It’s that student time of year

Asuka Goto
Libby and David in Temple Gallery trying out Tyler MFA student Asuka Goto’s checkerboard floor installation.

Libby and I ran into Temple Gallery last week with David Kessler to shoot a new video episode of Look! It’s Libby and Roberta. (Look for that soon and see some more photos at my flickr set). Temple is just one spot where you’ll be seeing art by graduating MFA students this Spring. Watch for these exhibits since they’re a good way to spot interesting young talent.

Over at Penn, the MFA students are organizing an open studios event this month that looks to be good. One of the students, Simon Slater, wrote me about it recently. Sales of art from the open studio will help with costs of their 2008 thesis show. (see information at the end)


I asked Simon if we could do an email Q&A just to open a window on the art student brain. He agreed and answered my questions and passed them on to the other students. Debs Hoy responded and Daniel Gerwin sent me a copy of an essay he’d written on a topic related to one of the questions. Below is the Q&A with a few pictures of the students’ work from the blog they’ve set up.

Simon Slater
Simon Slater, work seen on the Penn MFA students’ blog

what do you hope to do with your MFA degree?

SIMON – My hopes for my MFA degree are surprisingly mundane. I will hang it on a wall next to my BFA degree. A friend of mine is rumored to be using his MFA degree as a Japanese fan during the hot muggy Chicago summers. The Midwest can be a little weird.
DEBS – Parade it around England and the USA clamouring for sculptural commissions

What’s the future of painting?
SIMON – The future of painting is as Tom Petty sings ‘wide open’. As the painting dialogue becomes more and more abstract the possibilities become infinite. Because of this I feel the future of painting is as brighter than the futures of this years graduating Wharton MBA class.
DEBS – Who Cares?


Deb Hoy
Deb Hoy. Water Bottle Falls (2007) 15ft high, made from stripped and cut plastic
drinks bottles. Commissioned by Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center March 2007. From March 27th the completed cascade will be on display at the Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center; Open 10am – 5pm Tues –Sat and 1pm – 5pm on Sundays. Call 215 685 0723 or see for directions. Said Debs in an email: The sculpture was built last weekend with a group of 26 local Gril scouts. It was a great event in honor of world water day. I was for real when I championed activist and social art!

What is the relevance of Komar and Melamid, Pepon Osorio, Rirkrit Tirivanija, Phil Collins to the discussion of what art is today? Are these artists — who make a kind of activist, in some cases humorous, art — a dead end branch on the art family tree?
SIMON – Personally I find activist art to be a bit tiresome and problematic. There are many of my fellow classmates who would disagree with me.
DEBS – I don’t like to discuss what is art today – it can be a whole host of things
that the Art-elite think it is not. Activism, taking a stance and making a
comment is furtive and relevant. I don’t think its a dead end branch.
DANIEL (this is an excerpt from a longer essay in which the writer brings up other activist artists like Hans Haacke, Joseph Beuys and the local collective Basekamp only to suggest that real activism and real change take place not in art but elsewhere and that art is somehow better when it’s in (or also in) the realm of the irrational and the metaphorical.)

Notes on a Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup
… It seems to me that one of art’s greatest qualities is its ability to operate in the realm of the irrational and mysterious, regions that cannot be accessed or exhausted by rational exegesis.

…Compare the aforementioned works to a collaborative performance by a large number of organizations, but led in large part by one of America’s greatest performance artists, Dr. Martin Luther King. This work was known as the Civil Rights Movement, and included such memorable pieces as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. Which among all these works has been more successful as social architecture? Which work acts most powerfully in the symbolic realm? The efforts of Bueys, Basekamp, and Haacke are anemic compared to those of Mathaii, Chomsky, and King. To give the devil his due, one must acknowledge perhaps the ultimate master of social architecture and its aesthetics, Adolf Hitler.

Daniel Gerwin
Daniel Gerwin. work seen on the Penn MFA students’ blog

Where are you going after graduation?

SIMON – After graduation I am going to Disney Land.
DEBS – I’d like to stay in Philly doing more of the same in a wider social context.

On a scale of 1-10 (1=pessimist and 10=optimist) what’s your feeling about the future?
SIMON – I am feeling a 20 about my future. If I were a pessimist I would be in law school right now preparing for an exciting future in corporate law. Yep! A bad attitude can ruin a good time indeed!
DEBS – The future is bright, the future is Orange.

What do you think of Saatchi’s online art portal?
SIMON – I think Saatchi is the Gordon Gecko of the art world and I like it. SIMON – Saatchi’s often manic ideas on how to redo and/or reconfigure the machinations of the art world force change. I think the Saatchi online portal is a good start. I like seeing what other art students are up to on Stuart. When I was at the Art Institute of Chicago a prominent painting professor told me that it was now cool to have a website whereas the year before it was uncool. I tell this story because I am constantly surprised how suspicious artists can be of new technologies. I am glad there are people like Saatchi who try to experiment with these new technologies and approaches.
DEBS – Saatchi makes me curse, don’t get me started on the legacy of the YBA’s and the Messianic portals he claims to offer

Gianna Delluomo
Gianna Delluomo. work seen on the Penn MFA students’ blog

How much time do you spend in the studio each week?

SIMON – I try to spend as much time in the studio as I can. I think on average I spend 40 hours a week in the studio. I am lucky, I live in graduate student housing here at school. The housing is so terrible that I have no reason to go back to my apartment until I am dead tired and ready to sleep.
DEBS – I don’t count

How much time do you spend on the computer each week?

SIMON – Ahhhhhh heh heh eh ahhhh ummmm alot?
DEBS – Too much

Tony Soprano will get whacked for good this season. Yes or no.
SIMON – I am a loyal reader of Gang Land News. I am also a fan of the Sopranos. Over the years it has become clear to me that the writers of the Sopranos are fans of Gang Land News as well. Many of the Sopranos story lines are ripped from Gang Land. If this writing trend continues I don’t think Tony will be killed. I think Johnny Sack will do what incarcerated Bonnano Family boss Fat Joe Massino did and become the first Capo di Tutti Capo of a crime family to become a rat. As a result, Tony will be arrested on RICO charges and he himself will spend the rest of the season in jail. The season will revolve around Tony’s attempt to distance himself from his crimes. This distancing will be a bloody business indeed. Carmella will finally be forced to confront the fact that her husband is a neurotic sociopath. Doctor Melfi will be killed by Pauli Walnuts. Spoiled Anthony Jr…..who knows what will happen with that oaf. Meadow will try to escape with her milquetoast fiance to a staid upper middle class life. The rest of the gang will vie for the scraps of the crime empire. In the end the sole survivor will be Tony in federal solitary confinement ala John Gotti in Marion Illinois.
DEBS – Pass

I’m really excited about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Yes or no.

SIMON – I am excited for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie for a very cynical reason. As a kid I bought the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics #1 through 5. When I tried to sell them in college their value had plummeted. I am hoping that the new movie will reinvigorate the market for these comic books and when I sell them I will look like a comic book trading wizard. I can then promote a comic trading forum co sponsored by the Learning Annex and as a result become a cajillionazillionaire and retire by 34. I can then make bad art anxiety free! Dreams do come true Roberta I just know it.
DEBS – I Couldn’t give a crap about TMNT, I’m not 10 years old anymore

Penn MFA Open Studio/Benefit Sale
Friday, April 27, 2007, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., FREE admission, drinks and refreshments
Morgan Building, the university’s main art studio building, at 205 S. 34th St. (between Walnut and Spruce streets)
–150 drawings, prints, paintings, photography, and sculptures will be for sale at $50, $100, and $150. All proceeds from these sales will support the Class of 2008 Thesis Show.
More information here
Check out the student blog.