Unpacking the Exhibition: Artist Talk

Unpacking the Exhibition: Artist Talk

Date and Time

Thursday, October 20, 2022 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


This event is free to attend.
The RSVP deadline has passed for this event.


Virtual via Zoom. RSVP to receive access to the event.


Join us for a virtual conversation with artists Melissa Cooke Bensen and Maria Tomasula, two artists whose works are included in the exhibition As Is: Beauty and the Body in Contemporary Art now on view in the GVSU Art Gallery (PAC 1121) through November 4, 2022. In this conversation, we'll unpack the ways in which artists use the human form as a means of personal expression and as a site to explore questions of politics, identity, and cultural and social norms. This conversation will serve as a lens through which to view the work in the exhibition. 

Melissa Cooke Bensen received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Specializing in powdered graphite on paper, her work investigates the relationship between photography, performance and drawing in portraiture. Cooke is represented by Koplin Del Rio in Seattle, Washington. Her drawings have been exhibited at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Oceanside Museum of Contemporary Art, The Baker Museum, Yellowstone Art Museum, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and numerous galleries and colleges. Cooke’s drawings are in collections such as the Arkansas Art Center, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Minnesota Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium Art Collection and have been featured in New American Painting, Fine Art Connoisseur, Hi-Fructose, Drawing Magazine, and The Huffington Post. She lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Born in East Chicago, Indiana, Maria Tomasula is an active part of the Chicago art scene. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then continued her education at Northwestern University, where she earned a Masters degree in Fine Arts. She is currently Professor of Art at the University of Notre Dame. Her recent solo exhibitions include shows at Forum Gallery in New York and in Los Angeles, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis and at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago. With striking color and theatrical compositions, Tomasula’s artwork is influenced by an aesthetic of the Mexican diaspora, especially of altar painting, as well as by ‘new materialist’ writers. As an artist she seeks to create images that give visual form to the elusive sensation of being, of embodiment, and of relation with the world. She brings simple objects such as fruit and flowers together to create metaphorical, poetic works. The seemingly inanimate objects take on the vibrancy of evocative, sensual characteristics.

Image credit: Melissa Cooke Bensen, Fairy Tales End at Midnight, graphite on paper, 2010, courtesy of Brian Westphal and Michael McVickar


This event also appears on the main events calendar tagged as artgallery, arts, and culture.


Art Gallery exhibitions, programs, and virtual programs are free and open to anyone. For additional program offerings or for more information on these events please visit If you have questions, need assistance or accommodations, or to schedule a group visit, please call us at 616.331.2563 or email [email protected].

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Page last modified October 17, 2022