posted by Christopher Howard — Oct 03, 2012
Mira Schor, a painter and writer based in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts, will participate in CAA’s next Annual Artists’ Interviews, hosted by ARTspace during the 2013 Annual Conference in New York. This session will be the thirteenth installment of the popular series, which features two major practicing artists in back-to-back interviews. The other artist who will be interviewed is Janine Antoni. The talks will be held on Friday, February 15, 2013, from 2:30 to 5:00 PM at the Hilton in New York. Stuart Horodner, artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, will interview Schor.
Mira Schor (photograph © 2012 Mary Jones)
Mira Schor is a painter, writer, and educator who was born in 1950 into a family of artists in Manhattan. Entering her fifth decade as an artist, she has used the medium of painting to address a wide range of issues: language, corporal materiality, feminist politics, art history, and critical theory. She has also worked in artist’s books and sculpture and has a longstanding engagement with works on paper.
As an art writer and editor, Schor works in the belletristic tradition of John Berger and Virginia Woolf, with her essays combining the candor of a village storyteller with the rigor of a critical approach and maverick fearlessness. Schor’s first decade of writing on contemporary art and culture is collected in Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997). Composed during the Culture Wars of the 1980s and 1990s, the book addresses the work of David Salle, Ida Applebroog, Mary Kelly, and the Guerrilla Girls. In the often-cited essay “Figure/Ground,” Schor’s distinctly feminist voice, seeped in the history of modernism, discusses the perseverance of painting in light of contemporary aesthetic debates. Her latest book is A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009), and she writes regularly about the intersection of art and life for her blog A Year of Positive Thinking, for which she received support from the Arts Writers Grant Program in 2009. Entries include “You Put a Spell on Me,” about the relationship of African art and Renaissance portraiture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; “Youthfulness in Old Age,” about the late paintings of Joan Mitchell and Roberto Matta; and “Books Are Like People,” an exegesis on the life and destruction of the free library at Occupy Wall Street.
Schor maintains a dialectical understanding of the relationship between politics and aesthetics. In a 2011 conversation with Bradley Rubenstein for Culture Catch, she explained, “I speak of two ‘politics,’ what is happening in the world, and art politics, examining which definitions of art are hosts for different types of power. My identity as a painter has always been caught, in a generative way, between the traditions of painting and the proclamations of the death of painting, of the object, of the individual artist, of private studio practice—everything that has become the doxa of contemporary art.”
Mira Schor, Silence….speech, noise, 2010, ink, oil, and gesso on linen, 18 x 30 in. (artwork © Mira Schor; photograph provided by the artist)
Her most recent solo exhibition, Voice and Speech, was held at Marvelli Gallery in New York in spring 2012. A recurring motif in the show was a pensive, schematically sketched figure, what Schor has called an “avatar of self.” In each painting, handwriting, sometimes contained in thought-balloon rectangles, conveys a sense of cartoonish yet poetic immediacy. In a review of the show, the New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote, “Mira Schor’s small, sharp, quirky paintings have been thorns in the side of the medium for more than three decades now…. Abjuring largeness and portentous brushwork as before, these works tackle more directly the immense subject of creativity itself and diagram it in ways both pointedly humorous and expansive.” The paintings, all modestly scaled, convey a sense of private urgency, like torn-out pages from a notebook. In a 2002 interview with the painter Joan Waltemath, published in the Brooklyn Rail, Schor discusses the specificity of painted language, and how her visual art relates to her writing: “the direction of my painting and writing are intimately linked in a constant interplay between practice and theory—I find it hard to place one before the other as I speak: I paint writing and in some cases I paint the (critical/theoretical) writing that I’m writing. I certainly never gave up on visual pleasure. On the contrary I am interested in embedding verbal writing as image into the rich materiality of painting so that the two cannot be disentwined.”
Mira Schor, Slit of Paint, 1994, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 in. (artwork © Mira Schor; photograph provided by the artist)
Schor earned an MFA in 1973 from the newly formed California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. At CalArts she came into contact with Fluxus art tactics from artist professors such as Alison Knowles and the poet Emmett Williams. Schor was actively involved in the Feminist Art Program, one of the first of its kind in the country, started by Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro. Schor fondly recalls the “goofy spirit” of the school, comparing it to the television show created by her fellow student, Paul Reubens’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. The atmosphere was “subversive but in a sweet, slightly anarchic rather than nihilistic manner.”
Teaching studio art and art history to several generations of artists has been an important component of Schor’s life as an artist. She has been an associate teaching professor of fine art at New York’s Parsons the New School for Design since 1989. Recently, she has served as a guest lecturer at the School of Visual Art’s MFA in art criticism program and a resident artist at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Over the years she has taught at many schools, including the Rhode Island School of Design—where Janine Antoni, the second CAA interviewee, was her student—Sarah Lawrence College, Vermont College, and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Schor’s solo exhibitions include Painting in the Space Where Painting Used to Be at Some Walls in Oakland in 2011, Mira Schor: Paintings from the Nineties to Now at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles in 2010, and Suddenly: New Paintings by Mira Schor at Momenta Art in Brooklyn in 2009. With Susan Bee, she founded and led the art journal M/E/A/N/I/N/G/, which was active in print between 1986 and 1996; it continues as an online publication (a twenty-fifth anniversary edition was published in late 2011). A collection of texts from this publication, titled M/E/A/N/I/N/G/: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory, and Criticism, was published in 2000. Schor is also the editor of The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
Schor has received awards in painting from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 1999, CAA recognized her writing with its Frank Jewett Mather Award. She is currently represented by CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles and by Marvelli Gallery in New York.
Stuart Horodner is artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in Georgia. He has held positions as visual arts curator at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon and director of the Bucknell University Art Gallery in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He was also a coowner of the Horodner Romley Gallery in New York. Horodner has curated numerous solo and group exhibitions and has worked with artists including Leon Golub, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Judy Linn, Melanie Manchot, William Pope.L, Kay Rosen, Joe Sola, Jessica Stockholder, and Jack Whitten.
His criticism has appeared in journals and magazines, including Art Issues, Art Lies, Art on Paper, Bomb Magazine, and Sculpture. Horodner’s new book, The Art Life: On Creativity and Career (Atlanta: Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 2012), collects statements and texts by visual artists, writers, filmmakers, and performers that address the Sisyphean task of sustaining a lifelong career in the arts. (Read an interview with Horodner about The Art Life in ArtsATL, published in March 2012.) He has served in an advisory capacity to organizations, including Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue, Creative Capital, the Ford Family Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.