The 3rd year MFA students in Carrie Ann Baade’s ART5928C Professional Practice class were lucky enough to travel to NYC last week for an educational and inspirational adventure. The students worked together to develop the idea for this trip and Samantha Burns spearheaded the itinerary. As described by Adam Williams, “while we did visit all of the heavy hitting art landmarks (you’ve got to see the James Turrell at the Guggenheim and Le Corbusier at MoMA), as well as some plain old tourist destinations, the most memorable and this-trip-specific experiences took place in the slew of studio visits, artist talks, and discussions with art writers, arranged by Carrie and her friend, Samantha Levin.”
The students visited 18 artists, museums, collectives, and galleries during their five-day trip. In one day alone, the MFAs visited a couple of performance artists in their East Williamsburg space (anyaliftig.com, panoplylab.org), two painters in their Bushwick studios (jennymorganart.com, martinwittfooth.com), and the staff of Hyperallergic (a big time art blog) in their Williamsburg office. Later in the week, between outings to the museums, openings in Chelsea, and just having an all around good time, they visited an artist’s collective workspace in the Lower East Side (conartistnyc.com), a painter in his Fort Green studio (christianrexvanminnen.com) and a painter/sculptor at his Lower East Side gallery (tedriederer.com, thelodgegallery.com). Additionally they visited the New York Book Arts Fair, ”the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines”, featuring around 300 booksellers (and about a million people), at the PS1 Contemporary Art Center (momaps1.org) in Long Island City, Queens.
While on this trip, students had the opportunity to see how professionals in varying fields of art live, work, eat, sleep, struggle, and succeed. This trip established what it means to be an artist today and established the exciting realism of being an emerging artist in New York. One of the artists the MFAs spent time with was Christian Rex Van Minnen, who lives in a studio building that was once a candy-making factory. As Brad Blair recalled, “the graduate students followed him inside the old building. They walked up a dusty and narrow staircase, three stories high, until reaching Christian’s small studio space on the top floor. Once inside, his brightly colored paintings instantly contrasted the worn buildings environment. When Christian began speaking about his pieces, the students learned that he is a prolific oil painter whose work usually begins with the traditional portrait composition or still life set up. Christian then transforms the piece in to a decaying, fles hy, flora, fauna, mixture of pieces and parts that together create a juicy, colorful finished product.”
Adam Williams summarizes that “by the end of our week, I think most of us came to the conclusion that while living in New York and keeping up with an artistic practice will require a lot of work and dedication, it is totally doable and will provide invaluable opportunities that are uniquely available in what is still America’s art center.”