NMSU to present first “digital” MFA student thesis exhibition

The New Mexico State University Art Museum will present “Raphael Benero: 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition,” featuring the work of master of fine arts candidate Raphael Benero.

Benero’s exhibition invites viewers to engage in sculptures that replicate childhood objects as he navigates being part of two cultures as a Mexican-American.

The digital exhibition will open on May 8. Benero is expected to graduate with his Master of Fine Arts degree on May 16.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Benero’s exhibition was unexpectedly moved online. Although he is disappointed he will miss out on the experience of hosting an in-person show, Benero is optimistic about what the digital exhibition means for his work.

“Just like every other platform there are pros and cons,” Benero said. “The main pro for me is now my work will be able to reach a wider audience. The biggest con was since my work is going to be online, we miss out on the ambiance of the show.”

Benero grew up along the border in El Paso. He became aware of the unbalanced cultural and class dynamics at a very early age. While most of his friends played with expensive toys, he was left to his own creations.

Benero uses accessible materials, such as cardboard, stucco tape, steel and plywood in his work to elevate commonly used household objects to “art status” by making a genuine gesture of authorship that is not implied through mass-produced toys sold at retail stores.

“Raphael Benero explores the intersections of class, gender, and ethnicity through the lens of children’s toys. At one level, Benero’s work is deeply autobiographical, investigating his ambivalence for the nostalgia and desire these toys provoke as objects produced by a capitalist system invested in the production of that desire,” said Margaret Goehring, associate professor of art history.

“At another level, they point to the stereotypes that are imposed by this system, reifying lived experience into a facsimile of identity,” Goehring said. “Trained within an academic tradition that is in itself rooted in a European modernist context that both designates and transmits the ‘canon’ of art, Benero displays a pessimism about his position within that canonical system.”

Benero’s exhibit opens on May 8. For more information about this and other upcoming events, click here.

Author: Amanda Adame – NMSU


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