This season at the School of Art, Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts Sharon Louden has worked to create a collaborative, multidisciplinary learning environment that encourages interaction with the rest of the Institution. The school’s final week is no exception.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 6 and Friday, August 9 in the Hultquist Center, all 37 students and emerging artists will participate in the first Chautauqua School of Art Student and Emerging Artists Presentations.
Rather than ask the artists to speak about their own practices, Louden wanted to extend the school’s collaborative atmosphere by having each student and emerging artist speak on the work of a peer. They will present back to back, with half presenting tonight, and half on Friday.
“I thought it would be a generous act,” Louden said. “It would be so wonderful for someone to be able to professionally share another person’s work.”
Louden said this is an opportunity for Chautauquans to observe how artists interact with one another and gain insight into their diverse practices.
“We have such an accomplished group of artists that are presenting,” she said. “It’s just an amazing chance to hear different points of view.”
For some, this project is a challenge to play around with the traditional presentation format.
Lauren Fueyo is a recent graduate of the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. She will be presenting on the work of Logan Schulman, who studied at New College of Florida.
She plans to make her presentation into something like a performance piece, which will include Schulman.
“My basic idea is that I will wear a curly wig that’s like Logan’s hair and he will be my arms, and he will get to marionette for me,” Fueyo said.
She wanted to find a creative way to keep Schulman in the discussion about his work.
“We have to have fun with it, because I can’t do Logan’s work more justice than he can,” she said. “We’re given the prompt, ‘present on another artists’ work’ — that could be anything. So, if we don’t find a way to make it useful for ourselves, that’s kind of on us.”
Schulman’s presentation on Fueyo’s work will be more conventional, but he said observing her practice has caused him to think about his own work differently.
“Her work is (both) hilarious and grief-stricken, and the way that she makes those things live together is pretty bonkers,” he said. “My work is very heavy, all the time. I’m a humorous person, (but) my work often is not in that place. … Thinking about how mirthful Lauren’s work is while still being able to capture that essence of heft has been incredibly inspiring.”
He is excited for Chautauquans to see the presentations.
“It will be great to have people there to see the work, to see who we are (and what) we have learned about one another,” Schulman said. “That’s a huge part of it, that’s why we’re not just presenting on ourselves.”
Danqi Cai recently earned her bachelor’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She will be presenting on the work of Jonathan Hernandez, who is earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Presenting on a peer’s work is a new experience for Cai.
“In the past, whenever I wrote or presented on another’s work, it was usually a famous artist who I’d never really talked to,” Cai said. “I just learned about (them) in class or through my research.”
Cai and Hernandez didn’t know each other very well before they started working together this season in Hrag Vartanian’s arts writing class. Cai assumed they wouldn’t have much in common.
“Me and John, you will see we’re very, very different people and artists,” she said. “Even then, the longer we talked, the more connections that I establish(ed) between his art-making and my art-making. … That’s something really powerful for me.”
Cai said she doesn’t know what Hernandez will focus on in his presentation of her work, and sees this project as an important learning opportunity.
“For me, it’s liberating to not have to present (my) own work,” she said. “I’m excited about learning about other people’s work through a different lens. … I can learn how I’m being perceived, and I think that will be very valuable.”