Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Art majors seek inspiration in New York City museums, galleries

Studio art major, senior Mysha Oveson, poses with New Yorkers after sewing their initials into her tongue using a needle and thread. "I definitely wouldnSenior studio art majors traveled to New York City last month as part of their senior seminar in search of inspiration for their culminating projects in the spring. New York City, described by Whitman’s Professor of Sculpture Michelle Acuff as the Mecca of the art world, is home to some of the world’s best museums and galleries. “These museums are like temples: they hold the Western Art tradition, all the greats,” said Acuff.

The 11 majors, accompanied by professors Acuff and Alex Herzog, spent the week prior to Thanksgiving Break exploring first-hand what they have been studying for the past three years. “Seeing these things up close, where you could stand up and look at them, with your nose almost touching the canvas, you could see all of these details that you would never be able to see in a photograph,” said Mysha Oveson.

“Going to New York made me realize ‘fuck it, I just want to paint.’ There is definitely a large amount of support … for the creative process itself, I gained some confidence in that,” said Jason Brain, who plans to pursue an MFA in painting after graduating.

The group visited museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Guggenheim, as well as a plethora of contemporary galleries in the Chelsea district.

“I think my favorite excursion was the Chelsea galleries. It was interesting to see what is happening right now,” said Brain.

Art majors seek inspiration in New York City museums, galleries | Photo courtesy of Mysha Oveson“That stuff is really fresh,” said Acuff of the Chelsea galleries. “It [gave] them an opportunity to steep and brew, it [was] like a pressure cooker for their ideas.”

The last day of the trip was punctuated with a performance piece Oveson did in front of MOMA. Dressed in a red cocktail dress, stilettos and a full face of makeup, Oveson sewed the initials of people walking by into her tongue, using needle and thread. “It was talking about the act of femininity … I looked like your stereotypical female, going to prom or something … I don’t know if you would actually call it a self-mutilation act, but sort of along the lines of pain endurance. [It was about] the juxtaposition of the acts, of what people might assume would happen with a needle and thread and then what actually happened at the performance.”

After finishing sewing the initials, Oveson took a Polaroid of her tongue and offered it to the person. “People were into it,” said Oveson. “They didn’t think anything less or more of me, it was a really great environment, you could just do whatever and people didn’t even look twice.”

The trip is a tradition in the art department and was started originally when the visual art department and art history were combined. Funding for the trip has typically come from the President’s Office. This year, each student was given $300 from the President’s Office for the trip. The money partially covered airfare. Many of the students expressed concern in being able to go for financial reasons, claiming that they did not know the trip would be funded until just weeks before their departure.

“There are quite a few of us who had made financial decisions without knowing about the costs,” said Oveson, who explained that upon learning that they were financially responsible for going to New York, the group pursued several different channels to receive more funding, including the Dean of Students and ASWC. “The truth of the matter is that I didn’t have enough money to go on the trip. If I knew in advance, I would have saved,” said Brain.

ASWC gave the art majors emergency funding at a meeting the day before they left for New York. This money, in conjunction with the $300 from the President’s Office and strides to cut costs while on the trip, like staying in a youth hostel rather than paying hotel fare, enabled all 11 majors to attend.

“We are really lucky that we get to do this,” said Acuff.

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