Patrick Martin

A program finds its resolution

The last class of OCAC's MFA in Craft exhibits thesis work at Upfor


This past February, when studio visits were still viable, I spent several hours with the last class of students to graduate from the Oregon College of Art and Craft’s MFA in Craft program. Seeing their work, I was impressed by their deeply centered, introspective thesis projects, all very different, but with a common thread of self-reflection. I wrote in a note that it was quiet work for unquiet times, and I was looking forward to what I anticipated would be a coherent, cohesive exhibition of their work at Upfor in April. Then, in March, galleries around Portland closed due to COVID-19 and the thesis exhibition was cancelled. At the end of May, Upfor itself closed, as its owner, Theo LeGuin, had been planning since early this year.

It was not the culmination that Karl Burkheimer, the program chair, had hoped for for his students. “This ending was such not an ending and can be equated to reading a good book and not wanting to get to the end or watching a good movie and not wanting it to be over,” he said when we spoke in May.