See Bruce High Quality Foundation @ Teach 4 Amerika Rally Thursday

April 6, 2011 · Print This Article

“Teach 4 Amerika aims to empower artists to create the education they need and not beholden them to a system that professionalizes them out of their own specificity,” – Bruce High Quality Foundation.

Lots of buzz surrounding the arrival of The Bruce High Quality Foundation in Chicago for two related events this week. The first–a limited capacity, intimate discussion on education and the arts that will be held at Roots and Culture tonight–is already booked solid. Maybe you can still sneak in? Or peek through the windows? The next event can accommodate more bodies: BHQ’s Teach 4 Amerika Rally–billed as “a rally for anarchy in arts education”–starting at 6pm on Thursday, April 7th at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Lecture Center Room A-1, 821 South Morgan Street. These events are presented by Creative Time and hosted by Gallery 400 and Three Walls in Chicago. Below, full details; oh, and can someone snag me a t-shirt please?

Teach 4 Amerika is a five-week, 11-city, coast-to-coast road trip that
crosses state lines and institutional boundaries to inspire and enable
local art students to define the future of their own educational
experience. Traveling the byways of America in a limousine painted as a
school bus, BHQF will bring together concerned educators, artists, arts
administrators, and—most importantly—students to brainstorm on the future
of art schools.

The project calls for a national rethinking of the current art education
system, and will provide an opportunity to discuss issues facing artists
seeking an education, as well as catalyze discussions with students. The
Teach 4 Amerika tour is a rallying effort to begin this conversation on a
national scale and to encourage a new generation of students, artists, and
educators to imagine what is possible for art education in America.

Teach 4 Amerika will combine the spectacle and energy of a political rally
with the substantive dialog of a conversation series, featuring a
multimedia presentation, balloons, t-shirts, and music. In addition, on
April 6 at Roots and Culture, BHQF will also organize an intimate
conversation between students and a group of arts professionals to
transform the ideas and optimism of the rallies into real change (RSVP to
that event is required).




Notes on a Conversation: Arielle Bielak

February 25, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest post by Julia V. Hendrickson

Notes on a Conversation.

With—Arielle Bielak (Coordinator of Alumni Programs & Exhibitions at the Marwen Foundation)

In—Marwen’s classrooms and galleries, 833 N. Orleans St, Chicago, IL

Commenced—on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 7:00–7:30pm

Unless you grew up in Chicago, there is an art school in River North that you’ve probably never heard of. Marwen is a particular kind of secret, one that is kept by this city’s young people. Offering free visual art classes to underserved Chicago youth in grades 6 through 12, this non-profit organization has a mission of wide-reaching creative education. Despite its low profile along the well-trodden Chicago artways, if you are a creative person and you start to ask around, I bet you’ll find at least one person that you know who has a connection to the school.

I started assisting with classes this summer, and it is to Marwen’s credit that the educators often learn a lot there, too. The environment is incredibly supportive, and it is so rewarding to interact with young people who are actively excited about creativity, while watching creative projects unfold before your eyes. Students do projects outside of Marwen’s walls, too, such as working with artist Jan Tichy and the MCA on Project Cabrini Green: a public piece with LED lights illuminating the last days of the housing project, blinking in time to audio recordings (which will be available at the MCA), allowing young people to share stories about home, community, and public housing in Chicago.


Marwen also holds another well-kept secret; on the second floor of the building lies a contemporary art space called the Untitled gallery. Designed to connect Marwen alumni with each other and back to the school, it is also an added educational component, with an aggressive exhibition schedule and powerful presentations by contemporary local and international artists. In 2010 the gallery’s exhibits showcased radical printmakers from Oaxaca, Mexico; emerging artists from Mexico City and Chicago; contemporary fiber and sculptural works; photographs from the Ukraine and Chicago; and more.

Coming up in the Untitled gallery, the exhibit opening April 1st is a curatorial project of mine, group show called Territories. It will feature works on paper by Suzanne Caporael, Ryan Travis Christian, and B. Ingrid Olson; paintings by J. Austin Eddy, Erika Hess, and Ryan Ingebritson; sculptural work by Maria Gaspar, Jessica Taylor, Matt Nichols, Josué Pellot, and Kevin Reiswig; experimental video by Russell Weiss; zines from Anne Elizabeth Moore via Cambodia; and a performance piece by Aurora Tabar and Sara Zalek.

My friend and colleague, Arielle Bielak, is the Untitled gallery coordinator, as well as a talented photographer in her own right. She is very much the driving force behind this gallery, and I asked her to answer some questions about her life and work. [Note: all of the photographs that follow are copyright Arielle Bielak].


JH: Can you give some background on the history of the gallery and your vision, goals, and ideas for Untitled?

AB: The Untitled Gallery at Marwen, formerly known for nine years as the Alumni Gallery, shed its Title in 2010. The whole shift is a culmination of years of hard work and relationship building with alumni, art educators, artists and curators. Its main inspirations are the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Antonia Contro, Sadie Woods, and the Arts Club of Chicago. The gallery is as unique as the building and community that it holds. It is due for a logo treatment and slick neon sign at its entrance.

My choices in artists and co-curators in 2010 were pretty intuitive, steeped with international aesthetics, microcontroller technology, and a sense of wonder. The whole run was organized around a Marwen sensibility of gallery education, a huge commitment to engage students and alumni at several levels, and a deep desire to manifest the art of social justice and the social justice of art.

2011 is moving forward with all of the direction of 2010, but there is a greater collaboration with other staff and programs in the Untitled space.


JH: Can you chart a brief trajectory about how you got to Marwen?

AB: I migrated to Chicago from New York via Virginia after an intensive yearlong stint working in the Big Apple Circus. I knew instinctively that I needed to get myself to Chicago, and settle directly in the middle of this big-ass country that I had bi-coastally divided and tangentially traversed for six years. Chicago was a dual return and a beginning. Marwen was the embodied trifecta of professional, personal, and creative desires I held in 2005. I did a lot of physical labor to allow myself to stay long enough in Chicago to meet the job of my dreams, and as it turns out, the marriage of Marwen, Chicago, and me was a powerful catalyst. I sit here today as a born again Chicagoan, and a self-proclaimed artist. This was not something that I had the proper huevos to declare before 2007. I believe in what I am doing here and everywhere I go. This is a magical and powerful home base.


JH: What kind of work were you making before you got to Marwen?

AB: A three year stint doing photo and installation work with Deadline Projects was nearly neck in neck with my relationship with Marwen. Walking into Marwen’s front door I was making stuff that was strongly influenced by a Miami aesthetic, and infused by an Etsy and glitchy nerdtech aesthetic. This is of course thanks to the other artists in the collective. What does that translate as literally? BIG photos. Narrative. Humor. Dressing up my dad and sister as the Anglo god and Satan, respectively, and putting them into a hotel room bed. Pressing a shutter. Gold leaf crutches.

Even FURTHER before, if you want to know, I wasn’t really making art as much as I was traveling around with a death grip on the body of an AE-1 that my dad gave me in the early 1990s. Later it was a Nikon D70 that I gave myself when I was 20. I pressed those shutters thousands of times around the people and musicians from the Warped Tour and Take Action Tour who were there alongside me trying to cope with and raise awareness around depression and suicide.

In the circus it was a similar story. I was going for anything that moved in the circus with that D70. I didn’t share much of any of that work with a public audience other than bragging about the circus a lot.

I’m sure that all of this was influenced by the time i spent in Florence in 2001 as a terrified art student abroad during the whole debacle of 9/11. How can I explain this time? People around me were setting miniature radios into jello molds and calling it art, while I convinced my TA and best friend to do my sculptural bidding for me as I stood there shocked and speechless.


JH: How has your work evolved since being at Marwen? Is it impossible to make work when other creative people surround you, or when you’re in an educational capacity?

AB: Nice question, Julia. You know it’s hard.

It is also paradoxically the most supportive environment in my universe. Go figure.

I find that the overwhelming amount of artists in my life force me to draw on my memories and photos from the past in order to find paradox. It also pushes me into the role of curator, and then further into the role of producer. I am drawn to the most powerful, dedicated and radical voices among the artists who approach me as an advocate of their vision. I seek out different experiences in my limited spare time. I seek out architects and free Spanish classes. I seek out Mexico City. I look into microscopes. I curate the artistic energy that I find all around me into elaborate and spontaneous happenings in my personal time.

Evolution? In my own mind, my creativity moves as a more fluid, performative, and elegant animal than ever before. My formative beginnings are less pronounced, and more sublime, embedded. I am myself. I am not concerned as much with being inauthentic. I am all of my thirty years, and more.

JH: How do you sustain communication with Marwen alumni, and keep a network of all of the working artists out there? Do you see yourself tapped into a unique contemporary art scene? Do Marwen alums network and organize as twenty and thirty year olds?

AB: If Marwen had a soul, that soul is the confluence of the individual and the greater artistic spirit. Alumni are the proof, the echo, the rhythm of that phenomenon. It is my honor and pleasure to learn how to converse with those who continue to feel connected and inspired by Marwen. It is my challenge to reach out to those who are doing great things and have not reconnected. I do this strategically and organically. I talk to people all the time. I talk and I listen. I email and I collaborate. I support and am supported.

Lately, I have been in awe of the possibilities that our new website promises for alumni in particular, and I can’t wait to move into this new and exciting mode of communication with more of Marwen’s former students. I can see clearly that more alumni will reconnect with each other, their own artistic practice, scholarship, job and exhibition opportunities.

And, yes, of course people network as twenty and thirty year olds. Some do it completely naturally, based on long-established bonds that I could never fully understand. Others come to me looking to help them reconnect with old friends. I’m also planning a pretty promising alumni reunion and exhibition this August.

This artistic universe, at which Marwen is the center, is completely unique, and 90% of every person who experiences this place understands this. You simply cannot find another place in this time and space that establishes such a fluidity of learning and artistic expression across generations, experience, and discipline. The work here isn’t being made or shown anywhere else. Art is always the queen.

—————————————

ABOUT:

Julia V. Hendrickson is a native of eastern Ohio who lives and works as a visual artist, writer, and curator in Chicago, Illinois. In 2008 she graduated with a B.A. in Studio Art and a minor in English from The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio). Julia is currently the gallery manager at Corbett vs. Dempsey, as well as the office manager and design assistant for Ork Posters. She is a teaching assistant at the Marwen Foundation, an active member of the Chicago Printers Guild, and has taught at Spudnik Press. A freelance art critic and writer for Newcity, Julia also keeps a blog called The Enthusiast, a documentation of the daily things that inspire, intrigue, and inform. She is currently exhibiting at Anchor Graphics (Columbia College Chicago) in a solo show titled FANTASTIC STANZAS, on view through March 26th.




College Art Association Quantifies the Economic Downturn

February 9, 2010 · Print This Article

The CAA which holds it’s yearly conference in Chicago is this weekend and to give a face to the economic downturn (and nightmares to every newly minted MFA looking for a teaching position) they realesed a report detailing the decline in positions from FY2008 to FY2009. In short we are talking almost a 38% decline across the board.

Ceramics & Fiber continue the steepest decline posting around 40% and Sculpture/Installation/Environmental Art posts a surprising growth of 125%. Art History continues to be the most resistant to overall change but still shows growth in Asian studies at the limited expense of Modernism/20th Century American Art.

More detailed data (including state by state breakdowns) and the entire report can be seen here

Studio Art FY09 FY08
Any 629 1,005
Graphic/Industrial/Object 185 246
Digital/Media/Animation 150 220
Drawing/Printmaking/Paper 96 130
Sculpture/Installation/Environmental Art 92 99
Ceramics/Metals/Fiber 89 92
Photography 85 143
Art Education 73 90
Film/Video 70 89
Foundations 59 90



Liberal Arts for the 21st Century

July 22, 2009 · Print This Article

nla-book-cover

What general forms of knowledge are most important for people to have today? What fields of study have become irrelevant? Are there emerging areas of human inquiry that warrant greater (or even just some) inclusion in today’s institutions of higher education?

These are some of the questions asked by Robin Sloane, Matt Thompson, and Tim Carmody, the founders and contributors to Snarkmarket. They’ve collectively offered some new takes on what has increasingly been dismissed as an outdated concept–namely, a generalized “liberal arts” course of study in college or university–by crowd-sourcing answers to the question of what a “twenty-first century way of doing the liberal arts” would be.  You can read some of the initial proposals here (scroll down to the comments).

Those ideas that made the cut have been compiled into a book, co-published with Revelator Press and titled New Liberal Arts, which aims to “expand and invigorate our notions of the liberal arts.” Course proposals include “Attention Economics,” “Inaccuracy,” “Journalism,” “Food,” “Myth and Magic,” and “Genderfuck.” The book was first published in print form but is now available as a free downloadable .pdf that can be distributed and “remixed” freely.

In the spirit of the product itself, here’s a free sample: a proposal for a course on “Brevity,” written by Gavin Craig:

BREVITY

140 characters is the new 30 seconds. 30 seconds is forever.
Anything important is worth saying quickly. By the time it has been said, it is already the past, and so the saying must become a moment of its own. Brevity is urgency and modesty at once. Attention is the scarcest resource. Millions are dying and we have only seconds.
The right word is worth a thousand words.
Brevity is representation and not description.
Show and don’t tell becomes a truth and not a cliché when video can be posted instantaneously. The message must place the reader in the moment, and since the moment is unavailable, the message must place the reader in the message.

Now.
(Not then, not later. There is no later.)
This is not the victory of form over content. The stakes are much higher than that.

If you want to download a copy of New Liberal Arts now, click here.




Episode 149: Elkins on the Stone Summer Theory Institute

July 6, 2008 · Print This Article

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James Elkins
This week: First we had James Elkins and the raiders of the lost ark, then James Elkins and the temple of doom, next James Elkins and the last crusade….now.

James Elkins and the crystal something-or-other.

No, no, But James Elkins is back to talk with Duncan about the Stone Summer Theory Institute, the Art Phd. and why your sorry ass is going to be in school forever.
Stone Summer Theory Institute at SAIC: What Is an Image?

From July 13-19, the second annual Stone Summer Theory Institute at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will present a forum for some of the world’s foremost art theoreticians to address unsolved issues in the field.

This year’s Institute is focused on three fundamental questions: What is the nature of the visual? What are images? What are pictures?

A combination of public events and private discussions, the Summer Theory Institute invites fifteen young scholars to explore issues in art conceptualization with renowned international scholars, artists, and authors, this year including Gottfried Boehm, W.J.T. Mitchell, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, and Marie-Jose Mondzain.

ALSO: WEST COAST PEOPLE READ AND OBEY!

In conjunction with “Open for Business”, Brian and Patrica will interview René de Guzman live in public at Triple Base Gallery on Thursday, July 10th at 5:00 PM. The raw interview will then be posted to the site as that week’s show.

René de Guzman is the senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California. Previously, he was the director of visual arts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA).
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