Grad student explores furniture in thesis exhibition

by Alek Sanchez, Staff Writer

When many people look at furniture, they often think of style or comfort. Sophie Glenn, however, thinks art.

As a furniture design and woodworking graduate student at San Diego State, Glenn pushes the boundaries of functionality and aesthetics with her expertise as a metal and woodworker.

Her Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition Subject to Change opened April 25 in the University Art Gallery, located in SDSU’s Art North building on the far north end of campus. The gallery’s hours are from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and it’s open Monday through Thursday.

Subject to Change features art pieces that question the norm of furniture. Glenn blends painted steel with hard maple or walnut in ways that challenge the traditional form and functionality of what furniture can be. Her piece “untitled table” may seem like it’s about to fall over, and another piece “orange” looks like it can’t withstand any pressure. But with Glenn’s work, looks are deceiving. In reality, her pieces are just as functional and useful as a traditional piece of furniture.

“There’s a little bit of questioning of whether the pieces function or not,” Glenn said. “So for my work, I really wanted people to consider the furniture forms that they are looking at, and not just blow them off as regular pieces of furniture. I really wanted them to have a voice of their own.”

Glenn’s ambition for her exhibit was for it to serve as a vehicle for change, both for the furniture pieces and those attending the exhibit.

“(Subject To Change) is a dual-purpose meaning because the furniture pieces are subject to change when they change furniture forms, but also the people’s engagement with it,” Glenn said. “The people are actually the subjects to change. Their levels of engagement sort of change when looking at these pieces.”

Glenn’s experimentations with furniture, from acute forms and a clean aesthetic, work to make patrons question traditional concepts of furniture.

Management information senior Gail Capati took a peek into the exhibit.

“When you first think of furniture, you think of something like out of IKEA,” Capati said. “But what (Glenn) is doing here is showing us that even after these pieces have been contorted and changed, they still work (as furniture).”

Glenn says “Subject to Change” works out just as she hoped. Whether her pieces are viewed as a decorative art piece or as a functional home furnishing, Glenn hopes that every piece finds a home.

The gallery will be running until Thursday, May 5, and is open to all students and guests.