MFA Thesis Exhibitions 2019

The School of Art at Montana State University and the Helen E. Copeland Gallery announce five upcoming thesis exhibitions and public defenses for candidates of the Masters of Fine Arts for 2019.  Beginning Monday, March 4th through Friday, April 12th, 2019 five MFA candidates will each have a week-long exhibition, a public defense of their thesis, and a public reception.  All public defenses will occur on the Monday of each week at 11 am, and the public receptions will occur on Thursdays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm in the Helen E. Copeland Gallery.


The MFA Candidates are: Matt Levy, Megan Sprenger, Alyssa Willard, Victoria Burchill, and Jon Bashioum in that order.  The MFA Thesis exhibition and defense is the culmination of three years of intense studio and conceptual research, where the candidates will have their work vigorously challenged and questioned by their professors and peers.   The awarding of the MFA certificate is not yet guaranteed and these events represent the final examination of their studies and labors.


The candidates, their dates, and a brief teaser of their work follows:

The Material Verse: Matt Levy
Exhibition:  Monday, March 4th – Friday, March 8th
Public Defense: Monday, March 4th at 11:00 am
Reception:  Thursday, March 7th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

The Material Verse explores the role of materiality through the use of indigenous Montana clays and rocks. The culmination of Levy’s research into sourcing local materials, his sculptural works, and his clay panels seek to invoke the essence of the Montana landscapes and bring agency to these natural resources. The areas surrounding Western Montana are filled with a deep and rich history of mining and stewardship, where the resources of the earth were harnessed under the promise of progress and advancement.

More information about Matthew Levy’s practices and ceramic works can be found on his personal website:

Ontogenesis: Megan Sprenger
Exhibition:  Monday, March 11th – Friday, March 15th
Public Defense:  Monday, March 11th at 11:00 am
Reception:  Thursday, March 14th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Ontogenesis is a body of work comprised of sculptural objects and drawings that allude to architectural spaces as a mirrored and collective subconscious communication within the human growth. This development is both an internal and external growth of humans as they are shaped by the spaces they live and breathe. Sprenger’s interest in phenomena of space stems from the idea of independence as well as mutual development of both the city and the self. Ultimately, she views this development of humans in comparison to the city as being a sotto biological organism rather than a cog in a machine. . For more information on Sprenger and her portfolio please visit:


Perceptual Interference: Alyssa Willard
Exhibition:  Monday, March 25th – Friday, March 29th
Public Defense: Monday, March 25th at 11:00 am
Reception:  Thursday, March 28th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

While collaborating with Montana State Universities Physics Department, Willard has created various works that are a response to current research on the sun and works that examine the interlocking pieces of the fundamental interactions of reality – that is: Electromagnetism, gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces.


Second Skin: Victoria Burchill
Exhibition:  Monday, April 1st – Friday, April 5th
Public Defense:    Monday, April 1st at 11 am
Reception:  Thursday, April 4th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Second Skin refers to the body’s exterior adornments that contribute to an individual’s identity. Genetics are no longer a deciding factor in beauty, rather the second skin can revolutionize one’s appearance. Each individual has full control over their second skin, and therefore, appearance can impede people’s ability to connect with each other because differences are made visible. For more information on Burchill and her work, please visit


Beyond the White Cube: Jon Bashioum
Exhibition:  Monday, April 8th – Friday, April 12th
Public Defense: Monday, April 8th at 11:00 am
Reception:  Thursday, April 11th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Beyond the White Cube will feature functional and sculptural ceramic vessels that explore the place of art in the gallery and in our everyday lives. Works shown in both the Helen E. Copeland Gallery and the Beyond Gallery explore the juxtaposition of standard white-cube gallery practices versus alternative display strategies.  Bashioum’s thesis questions the appropriateness of the white cube as the standard by which we experience art and propose that, at times, alternative spaces may be a more effective way to exhibit and discuss art. Online information about Bashioum and the Beyond Gallery can be found online at,,



The Helen E. Copeland Gallery is located on the second floor of Haynes Hall, across from Aasheim Gate off of 11th, with the outdoor sculptural Ski Swing out front. Please note that parking passes are required for parking during the business day (6am – 6pm). Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm/ closed on weekends.


For more information on this exhibit or on the Helen E. Copeland Gallery in general, please visit or follow us on Facebook  or Instagram under helen.e.copeland .