Tag Archives: New York

Scenes From Around Town: Laurie Anderson Talks Spirituality

Mark C. Taylor, Laurie Anderson, Irving Sandler and Gregory Amenoff talk art and spirituality at Columbia University. February 10, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

It was a hard decision to make.  Do I miss going to the Metropolitan Museum and mingling with all of you amazing CAA Conference attendees or do I indulge my love for new media and performance by seeing Laurie Anderson speak at Columbia University?  It was hard, but I ultimately realized that I may never get this chance again so I headed over to Columbia University to hear the artist talk.

Thursday evening Columbia’s School of the Arts partnered with the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life to present Refiguring the Spiritual with 1972 alumna Laurie Anderson.  Art historian Irving Sandler, Chair of the Visual Arts Program Gregory Amenoff and Chair of the Department of Religion Mark C. Taylor eventually joined Anderson on stage for a conversation about her work and the ways in which it flirts with the spiritual, invisible, subversive and unknown.

Laurie Anderson discusses her garden proposal. February 10, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

Anderson started off alone on the stage, taking about her experience as Artist In Residence at NASA and the first time she was invited to design an interactive, multi-media garden.   As you can imagine, Anderson was a very dynamic and humorous speaker–often getting laughs from the audience when recalling her memories of these challenging and enlightening moments in her career that took her from solid ground to the far-reaching, often unfathomable corners of the universe.

Once the other three joined her on stage for a conversation it was still dominated by Anderson, which was fine with me.  My issue with the discussion was not only the lack of true conversation between speakers, but it also seemed to be in a constant state of tug-of-war between her current beliefs as a Buddhist who tries to live in the moment and “see things as they are”, her Christian upbringing and the Christian-dominated comments and questions.  Although I felt that there was a certain something missing from the equation of the group on the stage, there were several great moments from the talk where Anderson gave insights that I will be packing in my suitcase and taking with me to Chicago.  Here are a few:

“I, in many ways, don’t know a lot about art, what it’s for, who it’s made for, what it’s doing.  I do know that I don’t think it’s to make the world a better place because it seems like such a 19th Century concept.  If you do think that as an artist, as a working artist, then you have to ask yourself, ‘Better for who?’.  For you?  For me? For the people over there who are analyzing what it is?”

“It is the frightening and fantastic feeling that this is all there is…” – Laurie Anderson discusses the joys and fears found in meditation and living in the moment

“Art is sensual.  What if you experienced art so intensely that artists didn’t have to make things?”  - Laurie Anderson discussing what art could be hundreds of years from now

Posted in New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Not Homesick Yet: Finding Chicago Art in New York

The CAA Conference offers many reasons to get excited. The amount of information and art combined with the excellent list of people presenting it–that alone is more than enough to bring out the geek in any art historian. Add the fact that the conference is held in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world and you’ll end up with a sensory explosion.

The task I have challenged myself to during my time in New York is not only to attend most of the sessions I am interested in, but also venture out to other places. I started yesterday during a late night studio visit with Columbia University MFA candidate, Chicago native and friend Caitlin Cherry. Sometimes it is nice to see the things on the opposite end of art history—the history in the making. For me, being at the Columbia University studios and then coming to the conference provides a balance between past, present and future.

In the Studio with Columbia University MFA Candidate Caitlin Cherry. February 8, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

What I love most about Cherry is that throughout her undergrad at the School of the Art Institute and now at Columbia University, she has stood firm for her love of painting. In an age of new media it takes a certain amount of courage to do that, in my opinion.

Reclining on Baroque Couch (Portrait of Mayor Richard M. Daley), 36 x 48 inches, acrylic gouache and oil on canvas, 2011. (Image: Courtesy of the artist)

At Cherry’s studio I got to see works in progress, including a very timely portrait of Mayor Richard M. Daley that she has been working on. In case you have not had a chance to catch up on your Chicago politics, the Windy City art community has been preparing for a big switch of administration from Chicago’s decades as a Daley-run city. The art community, which Daley’s reign has proved beneficial for in many ways, is doing what it can to let the incoming administration know that the arts are important in Chicago, and we will be heard. (See Mayoral Meet & Greet by Chicago Urban Arts Society or Arts Power Chicago).

The other places outside of the conference I plan on stopping at include the David Hammons show at L&M Arts, Dawoud Bey’s Harlem U.S.A. show at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Ellen Gallagher show at Gagosian Gallery.  See you there?

Posted in New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Notes From Seat 16A

Detail of Plane Ticket to 2011 CAA Conference. February 8, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

My flight was a little delayed. Even so, what has been on my mind while preparing for the CAA Conference has been mainly two things: 1.) What is there to learn from last year’s CAA Blog experience, and 2.) How can I clone myself between now and Laguardia so that I can make it to every session and every event of the conference that I want to go to?

While everyone was focused on the Super Bowl, I was focused on plotting out my strategy for the conference. Similarly, as the Packers and Steelers were making game plans, so was I. It looks like we art scholars have more in common with athletes after all.

Some of the panels I am having the most difficult time deciding between for Wednesday are the following:

  • Nation Building: The Politics of Space in the African City
  • The Aesthetics of Sonic Spaces
  • Oral Histories and the Archive
  • Gender and Sexuality in the Art Museum
  • High Heels and Leather Masks: When Fetish Becomes Art and Art Becomes Life
  • Recurating: New Practices in Exhibition Making
  • Interdependent Identity: Paradigm and Paradox in Contemporary Israeli and Palestinian Art

…and that’s just the first day. So, how do you be everywhere at once? If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one on the run.

Posted in Sessions | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off