Fine Arts Alumnus Receives Regional Award

a photograph taken of work at Shawn Edrington's MFA exhibition.
A piece from “Terrain Vague,” by Shawn Edrington.

Shawn Edrington has received the Western Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Master’s Thesis and/or Final Master’s Capstone Project Award in the category of creative, visual and performing arts for his thesis project “Terrain Vague.” The Western Association of Graduate Schools consists of accredited institutions in the Western United States, Canada, Mexico and the Pacific Rim.

Edrington graduated from Boise State with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in 2018. He is the first Boise State student to win the award and will be honored at an event in Tucson, Arizona, in March.

“It’s really surprising. I was caught off guard,” said Edrington about the award. Receiving the recognition, he said, “has been a great kind of motivation for me and a validation that all of that effort was indeed worth it.”

He is in the midst of applying for art teaching positions throughout the country – a tough market – and is happy to be able to add this additional honor to his resume.

A photo of Shawn Edrington

“The Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies is extraordinarily proud of Shawn, who fully deserves the WAGS award for his commitment, intelligence and creativity,” said Chad Erpelding, graduate program director. “It is an enormous honor that Shawn’s thesis, “Terrain Vague,” was selected for this prestigious award, especially given the level of competition in the region.”

“Terrain Vague” was inspired by a visit Edgrington took to the Idaho National Laboratory nuclear waste processing site in Eastern Idaho, not far from where he spent his childhood. The exhibition consisted of sculptural and kinetic works, photographs and video.

“Rather than being very specific about that site or my experience there, I tried to create more of a narrative about the feeling of being in an ever-shrinking natural world in which there’s no longer this kind of ‘more, more and more,'” said Edgrington – infinite, uninhabited terrain, so characteristic of the American West, that can absorb the things we don’t want to deal with.

“We’re going to have to share space with these potentially hazardous materials eventually, and realize what we’re be up against.”

“Terrain Vague” was the first exhibition to be shown in the Neri Gallery on campus last spring. In addition to the WAGS award, his is the first to receive Boise State’s Distinguished Master’s Thesis and Project Award for the arts.