A Look Back at Miami 2017

This week marks the end of our semester and a week after Aqua Art Miami 2017. With hundreds of International collectors, curators, artists, and visitors in attendance at the fair and over $7,095 sold in work, we are chalking up our exhibition as a success. The 2017 MFA exhibition, Fever Dreams, marked the 7th consecutive year our program has participated in the fair. The Aqua Miami platform, open during Art Basel week, provides the artists with an opportunity to garner international attention and present new work to a public audience.

A lot of preparations went into the trip to Miami. Our MFAs and faculty met weekly while our graphic designer, MFA Valentina Caver, designed the Fever Dreams catalogue. The catalogue opens with an introduction by guest essayist and visiting artist, Julian Hoeber, and continues with an interview of each student about their work.


Leading up to the event, Floyd Hall wrote an article in ArtsATL about Atlanta artists participating in the international fairs during Basel Miami week and the kind of preparations that go into it. He interviewed Graduate Director, Craig Drennen, and MFA Amelia Carley about their past experiences and what this opportunity means to our third-year grads:

“The Miami art fairs provide a type of energized contact with the international art world that’s difficult to duplicate,” says Drennen. “Our GSU group is unique among the art fair booths because we are the only group not obsessed with sales, although students do sell every year.  There are typically around 80,000 visitors to the Miami art fairs. Last year there were 269 total galleries from 29 different countries. That’s a lot of art for our students to see, and a massive, eager art audience ready to see them . . . This is a culminating event for our MFA students, and our staff and faculty work hard to make it beneficial.”

The weeks leading up to Art Basel Miami week, online articles listed the most anticipated shows of the year. Aqua Art Miami was listed as one of TimeOut Miami’s best satellite fair for which one of Amelia Carley’s sand sculpture paintings was the cover photo. Welch professor, Jiha Moon was featured in Artsy’s NADA preview. She had work both at Untitled (at the Mindy Solomon Gallery booth) and the Artadia NADA fair booth.


After months of planning, putting the finishing touches on work, and packing, the MFAs brought their pieces to be loaded into the truck to travel 665 miles South. Next stop: Miami.



Aqua Art Miami, in its 13th year, is an annual fair that coincides with Basel Miami week. The fair is held in a retro South Beach Hotel. The rooms are cleared of furniture and transformed into exhibition spaces. The balconies and palm-lined courtyard pulse with color, light, and sound for the opening night. The fair kicked off with a VIP Preview and party December 6, featuring 52 international exhibitors. The Ernest G. Welch booth was one oft largest, representing the most artists, and was once again the only academic institution represented.

The show was open through December 10, and had many visitors notable visitors including artists Ridley Howard and Holly Coulis; CAM curator (and GSU alumna) Wassan Al-Khudhairi; artist-in-residence Radcliffe Bailey; Sarah Higgins, curator of the Zuckerman; Gallery owner Marcia Wood; Veronica Kessenich, director of the Atlanta Contemporary, and artists Cheryl Goldsleger, Jiha Moon, In Kyoung Chun, Joe Peragine, William Downs, Christina West, Scott Ingram, and Donna J. Trump.

Though the objective of the exhibition is always visibility, networking, and experience, students sold 12 pieces, totaling at $7,095. Nuni Lee, MFA in painting and drawing, sold out on opening night.  The work on view in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design show was multi-media, and though the artists’ work is interdisciplinary,  it represented the disciplines of Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, Textiles, Ceramics, Printmaking, and Photography. This year they also incorporated methods and mediums such as sound, light, and performance. The participating 3rd year graduate students included Amelia Carley, Tyler Cieplowski, Kelli Couch, Nuni Lee, Maryam Palizgir, Judy Parady, Aaron Putt, Kirstie Tepper, Yours Truly MF, and Vanessa Yvonne.












The 3rd Year MFA’s and Jiha Moon were not the only Ernest G. Welch artists to be headed down south for Art Basel week.  Our former Welch director, Cheryl Goldsleger had work at Art Miami, and our former visiting Artist-in-Residence, Radcliffe Bailey had work at both Untitled and Art Miami Basel. Ceramics/Sculpture Faculty, Christina West was represented by Hathaway Gallery as a part of Pulse Miami Beach, which had it’s VIP opening the morning of December 7 on the beach. Many Welch faculty, MFAs, and recent BFA graduates came to also support those exhibiting throughout the week.



The Welch MFA exhibition at Aqua Art Miami continues to raise the bar as a creative and experimental showcase for emerging contemporary art. Next up, the MFA grad students shift focus to thesis mode this spring.

To learn more about our participation in previous years, visit http://gsuaqua.com.