Travis Apel, “Dream at Sundown,” 2019, serviceberry root, brushable rubber, sod, soil, plywood, 42 x 32 x 28 in.

It’s still the sad state of affairs that no universities in Omaha offer an MFA program, usually considered an essential qualification for professional visual artists.

Amplify Arts has stepped into that breach with its Work in Progress program, and the art from its first cohort of “students”—Travis Apel, Elizabeth Boutin, Anne Dovali, Holly Kranker and Tyler Swain—will be on view at Benson’s Petshop with an opening on Feb. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m.

During the 10-month program, the artists received feedback through critiques, practiced critical writing and participated in collaborative, interdisciplinary endeavors.

Boutin creates emotionally resonant paintings inflected by her experience with the military. Conversely, Dovali works in mythic and fantastic realms, combining sacred and baroque iconographies with rhinestones and googly eyes. Sculptor Apel explores the natural environment, often incorporating organic material into his pieces. Kranker’s multimedia work reflects places fixed in memory, including domestic settings that may be reflected through her imagery or her use of home construction supplies. Sculptor Swain works in a Dadaist vein, fashioning detritus with a discomfiting aesthetic.

The exhibition continues through March 27. Petshop is located in downtown Benson. Find it on Facebook.

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