A playground complete with sand, toys, yellow stairs and banners. Freestanding pillars of old iron, firmly rooted in place by rubble. Stills of a transgender couple in transition. Glowing rocks floating in the middle of a black room.
Every theme and medium was on display at NEXT, the Corcoran School of Art and Design’s annual thesis exhibition for graduating undergraduate and graduate students.
“It’s a real process of trying to figure out who they are as artists, where they belong in an art historical context and how it is that they want to be an artist,” Muriel Hasbun, the chair of Corcoran’s photography department, said.
Each student chose a specialized field to major in, but faculty advised the graduating students to mix media for their final projects, Lynn Sures, the head of the fine arts department, said.
“We have a philosophy that integrates the arts,” Sures said.
Every student needed different amounts of space for their work: The larger fine arts exhibits required rectangular floor space equivalent to a large sandbox, the video and light shows required a dark room, pedestals in the Rotunda were essential to presenting art books and photographs and websites required flat walls or outlets.
Jillian Nakornthap, the NEXT exhibition coordinator, said students had no problem mixing media because so many Corcoran courses are hybrids between different art forms. The graduate thesis displays were grouped together by medium.
“It’s about what works better for the artwork,” said Nakornthap.
Andrew Windham, a graduate student who presented photo stills and videos of a transgender couple as part of his exhibit “Ourselves,” said this exhibition was not the end for his project. He hopes that by the upcoming June he will have enough footage to create a documentary that humanizes transgender couple DJ Kunst and Mikey Stipkovitz.
Windham said his goal is to make the struggles of transition for Kunst and Stipkovitz relatable to the general public.
“It would be a disservice to the project to stop now,” Windham said.
The NEXT gallery is on display at the Corcoran’s Flagg Building until May 15.