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 Volume 14, Issue 62  |  August 5, 2022


LCAD MFA’s graduation gift: Dedicated show at LAM features multiple works by talented students 

By THERESA KEEGAN 

This story is a part of our Arts section. Visit www.stunewslaguna.com/arts for more arts stories as well as our arts calendars.

The careers for students concluding the MFA program at Laguna College of Art + Design were spectacularly launched on graduation day and not just because they earned degrees. It was also opening day for a show featuring their work at the Laguna Art Museum. 

“It was pretty amazing,” graduate Mike Lee said of the two events happening in one day. “It’s an awesome space and there were a ton of people there.” 

The show, Outlook/Insight The LCAD Effect will be at the Laguna Art Museum though Sunday, Aug. 21. Traditionally, the MFA show is held at the school’s gallery on Ocean Avenue, or in the lower level of LAM. This year’s show, on the main floor, is an impressive display of the depth of the MFA program and the artists who achieve this higher-level degree. 

LCAD MFAs group

 Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Laguna College of Art + Design 

The graduates of LCAD’s MFA program have a show of their work on display at the Laguna Art Museum. The show opened on their graduation day. Participating students are (L-R) Mason Williams, Ramon Vargas, Jill Maytorena, Peter Clarke, Mike Lee, Kelley Mogilka and LinHui Ding.

“I don’t know of any other program where the graduate thesis is held in a major museum,” said Peter Zokosky, chair of LCAD’s MFA program. “As fate would have it, there’s a great art school and a great museum in Laguna Beach.”

“This (show) definitely boosts my confidence,” said graduate Kelley Mogilka. “Having this show up all summer – in the tourist season – and having that on your resume, makes it feels like you’re being launched into the art world. It’s a great send off after the school program.”

The class of 2022 has achieved many milestones, including being the first class to start their program fully online. 

“I thought it would be a pale imitation of art school,” said Zokosky who believes seeing artwork up close and in person is critical to learning. “But for this particular group of students, it worked beautifully. There’s something about the personality of these students. The pandemic didn’t paralyze them.” 

Indeed, for many of the students, the lockdown presented an opportunity to pursue their advanced degrees. 

LCAD MFAs Clarke Water

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Courtesy of Peter Clarke

Artist Peter Clarke’s piece “Water,” displays his skill in his chosen medium of painting in oil on canvas board 

“I always thought about getting my masters and I thought it would be a good time with the lock down,” said Peter Clarke of Massachusetts. 

“I don’t know what else I would have done during that (lockdown) time,” said Mogilka, who specializes in oil on panels of either wood or aluminum. She and her fiancé, Mason Williams, had toured LCAD prior to the pandemic. “We didn’t know what to do with ourselves during the pandemic,” said Williams. Their love of Laguna Beach clinched the decision to attend the school’s graduate program. Each is happy with the decision. 

LCAD MFAs Williams

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Courtesy of Mason Williams

Mason Williams loves the freedom found in plein air painting. With landscapes as a favorite subject, he finds beauty documenting nature. 

“I didn’t understand how painting was work,” explained Williams. “Now I learned more of the business side of it.” As a plein air painter specializing in landscapes, he said it’s an “honest decision” to create paintings that will sell.

LCAD MFAs Mogilka A Way Out

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Courtesy of Kelley Mogilka

Kelley Mogilka’s oil on panel “A Way Out” is part of the current exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum

Mogilka, who recently received the Emerging Artist Award from the Pence Gallery in Davis and will have a solo show there next January, credits the program with supporting her achievements. 

“With the MFA you’re pushed to achieve excellence,” she said. 

LCAD MFAs Maytorena

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Courtesy of Jill Maytorena

“Presence and Pattern,” a mixed media on panel, was created by Jill Maytorena and is featured at the exhibit “Outlook/Insight” 

For Jill Maytorena, LCAD was a natural extension of her artistic life. She’d attended undergrad school there and had spent years working as a graphic artist and teaching high school art. When time allowed, she’d do her own work in patterns, decoration and collage.

“The cream of my creativity was going to my students,” she said. “It took a while to give myself permission to do what I wanted to do.” Maytorena anticipates a new intentionality in her work, especially since she won’t be in a supportive academic studio environment. But with a solo show in Texas next month and a piece recently purchased by the Hilbert Museum of California Art, she is energized to succeed. 

“It feels like a natural progression to continue to work with other artists to meet and continue with the practice,” she said. 

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Clarke, now back on the East Coast, awakes every day and paints with oils, his chosen medium.

“It’s about my journey with painting and continuing on that path,” he said of his art. “I generate my own images based on feelings, thoughts and impressions. This is my life, being able to communicate what I see and the experiences I have is what defines my art.” 

LCAD MFAs Ding

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Courtesy of LinHue Ding

While at LCAD, artist LinHue Ding pondered her work as a fine artist, as shown in the piece above, as well as her role as a digital artist 

For LinHue Ding, a digital artist based in Aliso Viejo, her education at LCAD exceeded what was discovered at the easel. 

“It was an opportunity and it was a therapy session,” she said of earning her MFA. Ultimately, she realized a combination of both commercial and fine art would be fulfilling. 

“I feel like commercial art sometimes drains me,” Ding said. “But with fine art, I can still grow as an artist.” 

LCAD MFAs Lee In the City of Dreams

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Courtesy of Mike Lee 

Artist Mike Lee is able to tell his own story in oil paintings, including the above “In the City of Dreams” 

It’s a balancing act struggle that Lee, who works as an illustrator and went to school part time while working, personally knows.

“I really love oil painting because I can tell my own story,” he said.  “Illustration is a pretty stressful field and I don’t get to express myself – I’m a small part of a big machine.” 

With an MFA he hopes to bring more balance into his life with other career opportunities. “I want to teach and paint at the same time.”

Zokosky, who has been chair of the MFA program for eight years, understands the challenges – and opportunities – in the MFA program. 

“It’s our responsibility, if you guide someone to a life in the arts, that a career in the arts has to be addressed. If you go to dental school, there’s a pathway in your career. With artists it’s trickier.” 

He credits LCAD’s success rate of graduates continuing in the arts – in fact some people involved with the show at LAM are LCAD graduates and students. 

“One thing I try and emphasize,” said Zokosky “is that with all the creativity that goes into making your art, you need to be equally creative in making a career in the arts.” 

The show, Outlook/Insight The LCAD Effect will be on display through Sunday, Aug. 21. For more information, click here. 

For more information on the MFA program at Laguna College of Art + Design, click here

This story is a part of our Arts section. Visit www.stunewslaguna.com/arts for more arts stories as well as our arts calendars.

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