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Raphael Benero: 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition


On view online: May 8, 2020 – Ongoing   

This online viewing gallery represents Raphael Benero: 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition, featuring artwork by MFA candidate Raphael Benero. This year’s online MFA exhibition presents a body of work that invites viewers to engage in sculptures that replicate childhood objects negotiating cultural dynamics and Mexican American hybrid identity.

Growing up in El Paso, TX, Benero quickly realized that no matter how hard his family worked, keeping up with the Joneses was never in reach. Through observation of other neighborhood kids having lavishly expensive toys while he was left to his own devices, he became aware of unbalanced cultural and class dynamics at a very early age. The goal of Benero’s use of accessible materials, such as cardboard, stucco tape, steel, and plywood is to elevate commonly used household objects to “art status” by making a genuine gesture of authorship that is not implied through mass-produced objects. According to Dr. Margaret Goehring, Associate Professor of Art History, Raphael Benero explores the intersections of class, gender, and ethnicity through the lens of childrens’ toys. At one level, Benero’s work is deeply autobiographical, investigating his ambivalence for the nostalgia and desire these toys provoke as objects produced by a capitalist system invested in the production of that desire. At another level, they point to the stereotypes that are imposed by this system, reifying lived experience into a facsimile of identity.” Goehring goes on to say, “Trained within an academic tradition that is in itself rooted in a European modernist context that both designates and transmits the ‘canon’ of art, Benero displays a pessimism about his position within that canonical system.”

In the body of work exhibited in his MFA Thesis exhibition Benero allows himself to reflect and dissect his own experience as a Mexican-American with hybrid identities while using humble materials to invoke the sympathetic magic of the maker’s mark. This digital exhibition opens on May 8, 2020, and will be available at The exhibition will remain on display at this website, as we invite our audience to explore this brand new digital exhibition. For more information about this and other upcoming events and updates about the UAM, please visit