Category Archives: Photos

Sanjit Sethi likes his community.

Born in Rochester, New York, Sanjit Sethi has done a residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, as well as earned a master of science in advanced visual studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Visual Arts Program in 2002. His work consistently deals with issues of nomadism, identity, the residue of labor, memory, and movement in the urban sphere—all of which involve various disparate social and geographic communities.

Having completed a Fulbright Fellowship in India on the Building Nomads Project, Sanjit continued his strong focus on interdisciplinary collaboration while director of the MFA Program at the Memphis College of Art. His dedication to diverse forms of artistic practice extends in his new position as California College of the Art’s chair of Community Arts Program, and Co-Director of CCA’s Center for Art and Public Life.

Sanjit’s current work includes a collaborative project titled, Urban Defibrillation, the Gypsy Bridge Project, and the Kuni Wada Bakery.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA? Any there any particular panel or sessions you are interested in seeing?

Sanjit Sethi:  I have attended several panels. There was a panel about the role of museum education; I am interested in the subject itself. There was also the African cities panel. It was about how do we view a city, in this case, from an architectural and urban development standpoint, it was really interesting. I attended a community arts project panel, tying to see different methodologies other than my own. I am really interested in questions. Any mission statement I have for the operations of my individual practice and the work I do through the college revolves around addressing a specific question. I am not here, necessarily, to somehow absorb the conference in its entirety and expect that the light will finally flicker. But rather to see what other questions that people bring up and how they are actively and dynamically working on those questions. I also use this as an opportunity to reconnect with people, which is just as important as anything, whether it is colleagues or former students, just to see what it is going on. I do have concerns whether I did a good enough job, was I good at whatever it was I was doing? So, it good to reconnect and see what the students have been up to.

DB: Can you talk about your experiences of interviewing at CAA?

SS: I did not interview at CAA for my first teaching job, it was an instance where I sent in a packet after someone had abruptly left and I got the position. But, I have interviewed in the “room.” It was probably the most unpleasant experience I have ever been through, there is the institutional lighting, you can hear the hum of the sodium lights. It is kind of like doing a prep walk as well. I am having flashbacks being with you here in this lobby.

One year while the conference was in New York, which I can chuckle about now, while still teaching at MCA, I had three interviews. Generally, you meet the person at the prescribed time in the lobby and go up to the hotel room, which is great and how it should be. For one of those interviews I remember, to my horror, that the institution wanted to meet around the corner. So I meet them around the corner. As I was walking by, my current boss at the time, was sitting there, not fifteen feet away, interviewing someone for another position. During the entire interview I was totally unnerved, I blew that interview. It was a fiasco.

DB: Can you explain your role at the California College of the Arts?

SS: I wear three hats at CCA. I am a tenure track faculty member, I teach in the in the Community Arts Program, which I chair, I am also the Director of the Center for Art and Public Life. Originally, I was just a tenure track faculty member and to chair the Community Arts Program, six months later, I was asked to be the Director of the Center for Art and Public life, which I thought would be an interesting opportunity. It has a great history of engaging the public and working on issues of social justice, racism, diversity issues and sustainability. It has been really exciting.

DB: What type of projects are you working on with the Center? And how do you come up with the projects?

SS: The role I play as Director, is certainly parallel ideologically to the work I do with my individual practice. The Center for Art and Public life evolves around the question, “How can an institution of higher education that is devoted to creativity utilize the brain trust of its students and faculty to address areas of critical, cultural, social, geographic, and economic needs we see within local, national and global communities?” What I am able to do is have a role inventing and crafting programs that try to best address this meta-question. Right now, we actually trimmed our sails to running three programs. These three programs have implications across the college, and ideally, across communities. One of the curricular projects is “Engage at CCA” which is basically how we support faculty members to adapt their own curriculum to collaborate with a community partner, to address the learning outcomes they have with that course. For example, a furniture design class builds tables for a local charter school that cannot afford tables. The Center has a great history of working with community partners that were built with the efforts of my predecessors. I am able to take advantage of these partnerships and the great reputation that the Center has in the Bay area, especially with the non-profit and education communities. It is also about forging new partnerships as well. We just launched an initiative called “The Impact Social Entrepreneurship Award.” We graciously received start-up funding to create an interdisciplinary award program where we ask students to come up with projects in collaboration with a community partner. They have to find that partner and seek a letter of support from that partner for a project, for example, the students talk with an after school program and that school really needs a collapsible performance stage. This proposal will come from students that are studying to be architects, industrial designers, and maybe an illustrator, the students have to come up with the project. The Center, through a really competitive selection process, will award three groups for each of the next three years, ten thousand dollars each to execute these projects. This is really exciting to have curricular based and project based learning combined with community engagement. Again, these students should ideally have their own studio practice. Not to say that everyone is all of sudden going to devote themselves to working in and for non-profits. The idea is for the students to get a well-rounded aspect of how they can assist in all these different communities. We like for the students to take their own initiative and this galvanizes the idea of independent student learning. The deadlines for the projects were yesterday, (February 11, 2011) so we will see.

DB: So, what are some of the projects you are working on for yourself?

SS: I have an ongoing series called, “Indians and Indians.” It is a personal practice reflection on the idea of hybrid identity and this artificial name we associate with an identity. I recently finished a series of flag projects creating a hybridized flag, an American Indian flag. I am also about to create American flags using only material from Indian flags. Which is a nightmare quilting project from hell. I have this beautiful hand-woven Indian flag that I am both excited and terrified about cutting into. I have also been doing a series of photographs, kind of a diptych called “Watching Indians.” I am looking at representations of Indians, both American Indians and India Indians by western cinematographers. So basically, I am watching these films on a large flat screen television, I am looking at the way they are depicting Indians for clues. I am also searching for aberrations or interpretations. So, there are these photographs, these diptychs of me staring and scrutinizing the screen itself.

DB: Well, I think that is about it. That wasn’t too bad, was it?

SS: It was the best interview I ever had.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Conferences, Interviews, New York, Photos | 1 Comment

Leslie K. Brown

Leslie K. Brown is an independent curator, scholar, and educator pursuing her PhD in Art History at Boston University.  A former curator at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, she holds an MA from the University of Texas at Austin and specializes in the history of photography.  In addition to contributing an essay for Sandi Haber Fifield’s forthcoming book, Between Planting and Picking (Charta, March 2011), Brown’s recent curatorial projects include Traces: Daniel Ranalli, Cape Work 1987-2007 (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) and Out of the Box: Photography Portfolios from the Permanent Collection (deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum).  She has taught at the Art Institute of Boston and the Rhode Island School of Design and served as an invited guest juror and reviewer for exhibitions, grants, publications, and portfolio review events.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA? Anything in particular?

Leslie K. Brown: I am a second year PhD student in art history at Boston University, specializing in the history of photography.  I attend CAA to stay current in my field and be inspired by new ideas and research.  As a practicing independent curator, I also enjoy attending both history-based and contemporary panels as well as artist interviews and talks.

DB: Do you think there are enough sessions in your field at CAA?

LKB: I would enjoy hearing more papers that engage the history of photography, but they would not necessarily have to be grouped into separate media-specific sessions.  In addition, it would be wonderful to have panels that brought together photohistorians with working photographers.

DB: Can you talk about your current research projects? How did you get interested in the subject?

LKB: Since returning to graduate school, I have been inspired by the related fields of American studies and visual culture.   For my current research, I am interested in issues of views and viewing as well as dictated viewing experiences, often in a touristic mode or mediated by some sort of device or image (real or imagined).  My recent papers include a study of the Tower coin-operated binocular viewer and viewsheds associated with artists’ historic homes and studios. This semester, I hope to work on Kodak Picture Spots and artist collectives that engage the land.  I have always been fascinated by landscape experiences and depictions as well as the history of tourism and vernacular imagery.  Perhaps this has something to do with being the product of a Kodak family!

DB: What are your plans once you finish with the Dissertation? Are there any particular things you would like to do?

LKB: I enjoy curating as well as teaching and hope to continue to do both, before and after the dissertation.  My ideal position would combine these two aspects of my background and training. In addition, I have also found that I enjoy teaching art students art history and being a part of their creative process.

DB: What is your favorite: Artist? Book? Color? Smell? And Food?

LKB: It is hard and difficult to choose! Artist: Jem Southam; Book: Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell; Color: red; Smell: the woods and rain; Food: vegetarian of all stripes.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Interviews, New York, Photos | Comments Off

Bruce Myren

170 Market Hill Road, 2009 Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Kayafas

Bruce Myren is a artist and photographer whose landscape-based work considers ideas of place and space. He holds a BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and earned his MFA in studio art from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 2009. Shown nationally, Myren has been included in group exhibitions at the Houston Center of Photography, TX; The Gallery Project, MI; and the William Benton Museum of Art, CT, among others. His latest solo exhibitions include showings at the Workspace Gallery, NE; Danforth Museum of Art, MA; and Gallery Kayafas, MA, where he is represented. The current Northeast Regional Chair of the Society of Photographic Education, Myren has taught at the University of Connecticut, New England Institute of Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA? Any particular panels, sessions, or interviews?

Bruce Myren: As an artist, I come to CAA to hear about current thinking in art, art history, and theory. I am interested in work and ideas beyond photography and find inspiration in a broad range of topics. I am currently the Chair of the Northeast region of the affiliated Society of Photographic Education (SPE) and attending CAA helps me stay connected and allows opportunities to see and meet colleagues from across the country. In addition, this year, I am also on the job market and exploring opportunities.

DB: Are the sessions CAA has for photography adequate?

BM: In general, I do think there are enough photography-related presentations. Almost all current issues in art touch photography, thus many panels concerned with contemporary issues discuss photography or light-sensitive media in some way.

DB: Can you talk a little bit about your work? Are you currently working on a particular series?

BM: My work investigates issues of place and space and boundaries and borders through the exploration and employment of various locative systems. I am most interested in how macro systems relate to micro experiences of land and landscape.  My recent series include an investigation of the Fortieth Parallel of latitude via large format photography and GPS technology; a study of the poet Robert Francis’s one-person house in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts; and a piece that documents the view from every place I have lived to where I live now.  Work can be seen on my website:

DB: Do you have any exhibitions, workshops or the like upcoming?

BM: I have an upcoming solo exhibition at Workspace Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska (March 3 – April 30, 2011),  In addition, on April 12th, I will be giving a visiting artist lecture at Kansas State University.  While on both trips, I hope to photograph six new confluences for my project “The Fortieth Parallel.”

DB: What is your favorite artist? book? color? smell? food?

BM: This is hard…! Artist: Hamish Fulton; Book: Immortality by Milan Kundera; Color: almost all colors; Smell: Ocean, fresh cut grass, and pine; Food: I like all food.

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Parallel Practices II

Images as promised and a little further explanation of the “Five Rhythms” movements. Antoni explained that each of the five movements grow out of the previous. Beginning with flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and ending with stillness, the dancer of the “Five Rhythms” puts her body in motion in order to get a greater understanding of presentness and to ground the mind back within the body.

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We are Pretty Hot

(from L to R) Joy Garnett, Charlotte Frost and Dwayne Butcher.

Here we beautiful people are at the Centennial Celebration last night at the Met. I an not wearing the blackest black, Oh well. But Charlotte is wearing a HOT HOT HOT coat.

Posted in Bloggers, Photos | 3 Comments