sfai news

December 20, 2012

Faculty Achievements Offer Global Perspective

This winter the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is proud to announce faculty distinctions that span more than disciplines—they traverse the world. SFAI faculty members are shaping the international art community with solo exhibitions, speaking engagements, published works, and prestigious residencies from San Francisco to New Delhi. From group shows at museums and galleries across the country to European art festivals and conferences, faculty members are contributing new works of art, reinventing performances, and collaborating with academics and artists alike.

Their diverse practices and professional accomplishments are central to the experimental, interdisciplinary thinking that characterizes SFAI. New Genres Department Chair Allan deSouza explains the value of recent international exposure: “The contemporary world is increasingly about mobility—of labor, of ideas, of information, of cultures—and artists need to be equally mobile in terms of their ideas and work.” He continues, “In visiting galleries and contemporary art spaces in London, Spain, Rome, and New Delhi—and in meeting artists and scholars from all over the world during my residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center—the importance of preparing my students at SFAI to show their work internationally, to interact across national boundaries, has become all the more imperative.”

More than just bringing global perspectives to studios and classrooms, faculty members' individual practices enhance their relationship with students. SFAI is proud to have been both an academic and artistic home for many prominent artists over the last century—artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and George Kuchar, who through their experience working and teaching at SFAI played key roles in the most important art movements of the past century. Through an open exchange of ideas between faculty and students, SFAI continues to foster a culture of boundary pushing, ripe with potential for disruption. Drawing on their own multi-faceted practices and in engagement with the greater art community, SFAI faculty members provide students with generous mentorship and collaborative opportunities. They offer insight into their own creative process and first-hand knowledge about what it takes to be a successful art professional.

Ian McDonald, Visiting Faculty in the Sculpture/Ceramics Department, describes how his dedication to studio work outside of the classroom informs his teaching: “The subtle but powerful nature of detail is one aspect of my teaching practice that was born out of the studio. The way that an object sits on a surface, or the way an edge holds color, contributes to the slow building of language. This is the foundation for conceptual projects, and in my mind, the ‘stuff’ of sculpture.”

SFAI is thrilled to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of its diverse and talented faculty. Please see a detailed list below.

Allan deSouza, Department Chair, New Genres Department

After completing a prestigious Rockefeller Arts and Literary Arts Residency at the Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Lake Como, Italy, Allan deSouza showcases this month a new collection of paintings that explore his encounters with Western art history and canonical Western artists. In Painting Redux, his second solo exhibition at the Talwar Gallery in New Delhi, India, deSouza’s tactile, painterly approach and appropriation of iconic paintings—including those by Henri Rousseau and Paul Gauguin—results in a body of works that traverse past and present, and collective and individual identity. Through his process of repainting, or “erasing,” the familiar, figurative sources of these pieces are submerged in dense, mostly monochromatic pallets, emerging only subtly on the surface in residual traces and flecks of color.

Painting Redux is on display until January 15, 2013.

Amy Berk, Visiting Faculty and Program Chair, Contemporary Practice

DARK NIGHTS, BRIGHT LIGHTS: A celebration of ritual performance for winter, at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, California is a month-long celebration honoring winter solstice and the traditions it has inspired within cultures all over the world. As part of this celebration, Amy Berk debuts a photographic installation and collaborative project with her three-year-old son. Berk’s images capture a world seen from her son’s perspective—depicting unnoticed angles and areas of interest. They range from the banal, featuring recognizable people and structures, to the abstract, where confused camera settings make for beautiful, unfamiliar photographs.

DARK NIGHTS, BRIGHT LIGHTS runs through December 21, 2012.

Christina Boufis, Visiting Faculty, Director of the Writing Program

Published last month by Alpha Books, Christina Boufis’s new book The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Writing Nonfiction offers narrative nonfiction writers the tools they need to elevate their storytelling to an art form that appeals to more readers. Boufis addresses a variety of topics integral to writing nonfiction stories, taking the reader from the moment of inspiration to publication. She also interviews successful narrative nonfiction writers and shares their insights on what inspires them and how they overcome their own obstacles.

Darcy Padilla, Visiting Faculty, Photography Department

In both her talk and workshop at this month's Lumina International Photography Festival in Lucca, Italy, Darcy Padilla draws on her experience creating The Julie Project: an award-winning collection of documentary photographs and transcripts about AIDS victim Julie Baird, and the culmination of nearly two decades of work. Padilla's talk entitled "The Pain of Others" with Maurizio Rebuzzini, Director of the Italian magazine FOTOgraphia, focuses on the telling of Julie’s story, her life (and death), and how by documenting the consequences of Julie’s poverty and isolation, Padilla is able to highlight the broad impact of the AIDS epidemic and other social issues facing America today. During her workshop, "The Documentary Project: How to Tell a Story," Padilla revisits The Julie Project—this time using it to guide participants through the various steps of the storytelling process, and to help them form their own ideas for documentary photography.

Padilla’s conversation “The Pain of Others” with Maurizio Rebuzzini took place on the afternoon of December 15, 2012. Her workshop, "The Documentary Project: How to Tell a Story,” was December 15-16, 2012.

In addition, Padilla’s photo of President Obama on election night ran in The New Yorker last month.

Ian McDonald, Visiting Faculty, Sculpture/Ceramics Department

Ian McDonald’s third solo exhibition at the Rena Bransten Gallery this spring explores the discreet object. Consisting of nearly a dozen ceramic pieces and created in parts through both mechanical and handmade processes, this exhibition marks a departure from McDonald’s previous work. Instead of relying on the accumulation of objects—arranged in groups and consisting of different media—to create one unit or sculpture, McDonald’s work for the Rena Bransten Gallery exhibition will have a central focus, improvising within formal restrictions to convey meaning or presence.

McDonald’s show at the Rena Bransten Gallery opens on March 14, 2013 and runs through April 27, 2013. More recent work by McDonald is on display with artist Matt Connors in The Turn at San Francisco’s 2nd Floor Projects until January 16, 2013.

John de Fazio, Visiting Faculty, Sculpture/Ceramics Department

German Mettlach Ware (1850-1915) and Present-Day Translations at The American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California focuses on the recent acquisition of thousands of elaborate beer steins produced by the Villeroy & Boch factory over the last two centuries. John de Fazio is among the ten contemporary artists showcasing new works of art in this exhibition. Based on research about the use of lidded beer steins during the black plague—as a way to keep contaminates out of “life sustaining” beer—de Fazio repurposed the form of the stein into a crematory urn, producing a series of cast and glazed ceramic vessels.

German Mettlach Ware (1850-1915) and Present-Day Translations is on display October 13, 2012-January 27, 2013.

Paul Klein, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Design and Technology

As concluding speaker and panelist for the Computer Art Congress 3 (CAC3), which occurred in Paris, France last month, Paul Klein challenged traditionally reinforced visual mediums. His remarks entitled "Post-Digital Electronic Vision: Seeing and Hearing Could Be Believing” addressed the idea of constructing a “world symphony” of knowledge—one that extends beyond “seeing is believing.” In addition to his concluding remarks, Klein participated as an integral member of the CAC3 presentation review committee, joining a distinguished group of international artists, intellectuals, engineers, and scientists with visionary ideas about post-digital art. Klein attended and participated in the conference through the support of the Partner University Fund Grant, awarded to SFAI in Spring 2009, and first presented on the topic of “Hearing Could Be Believing” during Soundwave's New Humanity Conference at SFAI earlier in the fall.

Klein’s speaking opportunities also took him to Chicago, Illinois this past semester. As a Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability (PALS) fellow, he was invited to present distinctive work by SFAI students at the annual PALS conference alongside several other representatives from independent colleges of art and design. Collectively, the PALS group is building a strategic plan for sharing and leveraging resources to better integrate sustainability into art and design programs.

Pegan Brooke, Associate Professor, Painting Department

Pegan Brooke’s paintings were included in a group exhibition Under Water at the University Art Gallery, Sonoma State University this semester. Part of a university-wide interdisciplinary project, the exhibition presented a selection of works by regional, national, and internationally recognized artists who portrayed water both directly and metaphorically, and in one instance, literally as a material in a featured sculpture. Brooke’s paintings in this exhibition were based on sustained reflection upon the Aven River in Pont-Aven, France and the Pacific Ocean.

Under Water ran November 8-December 9, 2012.

Whitney Lynn, Visiting Faculty, New Genres Department

In Denver, Colorado, at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design’s Phillip J. Steele Gallery, Whitney Lynn is showing three sculptures and an outdoor ice installation as part of the group exhibition The Temporary Institute of Emancipated Objects. A new performance piece by Lynn at the opening reception features a "balloon sculptor" whose making and piling of balloon animals, over the course of several hours, will result in a sculpture for the exhibition. Along with the other artists, Lynn’s collection of works for this exhibition explores the renewal of the object through reuse and appropriation.

Temporary Institute of Emancipated Objects is on display January 10-February 7, 2013. Lynn’s performance takes place on the evening of January 10.

In addition, a photograph documenting Lynn’s reenactment of Joseph Beuys’ How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (only replacing Beuys’ dead hare with a live rabbit) will be included in the See You Next Tuesday exhibition at Portland State University’s Art Department Galleries from January 11-February 22, 2013. Organized by SFAI MFA alumna and New Genres Visiting Faculty Jennifer Locke, this exhibition of women artists highlights work dealing with the human body.

Additional published works

Associate Painting Professor Mark Van Proyen—a frequent contributor to Art Practical, Square Cylinder, and SFAQ—wrote articles this winter on a range of topics, including reviews of Art Basel 43, ZERO1 Biennial in Silicon Valley, and the recent Cindy Sherman exhibition at SFMOMA. Visiting Faculty Benjamin Perez published two poems, "Yeats Infection" and "Modernity Ballad," in the avant-garde art and literary journal Valeveil based in Stockholm. Clark Buckner, also visiting faculty in the Interdisciplinary Studies department, has a forthcoming book by SUNY University Press.