The alternative art school movement


“Back to school” sounds good to children (who get to see their friends every day again) and to their parents (who get to not see their children for a number of hours every week day), but adults often find that their own schooling – say, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree – can be a hassle, what with the job, the kids, the cost of tuition, moving. Tuition for an MFA in sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art currently runs $43,760 for a full year (and it is a two-and-a-half year program), and then there are a range of required and optional fees, and we haven’t even gotten to food and accommodations. The low-residency MFA in studio art at the college is exactly half the cost of the full-time rate, which may be more palatable but still a big chunk of change. Continue reading

Dawn MacNutt: Resisting the Monumental


Dawn MacNutt, Columns, twined willow

You know how often I reference the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in my blogs? A lot, actually, in part indicative of my familiarity with and respect for the institution (having lived and worked in Halifax for a number of years, and having curated and written about a number of its faculty and graduates). But mainly it’s indicative of the importance of the place; in the late1960s artist and teacher Garry Neill Kennedy utterly transformed a staid, provincial art school into a veritable power house that came to have international prominence. Conceptualism became indelibly linked with the institution, and even departments traditionally considered realms of “craft” (like weaving and ceramics) felt, even embraced, its impact. NSCAD is long past its heyday when it was arguably considered the best art school in the world (perhaps exemplified in John Baldessari’s lithographic print I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, done at NSCAD in the early 1970s), but the reverberations of what happened half-a-century ago continue to shape its path as it struggles for survival and relevance in the 21st century. Continue reading

Toxic Seas


Institute For Figuring’s Crochet Coral Reef project, 2005–ongoing. Photo courtesy of the Institute For Figuring

Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s coral reef crocheted project has been shown all over the world, but the current exhibition of their work and that of their many worldwide collaborators at Museum of Art and Design’s Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas show is one of the best that I’ve seen. Continue reading

All that Glitters


Radiant Efflorescence 831 26″ x 22″ x 22,” copper, sterling silver, 23-karat gold leaf. Courtesy of the artist

Metalworker David Huang refers to his works as “vessels,” but it’s little wonder people also call them “treasures.”  On first sight, it’s hard to know what to call them; technically, they’re indeed metallic vessels, but it’s inconceivable that they would ever actually be used.  Their interiors, after all, are lined with 23 karat gold.    They’re indisputably beautiful, but the statement they make isn’t just visual. Continue reading

Dolores Casares- Bordar en el espacio


(Detail) Sin titulo – hilos de naylon sobre papel de algodon 100×70 cm

Dolores Casares trabaja las esculturas y las instalaciones poniendo en diálogo distintos lenguajes visuales, siempre pensando en el espacio y el volumen, estableciendo juegos ópticos y cinéticos, apelando a la trama propia del textil y hasta evocando una estética abstracta cuasi minimalista en la resolución simple y elegante de las obras así como en los materiales utilizados. La línea tiene una fuerte presencia en cualquiera de sus formas: dibujada en el acrílico, trazada por los hilos de nylon en el espacio o directamente sobre el papel. También la luz se destaca porque no es usada como recurso para jerarquizar la obra sino que es inherente a ella, haciéndola emerger del aparente vacio. Continue reading

Landlords are not currently collecting rent in self-love


Installation View, 2016.

In the 1993 film, Falling Down, Michael Douglas plays an engineer who suffers a psychotic breakdown while stuck in traffic trying to get to his daughter’s birthday party. He abandons his car on the freeway and proceeds to stalk through Los Angeles on foot, trying desperately to “go home,” while steadily encountering the flotsam and jetsam of the early 90’s recession years on the American West Coast. Among other things, the film is a meditation on crisis, the postulation of a society in decline. Continue reading

Jes Fan in their Studio: The Miracle of Gender

Jes Fan Sculpture

Jes Fan, Testosoap

Hurry to Jes Fan’s studio at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) to see the wonders they have been creating between October and January.¹ ⁺ ²  If you like, return February 27 – April 9 to see their exhibition in MAD’s Project Room and plan to see their show at Vox Populi in May/June. Even after my second visit, there was too much to see in the small MAD studio where Fan is a Van Lier Fellow. As I look around, I admire their play with materials, contradictions, and ideas about identity politics, including gender and race. The pink and black barbells and weights are light instead of heavy, twisted or curving instead of straight. Jes is making hanging sculptures out of soybeans, the miracle bean that was a food staple in China since 2800 B.C.  One soybean-encapsuled object is shaped like adrenal glands, which secrete the body’s hormones. A silicone slab form with embedded soybeans is setting in its mold. As Fan lifts it, they relate, “Silicone is a bodily material that stays wet physically.” Nearby two hairbrushes lie sideways, a long swirl of black hair (instead of bristles) connecting the two handles.

Continue reading