likely always be inspiration there.

Moving into your MIDPOINT 2017 pieces, do you feel that the significance of either of these objects, or any others, has changed for you over the course of your MFA?

I think when you make work, you can never consider everything at play. Even the simplest pieces reveal truths over time that you didn’t ‘plan’ for. Right now, I am really enjoying the piece NEVER LET ME GO and in taking time to appreciate it, I am able to consider if I would do something similar again and how. For example, sometimes you think something is about your love for someone else, but then realize the duality is more within yourself.

Can you describe your physical and mental process in creating Reaper, and perhaps share some insight about the items used in the piece? (The hot dog has gotten some particular attention in the Gallery).

My mental process is connected to the physical process in that creating these photos was a highly intuitive process. I tend to plan a lot and I wanted to take this opportunity to present something a bit less planned and a bit more vulnerable. There is an artist I really love who works a lot with natural history and the combination of natural materials with man-made, especially contrasting contemporary imagery. I think she was in mind when I was dreaming these up. I had a lot of material in my studio that I had used or planned to use for one thing or another and I thought of combining them in a physical 3-dimensional way; to just take an overhead black and white shot would yield interesting and effective results. The images are edited slightly, but mostly to create that shrink wrap/wet effect and to boost the contrast, and place more focus on the center of each rather than any background.

Can you speak about the choice in materials for Reaper?

There are a lot of odds and ends in my studio and it’s nice to have an opportunity to use many of them without getting too focused on their structural capabilities or any other properties. Simply composing objects and snapping a photo is a really liberating process, since I usually plan a lot and don’t often make something quick the central focus of a piece.

How about your process in creating Core Samples?

These pieces were concrete cast into trash bags into a long box each. Then I added objects and resin interchangeably to make some sunken treasures.

Never Let Me Go is currently located in the Tawes fountains. What led you to this installation decision?

I had created two concrete pieces last year that I put in the fountain for a couple of hours and took some photos and made a little photo book out of them. The book was a linear transition of photos that showed the pieces clear through the water but with their hard edges made wavy by the ripples, and then slowly progressing to images where the pieces are totally obscured by harsher waves in the water.

You’ve mentioned that your practice is project-based. Working in this way, do you ever struggle to know when you’re “done” with a project?

The short answer is yes. Before I came to UMD I was struggling a lot with never having deadlines. I was working on a project and yet watching the world sweep past me, wave by wave by wave. My sense of time was, and maybe still is, by nature, super slow. If there was nobody around and nothing to do, I would be happy just napping in a field all day. That being said, I now recognize the advantage of having deadlines and I use those to ‘know’ when a project is ‘done’ but that’s just for whatever needs to be ‘done’ at that time. I think you let the idea work itself out and then you work with it and then leave it alone, but I don’t feel like I will ever have it all figured out, and especially not by any deadline, so I just do the best I can by the time something needs to be done, and then one day, I figure something else out and work on it more, or just feel pleased by that.

Are there any other events, concepts, particular artists or art movements not yet mentioned here, that also inspire your work?

Everything. Not even sure I could list them. I see little bits of every source in everything I do. The artist I was mentioning before though is Camille Henrot. I am not particularly inspired by other artists though − it feels a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am of course inspired by them, but not much more than everything else out there − comedy, nature, music, mythology…

You wrote a really beautiful statement for MIDPOINT 2017, which you read at the opening reception. Without putting any words in your mouth, do you feel that that such an interaction with your audience was helpful to you, or essential to exhibiting such vulnerable work − if I may call it − as that in MIDPOINT?

We were required to have a little artist talk, but the last time I did something like that, I really screwed it up, and I was working with a friend and I really screwed it up for her too. Unfortunately, I still live so much inside my head that it’s still rather difficult for me to say what I want. I am also generally in disbelief that anyone would really want to listen. Writing a statement and reading it aloud is a bit of a cheat, but I figured since this is a learning environment, it could be a good lesson for myself to try to bridge the gap between thinking-writing-speaking.

When someone walks into MIDPOINT, what do you hope that person will grasp about your work?

If there is anything, I hope it would only be that they take a minute. Putting anything in a gallery is a signal for you to take a minute. It’s important to do that anyway and just appreciate the formal and conceptual elements of everything around you, but I have specifically composed this work out of the things around me and put them in the gallery because I cared to do so. If you come in and take a minute and try to find your own entry point, you might connect with the work. But it’s okay if you don’t.

Can you tell me a little about your upcoming show at Current Space, or what you’re currently working on?

My show at Current Space is a deadline for the project I couldn’t finish before I came to school. I am mostly working on that right now. I am also slowly planning for a project in Iceland this summer where I have a one month residency coming up. It’s funny but the Current Space show has a car sculpture in it and the piece in Iceland will largely be about puffins. I swear these are not my only interests.

You’ve also mentioned to me about an up-coming expedition to Iceland you’ll be going on to work with live puffins, can you explain some more about that opportunity? Do you have any insight about how it will impact your work?

Yeah, this has been a long time coming. Like I said, the puffin thing started a long time ago for me. I don’t know why I liked them at first, to be honest, but when I learned they were Iceland’s national bird, things started to fall into place a bit more. In some ways, I expect it will be incredibly anti-climactic. You just can’t engineer these things. I have been on this side-quest to see puffins in the wild for years. I’m not an active birder or anything, I just find myself in places where puffins live, over and over and over again and never see them. You could call that fate, but who knows really. There is almost no way this upcoming trip could live up that − but I feel myself going to this happy place where I can keep myself open to beautiful experience. For example, last August I went to Maine and went on a puffin watching boat and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Nobody could have planned it, but the water, the fog, everything, was silver and still and surreal. I think I romanticize certain things and then when I am in their presence I am reminded to be extra conscious of the beauty and symbolism present in everything.

More broadly, do you see your work heading in a particular direction over the remainder of your Masters, or beyond?

Sure. I have some sense of the future, but I think it’s mostly to keep myself going. Like I said, I have a problem with momentum. I just get too existential about things. I would love to keep working so I get more and more practice and I keep growing. Before I could see that I wasn’t growing much or being challenged for a long time. In some ways my lifetime goal might just be to write an artist statement that makes sense, but then again who really cares.

Lastly, any advice for undergraduate artists? Anything you would tell your younger self as you entered the arts?

Yes, of course. I am still very much that self, or at least I try to maintain it. I don’t understand this thing where art is a game you play, like some petty argument. It’s too earthly. The best thing you can do is shake off all the rules you know and start from square one every time. I think art needs to be a fulfilling, spiritual practice, and you just need to let it lead you places sometimes. I think art is an expression of the divine within, and surely everyone has that.

Basch’s work is included in MIDPOINT 2017 in The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from March 29 through May 22, 2017.

For more information on Basch, visit

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit

Call For Artists


Application Deadline *EXTENDED* | April 3, 2017  New deadline: April 14, 2017 


Notification Date | Mid-April 2017 Late April / Early May


Exhibition Dates | June 5–July 28, 2017




Fueled by an interest in the notion of art as a means of catharsis, the organizing curators seek artists whose work figures into a narrative about personality, process, and release. Whether art-making amplifies emotions or mitigates them, all creative endeavors echo one step in the process of self-exploration. We invite works in all media that examine, highlight, or challenge the relationship between art and the fluid mind, perhaps by contemplating creativity as a means of therapy. We aim to cultivate a generative and introspective exhibition space that encourages visitors to reflect. The curators are intrigued with the following questions: How does the practice of making art participate in (or disrupt) the process of personal development? Can art adequately translate the variable ways conceptions of “self” operate? How does creativity alleviate or intensify emotion? In what ways does art comment on–and participate in–mental health and self-care? To what extent is art a mouthpiece for the mind in flux or an independent and evolving entity?


The curators will select a small group of artists whose work they feel critically and creatively engages the exhibition concept outlined above to show their work at the Stamp Gallery, a contemporary art space located in the University of Maryland-College Park’s Adele H. Stamp Student Union–Center for Campus Life. Any existing works must have been completed within the last 2 years to be considered. Undergraduate artists are strongly encouraged to apply.


This exhibition is the Stamp Gallery’s annual undergraduate-curated show. Previous exhibitions in the series include:

Paradise Now : A game of unequal circumstances and varying objectives by Baltimore-based artist Kimi Hanauer, featuring collaborations with Sydney Spann, Michael Stephens, and Nikki Lee, curated by Christopher Bugtong (Computer Science and Film Studies ’17), Grace DeWitt (Animal Science and Studio Art ’17), and Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)

In Response: An exhibition showcasing the artwork of University of Maryland undergraduate students inspired by contemporary artists featured in the Contemporary Art Purchasing Program of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, curated by Genesis Henriquez (Graphic Design ’16), Korey Richardson (Studio Art ’16), Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)

Magnified : An exhibition of work by artists Chip Irvine, Michael Sylvan Robinson, curated by Carmen Dodl (Geographical Sciences ’16), Geena Gao (Information Systems and Economics ’16, and Martine Gaetan (Romance Languages ’15)



We are looking for artwork in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation, video, and performance.

We also welcome proposals for creative or interactive projects inspired by the exhibition concept from individuals or groups working in other fields such as music, film, and poetry.




Tasiana Paolisso, B.S. Architecture 2018

Inspired by her mother’s creativity and artistry, Tasi is a junior architecture student who aspires to design museums and galleries. Her commitment to the creative world is evident in her performing arts position at The Clarice and her docent experience at the Stamp Gallery.


Sarah Schurman, B.A. English 2017

Driven by artistic curiosity, Sarah joined the Stamp Gallery team to facilitate creative engagement on campus and explore endless perspectives. She finds both catharsis and motivation through her studies and extracurriculars, particularly her education/literature coursework, executive board membership on The Vagina Monologues, and her time spent working with kids.




Applicants must submit :

  • Artist’s Statement about specific works being submitted
  • Link to artist’s website (if applicable)
  • Proposed works with title and short description (up to 200 words), year of production, and medium)
  • Digital documentation of work
    • 5-10 images/files (JPEG 72 dpi)
    • video/audio clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with password information as necessary)


Artists are responsible for delivering finished work to the Stamp Gallery by May 30, 2017 and for picking up their work from the Stamp Gallery no earlier than the close of the exhibition on July 28, 2017 and no later than August 4, 2017.




The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery supports contemporary art that is challenging and/or academically engaging and that addresses broad community and social issues. The gallery serves by providing exhibitions of social responsibility and artistic substance, as well as by offering an educational forum in which dialogue between artist and viewer and art and community is encouraged.


The Stamp Gallery is located on the first floor of the Stamp Student Union (1220 Stamp Student Union, The Adele H. Stamp Student Union – Center for Campus Life, University of Maryland College Park, 20742). 301-314-8492,
Summer Hours: Monday–Friday: 11 am until 6 pm