Fine art in Chico, made in Germany


Different variations of “I miss you” in Croatian. Photo credit: Daniel Theobald

Visitors had a lot to talk about when they came to the Master of Fine Arts Gallery, which opened on Aug. 29. All artworks exhibited were created by Chico State graduate students. Among them were Iva Marija Proschniewski and Julia Lara Gerke, two exchange students from Germany.

Iva Marija Proschniewski, 23, shows a performance at the MFA Gallery. Photo credit: Daniel Theobald

Iva Marija Proschniewski, 23, likes to focus on her work with sculptures.

What does art mean to you?

“I think that art gives me the possibility to express myself in a way that words could never do. And that’s my opinion in general art would be sort of meaningless if you could describe things or express yourself otherwise.”

Any differences between exhibiting in the United States and Germany?

“In Germany students might have a little bit more freedom. Here in America, the exhibitions are more like galleries whereas in Germany we have a lot more interactive stuff. To put it differently, in Germany, the focus is more on the art itself and not the way it is presented. For instance, we don’t have any flashing lights or anything to present or stage the artwork – here everything is a little bit fancier.”

Did you encounter any difficulties or obstacles during this process?

“Yes, personally I did! As I already mentioned I work sculpturally for the most part. However, I couldn’t bring anything with me all the way from Germany, obviously, which is why I had to improvise a little bit. Therefore, I came up with the idea of showing a video of one of my former performances.”

Julia Gerke, 23, exhibits a letterpress print. Photo credit: Daniel Theobald

Julia Lara Gerke, 23, exhibiting a print as well as an installation.

What fascinates you about art?

“I really enjoy the artistic process you go through. Sometimes it’s a demand or a desire to work with different materials and sometimes you just deal with various contents that you are interested in. Furthermore, I specifically like to work with everyday objects or just random objects and put them into an artistic context or a composition to eventually create aesthetics about life and our environment. I guess that’s what intrigues me the most about art.”

Your impression of the MFA Gallery?

“It’s pretty traditional I’d say meaning that there is essentially a room where everything is presented more or less equally or in a very similar way. Overall, there is less room for extraordinary or unusual stuff. Still, I really like the artwork and the diverse way people deal with art, how they conceptualize it and use different materials to show whatever they want to express. That’s really interesting.”

How would you compare the exhibitions in Germany and the United States?

“It’s pretty much the same essentially, however, in Germany we might be a little bit more open for experiments and we are always eager to explore unusual things meaning that the process itself is very important and we put great emphasis on the presentation – sometimes we have crazy room concepts or something like that. Maybe that’s because I had a lot of student-organized exhibitions in Germany; here in contrast it’s much more official event.”

The weirdest question you’ve ever been asked about your art?

“In this exhibition particularly, the weirdest question was ‘Oh, this is also part of the exhibition?’ This is because I exhibited a constellation of everyday objects I borrowed from different people here in Chico. And that’s exactly what it is all about; borrowing things from strangers in order to get in touch with people. At the time I set up this installation I obviously didn’t know anybody at all here in Chico so basically it was a nice way of communicating and connecting with people.”

Daniel Theobald can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.