Art Criticism and Writing | MFA Program

Monday September 30th, 2013
Filed under Fall 2013, News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty Member Susan Bee in group show at Ortega y Gasset Projects

Ortega y Gasset Projects Presents:


Susan Bee, Brian Scott Campbell, Lucy Kim, Pat McElnea, and Emily Janowick
Organized by Karla Wozniak
September 28, 2013 – October 26, 2013

The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life’s major mysteries.Iris Murdoch

Ortega y Gasset Projects is pleased to present The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, an exhibition organized by Karla Wozniak comprising artworks by Susan Bee, Lucy Kim, Brian Scott Campbell, Pat McElnea, and Emily Janowick. The exhibition is inspired by the Iris Murdoch novel of the same name—a psychologically rich tale of characters caught in a complex web of emotional and sexual experiences. Similarly, the artworks in this exhibition negotiate intimate, charged situations. The pieces tell stories of love, heartache, and orgiastic ecstasy.

Susan Bee’s paintings of couples, based on film-noir stills, are tinged with emotion and melodrama. Her simplified figures, rendered with saturated color and exuberant patterns, are engaged in interactions nearing emotional climax. The figures in Brian Scott Campbell’s detailed pencil drawings of Grecian urns and ancient statuary have come to life. These classical nude motifs are animated into a cartoonish bacchanal of humor and sexual whimsy. Lucy Kim casts the faces of real couples, including her husband and herself, to make her 3D portraits. Distorted through the mold-making and casting process, then painted with cryptic images associated with sexiness, these surreal objects seem descended from Egyptian burial masks. Patrick McElnea’s frenetic paintings investigate skin—both human skin and the physical skin of oil paint. The evocative surfaces and tangle of body parts in these paintings suggest we are witnessing sexual intimacy in progress. Emily Janowick’s small assemblage sculptures show a fluency in formal relationships of color and material surface. Yet what at first seem like simply playful objects on second glance become improvised sexual paraphernalia.

As a group, the works brought together in this show deliver a potent cocktail of emotion and sexuality. One can think of art as a love triangle—a three-way relationship between artist, art object, and viewer. Each corner of the triangle is strong willed, yet precarious. The artworks in this show revel in this confusing terrain, which exists between cerebral, emotional, and physical experience.

Sunday September 22, 2013
Filed under Events, Fall 2013, News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty Member Lucy Raven: Sunday Session at MoMA PS1

Image Employment – Overtime
Lune The Center

MoMA PS1 Sunday Session
Sunday, September 29, 2013
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

This event reflects on the works presented in Image Employment with talks by artists Lucy Raven and Michael Bell Smith, as well as the curators Aily Nash and Andrew Norman Wilson.

Lucy Raven’s takes her work China Town and delves into an exploration of Hollywood’s outsourcing to post-production houses overseas. Michael Bell Smith discusses his work, De-Employed in relation to post-production and his working process with aftereffects templates, and the readymade effect.

Saturday September 21, 2013
Filed under Alumni, Events, Fall 2013, News, News, Events and Alumni

Alumna Kara Rooney in group show at Hot Wood Arts

Hot Wood Arts Gallery Opening:
Communication Breakdown

Works by:
Anna Alfredson
Alison Dilworth
Kara Rooney

Curated by:
Megan Suttles

Opening Reception
September 21st, 1-6 pm

Show Dates:
September 21st – October 20th
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 pm and by appointment

Saturday September 21, 2013
Filed under Events, Fall 2013, News

SVA Faculty at the 2013 NY Art Book Fair

The NY Art Book Fair Conference @ MoMA PS1

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Fluid Dynamics: Pedagogy in the Expanded Field
This year’s session on pedagogy features three educators whose methodology involves taking on the increasingly fluid roles of maker, teacher, librarian, curator, and/or critic. Panelists: Trinie Dalton, artist, teacher, curator, SVA; Jen Bervin, MFA Program in Writing, Vermont College of Fine Arts; and Munro Galloway, artist, SVA and Yale University. Moderator: Jennifer Tobias, MoMA Library.

Thursday October 3, 2013
Filed under Events, Fall 2013, News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty Member Ann Lauterbach Reads From New Book “Under the Sign”

192 Books
192 10th Ave at 21st Street, NYC
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Ann Lauterbach is one of America’s most innovative and provocative poets, acclaimed for her fierce, sensuous and intellectually charged poems.  In this, her ninth book of poems, Lauterbach pursues longstanding inquiries into how language forms and informs our understanding of the relation between empirical observation and subjective response; worldly attachment and inwardness; the given and the chosen. The poems set out not so much to find cogent resolutions to these fluid dyads as to open them to the fact of unknowing that is at the core of all human curiosity and desire. A central prose section tracks along a meditative edge, engaging the risky task of opening the mind to the limits of apprehension; the final section evokes, in the figure of the instructor, the essential contemporary question of how information becomes knowledge.

Wednesday September 18, 2013
Filed under Events, Fall 2013, News, News, Events and Alumni


The Poetry Project
at St. Mark’s Church | 131 E. 10th Street, NYC
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
8:00 pm
Paul Maliszewski is the author of Fakers (The New Press), a book of essays, and Prayer and Parable (Fence Books), a collection of stories. He has published essays in Harper’s, Granta, and Bookforum, among other magazines. Lynne Tillman’s most recent book is Someday This Will Be Funny, her fourth collection of stories. Her most recent novel was American Genius, A Comedy. Tillman is currently working on a novel titled Men And Apparitions and hopes to finish it soon-ish. In January 2014, her second essay collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do? will be published by Richard Nash’s Red Lemonade Press. She writes a bi-monthly column, “In These Intemperate Times,” for Frieze magazine.

Friday May 10th, 2013
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2013

What Is Art Criticism, And Why Do We Need It?

By Peter Simek

May 7th, 2013 12:12pm

A few weeks ago I participated in a panel about art criticism at CentralTrak, the latest in the UT Artist Residency’s Next Topic discussion series. The conversation was at moments illuminating, at others disheartening. The largest disappointment for me was that we did not clearly mark out in the course of our conversation just what the value of arts criticism is, both to art in general, but also to its role in developing and deepening the work of artists locally.

That’s why I wanted to point to this article from the Brooklyn Rail that was written a year ago by David Levi Strauss, who now heads the MFA graduate program in Art Criticism & Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York. If you are interested in art, his entire piece is necessary reading. It carefully outlines the relationship between the art object and the words written about it, while highlighting some recent attitudinal trends. These include the tendency among some of his students to seek “protection” from the experience of art behind a critical methodology (which he rightly holds is an altogether different thing than criticism), as well as the belief among artists that criticism is unnecessary — or an attitude which too easily accepts the substitution of the market for criticism as the only means by which a work of art is evaluated.

This situation of artists “being rated only by price,” Strauss argues, results from a devaluation of criticism.

Among other things, criticism involves making finer and finer distinctions among like things. If criticism is devalued, artists and curators have no other choice in the current crisis of relative values but to heed the market’s siren song.

For local artists, this situation should be concerning, particularly because for the vast majority (I could say all, but for three or four exceptions) their art work does not come into contact with the market. Even for local artists who sell work through galleries and have a decent number of committed collectors who buy their work locally, the difficulty of establishing secondary market value for artists working in a city like Dallas inhibits the possibility of market value growth of any artist’s work (which in most cases means the inhibiting of a sustained career as a working artist). In other words, Dallas’ irrelevance as a city where art is made is directly related to the locale’s insufficient market provenance. Irrelevant, that is, only in so far as the market is concerned.

Criticism, therefore, is of paramount importance in a city like Dallas precisely because it creates a place for a work of art to mean, irrelevant of market forces. Or, as Strauss puts it:

[Art] needs something outside of itself as a place of reflection, discernment, and connection with the larger world. Art for art’s sake is fine, if you can get it. But then the connection to the real becomes tenuous, and the connection to the social disappears. If you want to engage, if you want discourse, you need criticism.

What I like about this sentence is not just how it describes the role of criticism in establishing the relation between a work of art and society, but also that in the description Strauss lays out the criteria for arts writing that can be accurately called “criticism.” On the CentralTrak panel, the question was raised whether or not critics should write negative reviews, and a few of the participants said they don’t have the time or interest to write about “bad art.” In light of Strauss’ comments, however, the question itself seems miss-framed at best, idiotic at worst. Even reviews that seem to disparage the quality of a work of art can’t be called “negative” precisely because they should be an attempt to extrapolate a work of art’s implication for — and relation to — the larger world. A review that argues that a particular work of art does not adequately or effectively bear relation or significance to society is positive in that it elucidates those shortcomings both for the viewer and the artist. For critics to say they don’t write “negative” reviews is the same thing as a critic saying they don’t write criticism.

Dallas doesn’t have enough art critics, but then no place could be said it has enough critics of any sort, particularly these days. Because of criticism’s role in connecting a work of art to public discourse, there is always a need for more and more varied perspectives on this relationship. But Dallas is perhaps worse off in terms of art criticism than many other places (I couldn’t say this, however, about the state of local theater criticism, classical music criticism, and even, perhaps, pop music criticism). The problem is, in part, that there just aren’t enough people writing criticism. The other frustration is that many publications treat visual art as a kind of creative phenomenon, and not the starting point of critical dialogue. The art work is treated as a kind of artifact of creative intent. The personality of the artist (or their fashion sense) is of more interest than the art. Creativity is celebrated, creative enthusiasm is embraced as an end in itself. We want to “support” art and artists like we would a child in a youth sporting event, in which the effort and the fun is the point and the game is of no consequence. Thus there is a tendency to champion anything that is merely presented, anyone who slaps a painting on a wall, or locks themselves in a box, or declares the fruit of their solitary doodling “art.”

This is one of the challenges to arts criticism in Dallas. It stems from an attitude shared by some artists, arts supporters, writers, and editors that implicitly suggests that critical friction is a negative force on forward progress. It is a rejection, as Strauss puts it, of one the very intentions and consequences of artistic practice.

I used to think that the plight of criticism was to be always the lover, never the beloved. Criticism needs the art object, but the art object doesn’t need criticism. Now I agree with Baudelaire: “It is from the womb of art that criticism was born.” Artists who disparage criticism are attacking their own progeny, and future.

Thursday January 1, 1970
Filed under Events, News, News, Events and Alumni

Call for Proposals and Projects: Critical Information Graduate Student Conference

Hosted by the MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing

at the School of Visual Arts, New York City, December 1, 2013

Proposals due June 30, 2013 to email hidden; JavaScript is required

Critical Information is an interdisciplinary graduate student conference, which provides a platform to assess current scholarship and research at the intersection of art, media, and society. Critical Information is particularly interested in engaging both collaborative and individual papers or projects that address the following issues: Art and Social Theory, Philosophy and Media, Mediated Image Making, the Work of Art in the Information Age, Media and Memory, Identity and Representation in the Mediated Environment, Mediated Intercultural Exchange, Media Excess, and the History and Future of the Image, and more. All themes pertaining to the juncture of media, theory, society and the visual arts will be considered.

Open to all current graduate students and those who have received a graduate degree within the last year, Critical Information is sponsored by the MFA Art Criticism & Writing Department at the School of Visual Arts.

Submission Requirements:

Name, School, Department Affiliation, Academic Status

Phone Number, Email Address

Title of Paper or Project

Abstract including thesis statement and main argument. 100-150 words

Please submit the above information and your abstract within the body of an email. No attached word documents.

Important Dates:

Abstract Deadline: June 30, 2013

Decision Email: September 30, 2013

Paper Deadline; November 1, 2013

Conference Date: December 1, 2013

Wednesday April 24th, 2013
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni

Chair of MFA Art Crit, David Levi Strauss for Time Lightbox

Wednesday April 24th, 2013
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty Member Trinie Dalton reviews Urs Fischer for the NY Times Blog

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