Exhibitions Archive


Lift Off

Installation View, infra-ordinary, Root Division. Photo: Alana Rios © artists retain copyright, Spring 2021


Lift Off Information and Archive

As a component of their degree, MFA Candidates at San Jose State University mount two exhibits housed within one of six University Galleries; one exhibition in their second year of study and a culminating Thesis Exhibition at the end of their third year.   In addition to their Solo Thesis  Exhibition, MFA Candidates have the option of participating in a group exhibition hosted off-site & pairing with an MA Candidate in Art History and Visual Culture to create an entry in the annual, Lift-off Catalogue.  Past MFA exhibitions have been installed at Root Division (SF), Incline Gallery (SF), Pro Arts (Oakland), and the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. Recent Curatorial advisors for the exhibition include Chris Gurnder & Cléa Massiani (Co-Directors of Bass & Rainer, SF), Kevin Chen (Independent Curator), and in this iteration, Marcella Faustini (co-Director of CLOACA Projects, SF).

At the beginning of their final year at San José State, MFA students in art practice join with MA students in art history to negotiate that strange territory between theoria (thinking), poiesis (making), and praxis (doing). Both groups of students find their own voices through one another’s practices. The essays within these catalogs reflect this temporally determined pairing: the graduate students in art history write about the work of the fine arts students. The visual artists and art historians come together and  produce text, image, and object on their own terms; without assignment. Every year in the Spring,  the results of this collaborative endeavor  result in the publication of  the Lift Off catalogue.  

Art students at San José State join a legacy of thinkers, activists, and innovators dedicated to the public good. They test ideas through experimentation in the university’s robust fabrication studios, which support the technical components of artistic production in ceramics, digital media, metals, glass, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. Individual studios create space for deep thinking and artistic creation; adjacent communal work areas engender peer-to-peer dialogue and foster innovation and intellectual rigor. 

Students combine their in-class experiences, faculty mentorship, independent research, and individual studio practices to produce these exhibitions. The transformations that occur through interdisciplinary dialogue and pedagogical stewardship are nowhere more evident than in these markers of educational maturation.  

The culminating group exhibit and accompanying catalog, produced at the end of students’ final year of study, reveal the synergies that emerge from the diversity of learning practices. The artworks speak to critical issues far beyond the University grounds;  that inevitably direct graduates' thinking, making, and far beyond their time at San Jose State University.
Rhonda Holberton
Assistant Professor, Digital Media Arts 
Associate Chair, Department of Art & Art History
San Jose State University | College of Humanities and the Arts
The archive can be accessed here.

BFA Thesis Exhibitions Archive



Natalie and James Thompson Gallery Archive

Thompson Gallery

A Closer Look: Prints from the Permanent Collection, August 29- October 3, 2023


For a list of past exhibitions, visit the Natalie and James Thompson Gallery's Exhibitions Archive Page.