Islip Art Museum welcomes MFA students
Curator Seung Lee and featured artists with Lynda Moran, director of the Islip Arts Council, and Islip Town Councilman Jim O’Conner.


Islip Art Museum welcomes MFA students


EAST ISLIP—Last month, the Islip Art Museum unveiled Long Island MFA, a group exhibition of six graduate art students from Long Island University and Stony Brook University. Curator Seung Lee and a number of the featured artists, as well as Islip Arts Council executive director Lynda Moran and Islip Town councilman Jim O’Connor, attended the opening reception on Saturday, June 2.

Lee, director of fine arts and graduate studies at LIU, says that his graduate program and SBU’s are the strongest on Long Island, but they very rarely do anything together. “Artists, by nature, are isolated,” he said, adding that this not only applies to individuals, but groups as well. “Art is about opinion,” Lee added. “There’s no right or wrong, but I can still see the difference between the students from the different programs. I hope they can see that too and learn from each other.”

Lauren Ruiz, an East Islip resident and SBU graduate student whose work is currently on display, is a research-based, multimedia artist addressing ecological contamination and the corrosive effects of human activity. Ruiz says her research focuses on the amount of artificial materials that exist in human cells and questions what it means to be human in our current geological age. She uses non-biodegradable and single-use plastics in her various installations to shine a light on individual responsibility when it comes to environmental decline. “I like creepy things,” she laughed. 

Ruiz’s work will also be featured in Figment NYC 2018, a free two-day participatory arts event held on Governor’s Island from Saturday, June 23 until Sunday, June 24. “I will be doing an immersive installation dealing with climate change and plastic pollution through a climate fiction narrative,” she explained. 

Maggie Avolio, another featured artist, was raised in a small rural town in upstate New York and is currently pursuing her MFA in studio art at SBU, where she was awarded the Goldberger Fellowship. Much of her work on display at IAM is untitled. “Titling has always been difficult for me,” Avolio said. “I prefer to let the work speak for itself.” She also says she is interested in the physical materials of what she uses in her art and incorporates fabric, thread, and other textiles from previously existing canvases to create new sculptures and drawings. 

Karine Falleni is a 2018 graduate candidate at SBU whose work ranges from site-specific installations to works on paper. Falleni says she is interested in how indoor space affects the human body. “I like positioning myself into certain spaces and seeing how I react,” she said, adding that what the audience sees is the aftermath.

“I often question how much of our everyday movements are actually guided by the structures we encounter,” Falleni continued. “The scale of a room dictates the gesture of my physical body, which leads to the mark making.” She added that her works come from the relationship between the human body and architectural body, and the finality is captured in time. “There’s so many missed moments in the day, and I’m interested in documenting that.” 

Laura Helen Sweeney, an LIU graduate student and Southold resident, is an illustrator whose recent body of work, “Redux,” is a reflection on the influence of pop culture. Sweeney looks to reinvent images—or more specifically, characters—from existing movies and TV shows with new visual interpretations, including portraits of family and friends in “cosplay.” 

Cosplay refers to the Japanese term, which fuses “costume” and “play” together, and acts as a way for film fans to express their enthusiasm creatively. Sweeney is clearly a “Twin Peaks” fan, and you can see her interpretations of the show’s most famous characters, including Dale Cooper, at IAM. 

Hyon Hee Cho Hartberger recently graduated from LIU’s MFA program. Hartberger, who was born in South Korea and currently lives on the North Fork, says she draws a lot of inspiration from artists like Franz Kline and Basquiat, but also draws inspiration from her own life. She explained that last summer, she felt lost as an artist. But, after working with some random colors and familiar images, she seemed to get her groove back. “This is the first time in a very long time where I truly feel free about my work,” Hartberger said. “Through my works, I want to be able to tell my story—I want to be able to look back and use these works as a reference point in my life.”

The group exhibition runs until Monday, July 30. 

The Islip Art Museum is located at 50 Irish Lane in East Islip. For more information, call 631-224-5402 or visit