Fine Arts Students Explore “Terra Incognita”

Senior thesis exhibit examines the boundary between the known and unknown

Four student artists featured in the Terra Incognita exhibit, at the Suffolk University Gallery April 27 through May 10, explore the boundary between what they know and what they don’t, as reflected in the show’s title.

When Roman mapmakers drew a land area that no one had yet explored, they often labeled it “Terra Incognita"—that is, “the Unknown Territory.” While it is impossible to map that which is unknown, these mapmakers often filled those areas beyond their knowledge with portents of opportunity and danger; cities filled with imagined riches, and warnings written on the uncharted sea that “Here Be Dragons.” As the intrepid seekers pushed on, the boundary marking the edge of the known and unknown world receded.

“Now we think of our globe as Terra Cognita,” writes Fine Arts Professor Randal Thurston in a description of the exhibit.

The Suffolk Art & Design students’ transformation of materials through process and personal reflection is a form of navigation, the impulse to chart their journey is how they map the world. 

  • Georgia Bourikas applies layers of skin-like paint onto the hard edged industrial skeleton of disassembled car parts. Her photographs possess a visual language that incorporates serendipity and careful planning; by turns dynamic and vulnerable, Bourikas finds in that combination an unlikely but wonderful poetry of form and function.
  • Haley Cormier’s sheath made from hundreds of carefully joined pieces of bark mulch is at once sky, land, and sea, richly evocative of both an overhead woodland canopy and the river that courses beneath it. While embracing the ephemeral nature of personal and shared memory, the physicality of Cormier’s work reminds us that we are in a world filled with the wonder of discovery.
  • Kayla Hart’s meditation on the senses couples the delicate reality of a cast human ear with the profound nature of its importance in our lives. Visualizing sound and, more importantly, the idea of communication, Hart has created a massive yet airy form, which reminds us that, in many ways, the world inside us is larger than the world outside. Colossal and miniature, Hart’s work speaks to the cadence of life and seizes on the opportunity to grasp it.
  • Lauren Tovey explores opacity and transparency in equal measure. Her dimension paintings, devoid of color but rich in meaning, show us a seemingly ordered world as if seen from a great distance. We are invited to enjoy the precise mastery of her rendering even as we are encouraged to consider the very idea of order. Tovey’s resin constructions take another tack, trapping networks and pathways of blue tape as though they were held in the timeless stasis of flies in amber.

“The need to explore, to search for something that seems to be always just beyond our grasp, is what drives us as artists,” writes Thurston. “The discoveries they made along the way, markers in our journey to understand themselves and their world, is what the artists in Terra Incognita are sharing in this exhibition.”

A reception with the artists will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, April 28, as part of ArtWeek Boston.