College Art Association

CAA News Today

Help the NEH Celebrate Its Fiftieth Anniversary

posted by January 29, 2015

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency created in 1965 and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2015–16. To mark this historic event, we would like you to tell us about an NEH grant or grant product that has made a difference in your life, career, community, or academic field. To contribute stories about NEH’s past or for more information, send an email to NEH50@neh.gov. Please include your name and telephone number in your message.

Because democracy demands wisdom, the NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. The grants:

  • strengthen teaching and learning in schools and colleges
  • facilitate research and original scholarship
  • provide opportunities for lifelong learning
  • preserve and provide access to cultural and educational resources
  • strengthen the institutional base of the humanities

Since 1965, the endowment has opened new worlds of learning for the American public with noteworthy projects such as:

  • Seven thousand books, 16 of which have won Pulitzer Prizes and 20 of which have received the Bancroft Prize
  • The Civil War, the landmark documentary by Ken Burns viewed by 38 million Americans
  • The Library of America editions of novels, essays, and poems celebrating America’s literary heritage
  • The United States Newspaper Project, which catalogued and microfilmed 63.3 million pages of historic newspapers and paved the way for the National Digital Newspaper Program and its digital repository, Chronicling America
  • Annual support for 56 states and territories to help support some 56,000 lectures, discussions, exhibitions, and other programs each year

We look forward to hearing from you!

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

The $1,000 Job Interview That Will Not Die

I’m relieved to see that more departments, in a diverse array of fields, are choosing to offer alternatives to the traditional convention interview—or to forego the first-round conference interview altogether, like they should, since, as many sane voices have already opined quite loudly, it is no longer necessary. However, it dismays me to report that some holdouts remain. (Read more from Vitae.)

Don’t Kill the Conference Interview

Rebecca Schuman recently called for the death of the conference interview for faculty jobs. A key reason she listed was the expense, citing the Modern Language Association’s recent convention as a case in point. In fact, she went to considerable length to prove that anyone traveling to Vancouver for that meeting would need to spend more than $1,000. But a data point is not a universal. Many faculty members with full-time jobs and many graduate students seeking employment still think the conference interview is a useful enterprise. (Read more from Vitae.)

How Not to Be a Jerk at Your Next Academic Conference

If you’ve spent any time at an academic conference, you know the scene: a stage full of scholars have just finished presenting their papers. As the Q&A session begins, a woman rises from the audience and prefaces her remarks by saying, in so many words, that she hadn’t been invited to appear on the panel. But here, anyway, are the highlights of her paper—and her credentials and biography, too. (Read more from Vitae.)

Teaching Artists Applying the Breadth of Their Skills

The typical structure of 99 percent of American nonprofit arts organizations includes segregated artistic, administrative, and development departments. My colleagues who work in such segregated institutions experience chasms between departments and waste time bickering and competing for an even share of resources. Aside from the intention of human-resource efficiency, I have never understood the acceptance of this structure. (Read more from ARTSblog.)

L’Origine du Monde Sparks Facebook Legal Battle

Facebook has been taken to court by a French user whose account was closed after he posted an image of Gustave Courbet’s racy painting L’Origine du Monde (1866). According to Le Figaro, the world-famous oil on canvas was part of a promo for an art-history video about the artwork, broadcasted by the highbrow TV channel Arte. The plaintiff, a Parisian schoolteacher, seeks the reactivation of his Facebook account and €20,000 in damages. (Read more from Artnet News.)

The NEA and the Federal Reserve Bank Reports

First, the release of the NEA report, A Decade of Arts Engagement, on arts attendance and participation—widely reported almost everywhere. Not much new here. Confirmation that attendance in the core arts continues a two-decade decline, while distribution of arts via technology is on the increase. Arts participation is up overall if you count “selfless” and downloading your favorite pop song, or maybe dancing in front of your mirror. (Read more from Barry’s Blog.)

Might at the Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s big, new move into twentieth-century art—propelled by Leonard Lauder’s recent $1 billion gift of eighty-one Cubist masterpieces—is altering the balance of power among New York’s biggest museums, a change compounded by the Whitney’s relocation downtown and the Museum of Modern Art’s controversial expansion plans. Sorting through talk of a growing rivalry between the Met and MoMA for artworks, board members, and prestige, Bob Colacello uncovers the forces at work. (Read more from Vanity Fair.)

Effective Ways to Structure Discussion

The use of online discussion in both blended and fully online courses has made clear that those exchanges are more productive if they are structured, if there’s a protocol that guides the interaction. This kind of structure is more important in the online environment because those discussions are usually asynchronous and miss all the nonverbal cues that facilitate face-to-face exchanges. But I’m wondering if more structure might benefit our in-class discussions as well. (Read more from Faculty Focus.)

Filed under: CAA News

Art2Drone Catalogue Exhibition

posted by January 23, 2015

Art2Drone is a catalogue exhibition, published in conjunction with ARTspace at the 2015 Annual Conference in New York, that brings together the work of artists who investigate drone technology and its cultural implications. The artworks will highlight political, social, scientific, and artistic impacts of drone technology. The catalogue is distributed by CAA and v1b3 as a printable PDF. Each project will link to a website to view additional media. Included in the catalogue is a critical essay by Meredith Hoy.

The curators of Art2Drone are Chris Manzione, Conrad Gleber, Gail Rubini, and Mat Rappaport. The online and downloadable catalogue can be found at http://v1b3.com/project/art2drone/.

CAA’s nine Professional Interests, Practices, and Standards Committees welcome their newly appointed members, who will serve three-year terms (2015–18). In addition, three new chairs will take over committee leadership. New committee members and chairs will begin their terms at the 2015 Annual Conference in New York. CAA warmly thanks all outgoing committee members for their years of service to the organization.

A call for nominations for these committees appears annually from July to September in CAA News and on the CAA website. CAA’s president, vice president for committees, and executive director review all nominations in November and make appointments that take effect the following February. CAA’s vice president for committees is an ex officio member of all nine groups.

New Committee Members and Chairs

Committee on Diversity Practices: Ann Albritton, Ringling College of Art and Design; Mariola Alvarez, Washington College; Raél Jero Salley, University of Cape Town; and Edith Wolfe, Tulane University. The new chair is Christine Young-Kyung Hahn of Kalamazoo College.

Committee on Intellectual Property: Amy Ogata, University of Southern California.

Committee on Women in the Arts: Jenn Dierdorf, A.I.R. Gallery; Johanna Gosse, independent scholar, Seattle; Heather Belnap Jensen, Brigham Young University; Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Duke University; Miriam Schaer, Columbia College Chicago; and Jean Shin, Pratt Institute. Donna Moran of Pratt Institute is the new committee chair.

Education Committee: Kathleen Holko, Bruce Museum; Richard D. Lubben, South Texas College; and Christopher Ulivo, Santa Barbara City College.

International Committee: Alexandra Chang, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, New York University; and Fernando Luis Martínez Nespral, University of Buenos Aires.

Museum Committee: Jill Deupi, Lowe Art Museum; and Ivan Gaskell, Bard Graduate Center.

Professional Practices Committee: Susan Altman, Middlesex County College; Eunice Howe, University of Southern California; Walter Meyer, Santa Monica College; and Greg Shelnutt, Clemson University. Bruce Mackh of the University of Michigan has become the committee’s new chair.

Services to Artists Committee: Jan Christian Bernabe, Center for Art and Thought; and Carissa Carman, Indiana University.

Student and Emerging Professionals Committee: Tania Batley, Lefferts Historic House; Rachel Kreiter, Emory University; and Jenny Tang, Yale University.

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

With New Congress, Resale Royalties Bill Is Dead (Again)

This week, the 114th Congress took its seats, meaning that any bill not passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed by the president is a dead letter. This is the fate of many bills—indeed most. Art Law Report has followed two proposed laws for four years now, each of which have been introduced in some form in successive Congresses, only to lapse when a new Congress stepped in. (Read more from Art Law Report.)

Can the First Amendment Survive the Internet?

The internet presents First Amendment quandaries that seem fundamentally different from those society faced previously. But are they really? Once only people wealthy enough to own a newspaper or a broadcast station could reach a large audience. Now anyone with access to a computer or even a cellphone—in other words, just about everyone—can reach a large number of people almost instantly. It used to be, too, that serious research often required a trip to a distant library or museum. (Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

US Artists That Use Drones Could Be Grounded

Artists in the United States could have less than a year left to freely use drones in their work. Although current flight restrictions apply only to commercial, not artistic, use of drones, the Federal Aviation Administration is working on new regulations that are due to be submitted to Congress by September. The clampdown comes in the face of the drone’s growing accessibility. (Read more from the Art Newspaper.)

See What the Artworks See

As museum goers, we’re used to looking at art, but a new project from the filmmaker and artist Masashi Kawamura inverses the traditional relationship of viewer to artwork. For his blog What They See, Kawamura has taken photographs from the perspectives of famous artworks, inviting us into their visual fields. Among the works represented so far are Degas’s The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, who apparently spends her days at the Metropolitan Museum gazing at the arch of a doorway, and Modigliani’s Reclining Nude, who gazes sideways at the paintings on the opposite wall. (Read more from Hyperallergic.)

Describing Art: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Effects of Speaking on Gaze Movements during the Beholding of Paintings

Ever since the Renaissance, speaking about paintings has been a fundamental approach for beholders—especially experts. It is unclear, however, whether and how speaking about art modifies the way we look at it; this was not yet empirically tested. The present study investigated in what way speaking modifies the patterns of fixations and gaze movements while looking at paintings. (Read more from PLOS One.)

How to Survive a PhD Viva: Seventeen Top Tips

Handing in your PhD thesis is a massive achievement—but it’s not the end of the journey for doctoral students. Once you’ve submitted, you’ll need to prepare for the next intellectually grueling hurdle: a viva. This oral examination formally ensures that there’s no plagiarism involved, and that the student understands and can explain their thesis. It involves lots of penetrating questions and conceptually complex debates—and is infamously terrifying. (Read more from the Guardian.)

Ask the Art Professor: How Can I Study to Become a Professional Artist on My Own?

I am 23 years old and a beginning visual artist. I really want to get to a professional level but have no idea how to teach myself to get to that level. I can’t afford to go to art school and don’t have much money for local classes and workshops. Is there any way I could do this on my own? (Read more from the Huffington Post.)

Writing with a Heavy Teaching Load

Rachel Toor’s essay “The Habits of Highly Productive Writers” contains practical information for academics seeking to boost their written output; it also approaches the topic in a way that, for me, makes the whole endeavor seem a bit less daunting. I can imagine many readers came away from her column thinking, “I can do this.” And yet, I can also imagine that many full-time faculty members at community colleges and other teaching-focused institutions found themselves also thinking, “That would be nice—if only I had the time to write.” (Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Filed under: CAA News

Service as a Mock Interviewer

posted by January 20, 2015

For the 2015 Annual Conference in New York, the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee seeks established professionals to volunteer as practice interviewers for the Mock Interview Sessions. Participating as an interviewer is an excellent way to serve the field and to assist with the professional development of the next generation of artists and scholars.

In these sessions, interviewers pose as a prospective employer, speaking with individuals in a scenario similar to the Interview Hall at the conference. Each session is composed of approximately 10–15 minutes of interview questions and a quick review of the application packet, followed by 5–10 minutes of candid feedback. Whenever possible, the committee matches interviewers and interviewees based on medium or discipline.

Interested candidates must be current CAA members and prepared to give six successive twenty-minute interviews with feedback in a two-hour period on one or both of these days: Thursday, February 12, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM and 3:00–5:00 PM; and Friday, February 13, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:00–3:00 PM. Conference registration, while encouraged, is not required to be a mock interviewer. Desired for the sessions are art historians, art educators, designers, museum-studies professionals, critics, curators, and studio artists with tenure and/or experience on a search committee. You may volunteer for one, two, three, or all four Mock Interview Sessions.

Please send your name, affiliation, position, contact information, and the days and times that you are available to Megan Koza Young, chair of the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee. Deadline: January 31, 2015.

The Mock Interview Sessions are not intended as a screening process by institutions seeking new hires.

CAA has designed the Career Services Guide to inform job seekers and employers about placement activities at the 2015 Annual Conference in New York. The publication, available as a PDF, will help you navigate Career Services events and provides answers to frequently asked questions. Study this guide carefully so that you will know what to expect from conference interviewing and how best to prepare for a successful experience.

Job candidates can review the basics of the conference employment search. Read about the Candidate Center, your home base at the conference, as well as Orientation, an introduction to Career Services where you can ask questions. In addition, learn more about the Online Career Center, where you can search for position listings, post application materials, and arrange interviews. The publication includes tips for improving your CV, portfolio, and supplemental application materials.

Employers will find details in the guide for renting interview booths and tables as well as recommendations for posting jobs and conducting interviews at the conference. You can begin preparations now for Career Services through the Online Career Center or onsite at the Interviewer Center.

Printed copies of the Career Services Guide will be distributed onsite at Orientation and in the Candidate Center. All conference Career Services will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown. For more information about job searching, professional-development workshops, and more, visit the Career Services section of the conference website.

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

Artists’ Low Income and Status Are International Issues

In the UK, as the Paying Artists campaign revealed in 2014, the majority of contemporary artists are barely surviving financially, with no or low pay the norm. In real terms, nearly three-quarters of artists are getting just 37 percent of the average UK salary from their practice. But while some argue that it’s the absence of collective bargaining mechanisms that result in such exploitation, even in countries where there are well-developed fees systems, low pay for artists remains the burning issue. (Read more from the Guardian.)

New Focus: The Art of Making a Living

When administrators at University of the Arts were seeking a new way to prepare students for work after graduation, they didn’t have to look far. An answer lay just across Pine Street. They struck a cross-registration deal with Peirce College, a neighboring school that offers classes in finance, ecommerce, marketing, and app development. Kirk Pillow, the university’s provost, said it’s part of a broader effort to create value for students. (Read more from the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

What Can Learned Societies Do about Adjuncts?

What power do learned societies have to effect change? What is actually within their reach? These are not omnipotent organizations, despite the attempts to suggest they are. Their resources are finite as are their spheres of influence. What they should do doesn’t neatly fit with what they can do. This is not to defend the inaction of learned societies on the issue of contingent labor, but rather to contextualize the possibility of action and recourse. (Read more from Vitae.)

Help Desk: Breaking into Arts Journalism

I love writing and I love art. I have been teaching for ten years and am now looking to break into journalism and the arts. Should I head back to university and do a journalism course or attempt every competition possible in order to build a portfolio? (Read more from Daily Serving.)

Thirty Art-Writing Clichés to Ditch in the New Year

It’s a new year, which is a fine excuse as any to ditch old bad habits. Here below, I have assembled a not-at-all exhaustive list of art-writing words that I could do without in 2015. I admit, I’ve been guilty myself of abusing some or all of them—but of course that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for. (Read more from Artnet News.)

The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion

Recently I was told that a certain art magazine editor, who had deleted the feminist critique from a review I had written, “can only take so much feminism.” At the time, I was infuriated that someone who is tasked with shaping the way art is discussed would take such an explicit and condescending stance against gender equality. With art-world professionals like him hoping that feminism would just go away, it feels necessary to be supportive of any museum exhibitions, gallery shows, market successes, or media attention given to women artists. (Read more from Hyperallergic.)

Measuring Diversity in City Arts Organizations

A mecca for the arts, New York City has also become one of the most multicultural cities in the country, with no single dominant racial or ethnic group and residents who speak more than two hundred languages, according to the Department of City Planning. Whether its cultural institutions reflect those demographics is another issue. (Read more from the Wall Street Journal.)

Raising the Profile of Columbia’s Art

Columbia University owns thousands of antiquities, antiques, and paintings, but it has no major display spaces and no comprehensive database. So the works largely go unnoticed even by some staff members. Roberto C. Ferrari, an art historian and librarian who became Columbia’s curator of art properties in 2013, has set out to raise the profile of the ten thousand objects on campus. (Read more from the New York Times.)

Will There Be Life after Death for New Private Museums?

From the opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in October to the construction of the Broad in Los Angeles, now set to open this autumn, the model of the single-donor museum is thriving. You’d have to dial back the clock more than a century to the American “robber barons” like Frick, Morgan, and Huntington to find another moment in art history when so many great institutions were founded by powerful individuals instead of broader coalitions or private-public alliances. (Read more from the Art Newspaper.)

Filed under: CAA News

Sign Up for a Mock Interview

posted by January 13, 2015

Students and emerging professionals have the opportunity to sign up for a twenty-minute practice interview at the 2015 Annual Conference in New York. Organized by the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee, Mock Interview Sessions give participants the chance to practice their interview skills one on one with a seasoned professional, improve their effectiveness during interviews, and hone their elevator speech. Interviewers also provide candid feedback on application packets.

Mock Interview Sessions are offered free of charge; you must be a CAA member to participate. Sessions are filled by appointment only and scheduled for Thursday, February 12, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM and 3:00–5:00 PM; and Friday, February 13, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:00–3:00 PM. Conference registration, while encouraged, is not necessary to participate.

To apply, download, complete, and send the 2015 Mock Interview Sessions Enrollment Form to Megan Koza Young, chair of the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee, by email to sepccaa@gmail.com or by mail to: 706 Webster Street, New Orleans, LA 70118. You may enroll in one twenty-minute session. Deadline: February 5, 2015.

You will be notified of your appointment day and time by email. Please bring your application packet, including cover letter, CV, and other materials related to jobs in your field. The Student and Emerging Professionals Committee will make every effort to accommodate all applicants; however, space is limited.

Onsite enrollment will be limited and first-come, first-served. Sign up in the Student and Emerging Professionals Lounge starting on Wednesday, February 11, at 4:00 PM.

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

January 2015

Nicole Miller at Artists’ Film International
Ballroom Marfa
108 East San Antonio Street, Marfa, TX 79843
November 22, 2014–February 22, 2015

Ballroom Marfa is presenting two recent videos by Nicole Miller, as a highlighted artist participating at the Artists’ Film International. This project means a collection of artists’ film, video and animation from around the world that has been coorganized with Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Miller (b. 1982; Tucson, Arizona) lives and works in Los Angeles. Her films and installations explore the transformative capabilities of the moving image to reconstruct interpretations of self and culture. Through storytelling, self-representation and self-presentation become a narrative in search for the reconstitution of physical and psychic manifestations of loss. Her videos often focus on the interplay between preconception and reality in terms of African American identity, as in the case of The Conductor (2009), presented earlier this year at the High Line Art Program.

In this occasion, Ballroom Marfa is presenting two recent projects by Miller. In David (2012) we can observe the fragmented image of the profile of a man that the artist encountered by chance on the street. Here, he narrates the events that lead to the amputation of his left arm whilst his right limb is reflected in a mirror—a rehabilitation technique that helps patients deal with the painful symptoms of a phantom limb. Death of a School (2014) is a predominantly silent four-channel video that meditates on the events of a soon to be shutdown school in Tucson, which is Miller’s hometown. Presented together, Miller’s films become powerful narratives that carry the possibility of reconstitution of lost histories and identities.

Johanna Calle: Indicios
Casas Reigner
Calle 70A # 7-41, Bogotá, Colombia
October 2, 2014–January 30, 2015

Casas Riegner presents Indicios (Signs), an exhibition that gathers Johanna Calle’s most representative works produced between 1990 and 2014. Seeking to examine closely the visual language that has characterized her work for more than two decades, the exhibition includes a selection of projects in which different processes developed by the artist are juxtaposed. In each series of work, Calle exposes her approach to the creative process, where she also unveils a sense of unsettledness and curiosity.

Featuring her conceptual research and creative use of unconventional materials, the display includes Calle’s assemblages, signs, and phonetic representations of indigenous languages, photographic drawings made on vintage analogue photographs, and the intervention of archives and documents that are part of different research projects. For the documentation-based installation Hermanas Figueiredo (2013–14), Calle reconstructed a story as a gesture of redemption to the Brazilian sisters that devoted their life to a scientific research around the life of butterflies in the first half of the twentieth century. However, they have lost the legal battle with a recognized Brazilian professor who was hired to catalogue their collection and had deliberately chosen to wrongly assign its authorship and ownership. The case was dismissed and labeled as exhaustive and rigorous maniac women’s work.

Calle holds a BFA from Universidad de Los Andes en Bogotá and an MFA from Chelsea College of Arts in London, England. Her projects Perímetros I and Perímetros II were included at the thirty-first Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil in 2014.

Donna Sharrett: Love Songs
Pavel Zoubok Gallery
531 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001
January 8–February 7, 2015

Pavel Zoubok Gallery presents Love Songs, a solo exhibition of new work by Donna Sharrett, including two of her largest—yet humanly scaled—works to date, framed by Sampling, a related group show curated by Dara Meyers-Kingsley.

With a variety of needlework techniques, Sharrett creates painstakingly wrought concentric assemblages sewn together from a potent and personal material lexicon consisting of donated or inherited jewelry, clothing, and buttons; hair, bone beads, dirt, and guitar strings. Passed down from a congenial and ancestral sorority of craftswomen and fiber artists, Sharrett’s techniques instill in each piece cross-cultural references to life, death, and rebirth. Addressing the shared human ability and desire to remember, her works transcend the confines of economic, religious and cultural boundaries.They instead evoke “life as it is lived and remembered—a notion of lineage that is not always linear and narrative but sometimes acts more like a spiral—a growing flower that rises from the earth and whose seeds scatter to become the next crop.”

Sharrett (b. Philadelphia, 1958) is the recipient of two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as notable residencies and grants from Smack Mellon, the Bronx Museum and the Millay Colony for the Arts Residency. Her work has been widely exhibited, including a solo exhibition at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, and group exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington; the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design in New York; the United States Embassy in Valletta, Malta; the Hebrew Home for the Aged in New York; and J. P. Morgan Chase in New York. A full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
MOCA Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069
October 11, 2014–January 18, 2015

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman is the first survey of Cameron’s work since 1989 and explores the artist’s role as a seminal figure within Los Angeles’s midcentury counterculture, her unique melding of surrealism and mysticism, and her unwavering commitment to live her life as art. “Navigating between disciplines and traditions of poetry, cinema, visual arts, and spirituality; Cameron has opened many doors that continue to intrigue and inspire generations of artists,” while “her hallucinated vision … embodies an aspect of modernity that deeply doubts and defies cartesian logic at a moment in history when these values have shown their own limitations,” as stated by MOCA’s director, Philippe Vergne.

Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, Cameron (Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel) (1922–1995) emerged as an artist, performer, poet, and occult practitioner in Los Angeles, uniquely bridging the city’s flourishing spiritual and art worlds at midcentury. She arrived in Los Angeles by way of the Second World War, where she drew maps and labored in a photographic unit for the United States Navy. A visionary painter and unparalleled draftsman best known today for her paintings and drawings of human and fantastical figures, she spend her last days in West Hollywood largely unrecognized. Cameron’s frenetic, delicate renderings of mythological figures reveal a singular attention to line and the idea of spiritual metamorphosis, evoking the surrealism and symbolism of the French poets. She is closely associated with Beat artists such as Wallace Berman, George Herms, and Dennis Hopper, the filmmakers Kenneth Anger and Curtis Harrington, and the occultist Aleister Crowley, while she was mentor to younger artists and poets such as David Meltzer and Aya (Tarlow). Cameron’s artwork appeared in the first issue of Berman’s celebrated journal Semina (1955–64) and has also been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 1989.

Comprised of nearly one hundred artworks and ephemeral artifacts, the exhibition includes pieces formerly thought to be lost, ranging from early paintings to drawings, sketchbooks, and poetry from her late years, as well as ephemera and correspondence with individuals such as her husband Jack Parsons (1914–1952), a rocket pioneer and a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell. The exhibition brings to life the recently published book titled Songs for the Witch Woman that features a series of poems written by Parsons alongside illustrations drawn by Cameron that echo the intimate themes of their turbulent love story.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Cameron Parsons Foundation is producing an eighty-eight-page catalogue with approximately seventy-five full-color illustrations.

Sylvie Blocher: S’inventeur autrement
Mudam Luxemburg
Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean 3, Park Dräi Eechelen L-1499 Luxembourg-Kirchberg
August 11, 2014–May 25, 2015

Since the early 1990s, the French artist Sylvie Blocher has built up a body of video work that takes the human as its material, in all its fragility, unpredictability, and yet full presence. She engages with a poetics of relation, emancipation, the questioning of identities, the writing of history, the permeability of the masculine/feminine border, and codes of representation in a world under control. Created in different geographic regions, her works are based on exchange: they often involve the participation of lay people, who are invited to present themselves in a completely new fashion before the camera, as the artist “shares her authority with her models” to create what she calls Living Pictures.

This solo exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg revolves around an ambitious project titled Dreams Have a Language, which combines a participative work, a video installation, and the production of a movie. As envisioned by the artist, the show was meant to be “the story of an event at a museum in Luxembourg in which the visitors will not be content to look politely at the works, but decide impulsively to experience leaving the world for a few minutes, in a journey filmed and broadcast, a story of fragmented, floating bodies. Then a movie, the start of another story.”

During the first weeks of the exhibition, the museum’s Grand Hall became a fully active film studio that centered on the operation of a flying machine twelve meters tall. Through the placement of an ad in various media, Blocher invited the public to visit the museum, to leave the ground for a few minutes, and to “rethink the world.” “Shooting conditions: allow one hour and present yourself at Mudam with an idea to change the world. It might be poetic, political, aesthetic, emotional, revolutionary, scientific, architectural, educational, financial, culinary, sonic, etc.” Forming the content for a video installation at the center of the exhibition, the pictures of the suspended bodies will be the starting point for a movie created with the Luxembourg director Donato Rotunno, to be released in spring 2015. By combining a documentary approach with fictional writing, the movie will offer “an assemblage of words, gestures and moments that will open up an imaginary universe, an expectancy, a suspense.”

A survey of the artist’s work is also presented in two of the museum’s galleries, where video installations and drawings sample key themes of Blocher’s work: the sharing of responsibility, the question of politics, identity, dreams, and utopia. By using music to give new life to important speeches and manifestos made in contemporary history (by Angela Davis, Édouard Glissant, and Barack Obama, among others), the five videos that form the series Speeches (2009–12), which are part of the Mudam Collection, engage with the political dimension of the imagination, individual and collective. Other works, such as the diptych Change the Scenario (Conversation with Bruce Nauman) (2013) and the three videos recently created by Blocher in Texas, tackle historic and racial aspects in the construction of the individual. Placed at the entrance to each gallery, a series of drawings that the artist has made every day for a year, based on the front page of the newspaper Libération, emphasizes the passages between the personal and the political initiated by her practice.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags: