MCAD/Jerome Artists 2006–07
Ernest Arthur Bryant III, Brian Lesteberg, Cherith Lundin, Monica Sheets, Marcus Young
MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists
An exhibition of new work by the recipients of the 2006¬–07 MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists.
MCAD Gallery, Oct. 19–Nov. 25, 2007
Supported by the Jerome Foundation
Introduction by Kristin Makholm
Relational art has entered the MCAD/Jerome Artists exhibition in a big way. In his book Relational Aesthetics, Nicholas Bourriaud describes an artistic practice that elevates the connection with the viewer and real-life experience over and above the contemplative object found on a gallery wall. Its effects are clearly found in the work we see in this year’s show: Monica Sheets’ exhibition within an exhibition; Ernest Bryant’s chicken party potlatch project; Marcus Young’s From Here to There and Beyond.
Bourriaud’s book was conceived in response to what the author saw as a trend in art of the 1990s—the actions of Rirkrit Tiravanija, for example—and yet the practice of art engaging life and life experiences has a long history. In the Western art canon, it goes back to Dada in the 1910s and the happenings and performance art of Fluxus in the 1960s and ’70s, but one could argue that it has its roots at Lascaux. Bryant maintains its constant relevance in non-Western cultures—the five-day rituals in Ghana and the rites of manhood in Papua New Guinea—while Young sees art in the smallest details of our everyday experiences.
Perhaps more than a resurgence of an interest in the newly coined but age-old “relational aesthetics” is the reevaluation of how art intersects life in all conceivable ways. The theme of community is no less poignant or relevant in the photographs of Brian Lesteberg than it is in Bryant’s chicken parties; the contemplation of our world equally concentrated in Cherith Lundin’s paintings as in Young’s journeying line. Where this public interrogation intersects individual rights is the nexus of Monica Sheets’ installations and public artworks.
It is our hope that the MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists program and this exhibition offer a looking glass into contemporary artistic practice as seen through the eyes and minds of some of Minnesota’s most promising young artists. Twelve months ago, each of these five artists received $9,000 to pursue his or her ideas, unconnected to any particular project except for the simple freedom to pursue artistic goals. They were selected from a field of 286 applicants by a jury of three arts professionals: Rico Gatson, a Brooklyn-based artist; Eungie Joo, director and curator of education and public programs at the New Museum in New York; and Diane Mullin, associate curator at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
During the Fellowship year, three critics visited the artists’ studios individually, offering dialog and discourse into their current work and artistic practice. This year we were pleased to host visits by Dan Cameron, director of visual arts at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans; Philippe Vergne, deputy director and chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Michelle Grabner, artist, critic, and professor of art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Through these critical conversations, each of these emerging artists was able to expand and build upon the languages already at work in his or her art and consider new ways to discourse with current languages and practices. The uniqueness in each Fellow’s response to artistic expression reveals how sentient and how critical our varied perspectives are to challenging the relationship of art to life.
Director, Gallery and Exhibitions
Program Director, MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists
Minneapolis College of Art and Design