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2021 MFA thesis exhibitions explore loss and grief, self-reflection


Graduate students Lacey Minor and Sarah Phillips will present their master's degree thesis exhibitions this month at JMU’s Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art. A master of fine arts exhibition is a significant achievement that capstones the three years of artistic practice and individual inquiry required to earn the MFA degree at JMU. 

In Roots of Icarus, Minor employs potatoes as a metaphor for drug addiction, using their lifecycle to produce photographic prints. As she grows potatoes in vases, Minor notes that to live, a potato must be buried. Minor says, “Using the potato as a symbol of the addicted body, my work is commentary on the magnitude of the opium epidemic and reflection on the grief and guilt that comes with loving/losing someone to addiction.” 

Sarah Phillips’ exhibition, "And All the Things that Grew on the Ground," involves self-exploration through personal memoirs, poetry and history. Investigating personal as well as cultural and religious rituals, Phillips’ work is performative and gestural. Washing, cleansing and other habitual actions are recurring themes in the work. “This work is about memory, preservation and dissonance,” says Phillips. 

The exhibition will be online and in person at the gallery, April 20-May 8. There will also be an artist talk at 6 p.m. Monday, April 19. After May 1, visitors will need to make an appointment to view the exhibition. 

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Contact Beth Hinderliter, director of the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, at (540) 568-6407 or for more information or to schedule a group visit. 

Gallery information:

The gallery is free to all guests. Please contact the gallery for groups larger than 25. Visit for location, hours and parking information. 

Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art’s mission is to present the highest level of fine art experiences and to create an active space for robust discourse of vital issues facing our society. It is a space where the local and academic community share ideas about contemporary art and our wider

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Published: Friday, April 16, 2021

Last Updated: Friday, April 16, 2021

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