The Department of Art regularly invites artists, critics, historians and designers to participate in the Department of Art Speaker Series, classroom lectures and critiques.
September 9: Shea Hembrey
American conceptual artist Shea Hembrey is from Hickory Grove, Arkansas. Hembrey received national attention in 2011 with the release of "SEEK", a biennial of art showcasing the work of 100 artists—all of whom he invented and created the artwork for himself. Hembrey presented this project as a TED speaker in 2011. Shea Hembrey's work explores our best current understanding of the structure of reality while putting himself in the role of playing trickster. Currently, that exploration questions our contemporary view of the universe as revealed through physics. He approaches art by concentrating on a singular, defined conceptual project where the ideas direct what methods and media he uses. Research is key to all of his creative endeavors while he remains a prolific maker of things. Though always focused on developing new technical skills on his own, he has a varied formal art education. His nine years of studying art at university include a year spent studying Maori art in New Zealand and an M.F.A. from Cornell University.
September 16: Justine Kurland
Justine Kurland is a Contemporary Fine Art photographer who is known for her large c-print tableau pictures of childhood secret places and wastelands. Kurland graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York. She received her MFA in 1998 from Yale University. Kurland’s landscapes deal with young children, men, and women, often mixing the purity of youth with its unbridled wildness. These works of feral and unsupervised children running amuck in a suburban wasteland formed the basis of her book Spirit West in 2000. She has traveled across the United States to create these staged photos. Her photos of utopian-esque communities in Virginia and California earned her solo shows in London and Vienna.
Kurland’s work has been seen in Monte Clark Gallery in Canada, CEPA Gallery in New York, and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Oregon. She is one of the leading photographers of primal imagery and nature. Kurland currently lives and works in New York.
September 23: Kianja Strobert
Kianja Strobert is a painter using a variety of unlikely materials to realize raw, expressionistic canvases. Her practice explores how painting, sculpture, and architecture intersect with mark-making. Her works are characterized by splashes and swathes of color put to canvas with overt physicality. Strobert’s dynamic practice is defined by questions regarding what it means to be a "maker."
September 30: Koichi Yamamoto
Koichi Yamamoto is an artist who merges the traditional and contemporary by creating unique and innovative approaches to the language of printmaking. Koichi has worked with meticulous copper engravings to large-scale monotypes. Most recently he has been focusing on making kites.
Koichi’s prints explore issues of the sublime, memory, and atmosphere. He has exhibited internationally. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta (MFA 1999) and Pacific Northwest College of Art (BFA 1992). He has studied at the Bratislava Academy of Art (1994) and the Poznañ Academy of Art (1995). He has presented one-person exhibitions at Brookhaven College, Dallas, Texas (2007); the Salt Lake Art Center (2001); Illinois State University (1999); the Szynkiewicz Museum in Poznañ, Poland (1996). Recent juried print competitions that include his work have been the Boston Printmakers (2007); the 7th Bharat Bhavan International Biennial Print Art, New Delhi, India (2006); and the Lujubljana International Printmaking Exhibition, Slovania (1999). His prints are in the collections of University of Hawaii at Hilo; the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Center in the Portland Art Museum; and the University of Alberta Museum and Collection, Edmonton, Canada. In the fall of 2010 he was an Artist-in-Residence at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Yamamoto earned tenure at Utah State University (2000-2006) and taught at the University of Delaware (2006-2007) before coming to UTK.
October 7: Kathy High
Kathy High is an interdisciplinary artist working with technology, art and biology. She collaborates with scientists and artists, and considers living systems, empathy, animal sentience, and the social, political and ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and surrounding industries. She has received awards including the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for Arts. Her art works have been shown at documenta 13 (Germany), Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and Exit Art (NYC), UCLA (Los Angeles), Science Gallery, (Dublin), NGBK, (Berlin), Fesitval Transitio_MX (Mexico), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Para-site Gallery (Hong Kong), and Esther Klein Gallery, Science Center (Philadelphia). She has had residencies with SymbioticA (2009-10), Finnish Society of Bioart (2013), Coalesce (2016-17), Djerassi Scientific Delirium Madness (2019), DePaolo Lab/ Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics,UW, Seattle (ongoing). High is Professor in Arts, and has a lab at Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy. She is project coordinator for the urban environmental center, NATURE Lab, with the community media organization The Sanctuary for Independent Media, and is also on board of directors. High is also on GENSPACE board of directors (Brooklyn) and REFRESH advisory board.
October 14: Eteam (Hajoe Modregger & Franzy Lamprecht)
Since 2001, eteam (Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger) traffic in transience. At the intersection of relational aesthetics, the Internet and land art, eteam triggers collective happenings and conceptual transactions between the earthly plane and the realms of the interweb, often reconstructed in hypnotic video work, radio and puppet plays and novels. Their projects have been featured at MoMA PS1 NY, MUMOK Vienna, Centre Pompidou Paris, Transmediale Berlin, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, New York Video Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, the 11th Biennale of Moving Images in Geneva, among many others. They have received grants from Art in General, NYSCA, NYFA, Rhizome, Creative Capital and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and were residents at the CLUI, Taipei Artist Village (TAV), Eyebeam, Smack Mellon, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. In 2017 they received an Artport Commission, The Whitney Museum’s portal to Digital Art. Their novel “OS Grabeland” will be published by Nightboat Books in 2018/19.
October 21: Sylvie Fortin
Sylvie Fortin is an independent curator, researcher, critic and editor. She was Executive/Artistic Director of La Biennale de Montréal (2013-2017) and Executive Director/Editor of the Atlanta-based ART PAPERS (2007-2012). Her curatorial posts have included Curator of Contemporary Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, 2013), Curator of Manif 5 – the 5th Québec City Biennial (2010), Curator of Contemporary Art at the Ottawa Art Gallery (1996-2001) and Program Coordinator at LA CHAMBRE BLANCHE (Quebec City, 1991-1994). Her critical essays and reviews have been published in numerous catalogues, anthologies and periodicals, including Artforum International, Art Press, C Magazine, Flash Art International, Fuse, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art and Parachute. She also initiated Pass, the International Biennial Association’s journal, and edited its inaugural issue (2018). She is currently researching the currencies of hospitality.
Fortin has received many grants from the Canada Council for the Arts for her work as an independent curator and writer. In addition, her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program. She is a member of IBA (International Biennial Association), AICA-USA (the American chapter of the International Association of Art Critics) and IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art).
October 28: Marlene McCarty
Marlene McCarty is a visual artist producing large format figurative drawings. As a member of Gran Fury, the AIDS activist collective, McCarty staged public interventions using the language of art and advertising that put pressure on politicians and helped bring the gay and lesbian community into mainstream consciousness. Gran Fury’s work was exhibited at the 1990 Venice Biennali Aperto, the Walker Art Gallery, and recently Steinhardt’s 80WSE Gallery. In 2010 80WSE hosted ‘im into you now,’ a 30-year survey of McCarty’s art. McCarty’s work has also been exhibited at the Kunsthalle Bern (Switzerland), the Busan Biennial (Korea), the Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, Germany), ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany), the Istanbul Biennial, and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA, NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA, LA), and the Brooklyn Museum. Among her awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pollack-Krasner Grant, the Skowhegan School Teaching Fellowship, and, as Gran Fury, an honorary doctorate from Massachusetts College of Art.
November 4: Ariel Schlesinger
Ariel Schlesinger is an Israeli artist who lives and works in Berlin and Mexico City. His diverse body of work navigates sculpture, conceptual art, and installation art. Schlesinger’s installations often dislocate everyday objects, rearranging them in ways that leave viewers simultaneously amused and apprehensive. In 2017, Schlesinger won an international competition to design a public work for the entrance of the newly renovated Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.
November 11: Michael Ashkin
Michael Ashkin’s work includes sculpture, installation, photography, video, painting, and text and looks at the role of aesthetic representation in the economic and political production of space. After receiving a B.A. in Oriental studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Columbia University in Middle East languages and cultures, he worked eight years in the financial world before choosing to become an artist. He received an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. His work has been shown at the Whitney Biennial (1997), Greater New York (2000), Documenta 11 (2002), Vienna Secession (2009), IVAM in Valencia, Spain (2010), Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen (2014), and Kolumba, Köln (2015). His most recent photography book, Long Branch, was published in 2014. He has been awarded two Pollock-Krasner Fellowships (1997, 2012) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009). He has taught at Cornell University in the School of Art Architecture and Planning since 2006 where he is currently an associate professor and chair of the Department of Art.
November 18: Rebekah Modrak
Rebekah Modrak uses photography, the internet, and critical design to explore commerce, identity and class. She is founder of Re Made Company, an artwork that uses recreation to parody the rhetoric around designer tools and the urban woodsman including the language of authenticity, appropriation of working class identities and a revitalization of traditional male roles. Modrak co-curated eBayaday, a month-long exhibition featuring site-specific work by twenty-five artists that used eBay as a site for the exchange of ideas, objects and commerce by incorporating the structures of the online marketplace as elements in the work. She is the lead author of Reframing Photography, a book of theory and process that reconsiders photography’s omnipresence throughout the arts and other disciplines. Modrak is an Associate Professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with Postcommodity, Chacon has exhibited or performed at Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, Ende Tymes Festival, 18th Biennale of Sydney, and The Kennedy Center. Every year, he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP). He is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.
Candace Hopkins is a curator and writer of Tlingit descent originally from Whitehorse, Yukon. She is Senior Curator of the Toronto Biennial of Art and co-curator of the 2018 SITE Santa Fe biennial, Casa Tomada. She was a part of the curatorial team for documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany and a co-curator of the major exhibitions Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, and the 2014 SITElines biennial, Unsettled Landscapes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her writing is published widely and her recent essays and presentations include “Outlawed Social Life” for South as a State of Mind and Sounding the Margins: A Choir of Minor Voices at Small Projects, Tromsø, Norway. She has lectures internationally including at the Witte de With, Tate Modern, Dak’Art Biennale, Artists Space, Tate Britain and the University of British Columbia. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art and the 2016 the Prix pour un essai critique sur l’art contemporain by the Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco. She is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
December 2: Domhnaill Hernon
Domhnaill Hernon is Head of Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.) at Nokia Bell Labs. He graduated with a B.Eng in Aeronautical Engineering, a Ph.D in fundamental fluid mechanics from the University of Limerick and an Executive M.B.A. from Dublin City University, Ireland. He is passionate about turning research/ideas into reality and exploring the bounds of creativity to push the limits of technology. Domhnaill was previously responsible for turning Bell Labs disruptive research assets into proto-solutions that could be tested at scale in the market, and he established new methods to overcome the “Innovation Valley of Death”. He is currently responsible for Bell Labs global activities in E.A.T. where he collaborates with the artistic and creative community to push the limits of technology to solve the greatest human need challenges.