2021 MFA Studio Art Exhibition

Tideland Studio Art MFA exhibition

About the Exhibition

Sour Milk features the work of  Shelby Charlesworth, Joseph Caster, Rachel Dickson, Paul Michael, and Magdalena Pawlowski, graduating Studio Art Master of Fine Arts students at the University of Connecticut.

Transforming from its initial state, sour milk can materialize from a forgotten carton; tart, pungent, fermenting. Entropy and rot permeates but the velvety liquid becomes new, regaining agency, proving to be resilient. This exhibition considers what has soured, creating potential for positive change or harmful destruction. Consisting of works by Joseph Caster, Shelby Charlesworth, Rachel Dickson, Paul Michael, and Magdalena Pawlowski, each of these five artists embrace change to nurture growth.

Download the exhibition catalog here.

Watch the recorded MFA artist talks here

Artwork by Joseph Caster

Joseph Caster

Absent Hand (detail). 2020-2021, 21000 Porcelain Buttons

Shelby Charlesworth

Preview of Rachel Dickson's artwork

Rachel Dickson

Artwork by Paul Michael

Paul Michael

Artwork by Magdalena Pawlowski

Magdalena Pawlowski

Faculty Note

Graduating during the time of COVID-19, the class of 2021 has encountered challenges never before imagined. Last year’s class bravely pivoted mid-spring while this year’s class continued facing a year of uncertainty. Blocked from their studios for months, they encountered and mastered alternate means of instruction, conception, production, and fabrication, always adjusting on the fly, driven by their will to create. This exhibition raised questions previously not encountered. What can be safely displayed in a museum when social distancing is a reality? What kinds of work look best online? Will the show in New York happen? The list of unknown variables and changes required for health and safety measures has been long for our MFA class of 2021, yet they have persevered assisted by faculty and the Benton Museum of Art staff.

Their graduation is at hand, and we celebrate their accomplishments. They challenged themselves, creating new work in unexpected ways that reflect their insights and development over the past three years. Their creative work asks questions and then asks more questions. Their art is visual poetry that will continue to grow and develop after graduate school. And one day, we hope they will look back on this time as the beginning of many meaningful experiences in their lives.

Joseph Caster, Shelby Charlesworth, Rachel Dickson, Paul Michael, and Magdalena Pawlowski faced more hurdles than any of us could have imagined. However, their spirits have been resilient, and we thank them for helping us all find a way to carry on and offer our sincere congratulations as they step into their new worlds.


Janet Pritchard
Professor of Photography, MFA Project Seminar

Judith Thorpe
Professor of Photography, MFA Program Director