CAA Image: Nimesh M / Flickr

Stamps faculty, students and alumni brought a vibrant creative presence to Chicago during the recent College Art Association (CAA) conference. Whether chairing panels at the conference, or participating in shows and exhibitions across the city, our recent visit gave us a chance to reconnect with our large Chicago community and forge relationships with new friends.

At the CAA Conference:

Thursday, February 13: Stamps faculty members Holly Hughes and Irina Aristakhova chaired a CAA panel discussion on the ethical and aesthetic questions related to artists working with animals, and the tensions between keeping a strong ethical stance while engaging in exploring art issues.

In the evening, an alumni reception jointly hosted by Stamps School and Art History, brought together alums, faculty, staff and students for refreshments and conversation.

Friday, February 14: Stamps faculty Nick Tobier was part of a CAA panel discussion on new models for public engagement in art practice: With many museums now wanting work that includes audience participation, what is the difference between spectacle and transformative engagement?

Another panel, held later that day at SAIC, brought together faculty from the Stamps School and the School of the Art Institute to discuss the role of research in creative practice and art and design education. In a discussion moderated by Stamps Dean Gunalan Nadarajan, participants, including Stamps faculty Matthew Kenyon and Anne Mondro, raised provocative questions about new models and methods in art and design research. They also discussed the role of emotions and feelings, particularly, empathy in the making of art. What is the value of empathy as a way of approaching artistic problems, and finding more meaningful ways to engage socially?

Around the City: Stamps Chicago

Wednesday, February 12: Holly Hughes celebrated the release of her book edited with Una Chaudhuri, Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (University of Michigan Press) with readings by Hughes, Joseph Keckler (Stamps BFA 2004), Deke Weaver, and Joshua Chambers-Letson.

On Friday, February 14, alumni and friends celebrated the opening of two exhibitions: Soft Drugs, at the trendy exhibition space Dfbrl8r, and 3 Episodes on Design at the Lovely Bakery.

Soft Drugs, curated by Chicagoan Teresa Silva and organized by Stamps alum Brent Fogt (MFA 2007), features sculpture, video, and installations by Chicago artists, and Stamps alumni including Sarah Berkeley (MFA 2011), Nicole Marroquin (MFA 2007), Julia Klein (BFA 1999), and Kendall Babl (BFA 2002).

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3 Episodes on Design is a series of critical design exhibitions hosted by Stamps Chicago. Episode 1, “Written on the City,” looks at the dynamics of type in the urban environment (from typography writ large like skywriting and public installations to to flyers, stickers and scratch cards). This episode is curated by Tori Terzakis (BFA 2008) with an essay by Stamps faculty Seth Ellis. Participants include Stamps faculty Roland Graf of Assocreation and Seth Ellis, alumni Ben Van Dyke (MFA 2007) and Mallory Baran (BFA 2011), as well as current MFA candidate Mia Cinelli.

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Friday through Sunday, February 14 - 16: Holly Hughes curated the Off the Wall Cabaret at Links Hall, bringing together some of the most exciting performance- and time-based art from around the country and showcasing the diversity and richness of work produced at Stamps.

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Each night’s bill was a different mix of forms—video, music, monologue, dance and storytelling—with a mix of artists. Headliners for the four nights were Michigan alumni and national superstars Joseph Keckler (BFA 2004) (Thursday and Friday) and Erin Markey (AB 2003) (Saturday and Sunday). Keckler and Markey have established themselves as two of the most sought after performance artists in New York.

Running crew for each night’s performance was made up of students from the U-M Interarts Performance program, a unique program allowing students to create their own BFA from courses in the Stamps School and the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

On Saturday, February 15, the Stamps School and Rebuild Foundation partnered for a gathering at Dorchester Projects as part of “In The Neighborhood,” a conversational panel about communities that included Stamps faculty Nick Tobier; Brenda Hernandez (Yolocalli), Regin Igloria (North Branch Projects), and Jeffreen Hayes (Rebuild Foundation). The panel and the audience discussed the role of neighborhoods, and ways in which they help us define our sense of place, our sense of self and what we come to define as “us” and “them.”

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