Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Internationally-known artist in residence at New Harmony Gallery asks: “What is Utopian today?”
That is the question that Utopiana, a community art project led by the seminal artist and feminist activist Mary Beth Edelson will seek to answer in the coming months. Edelson is artist in residence at the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art in New Harmony, Indiana, October 8 through November 5.
She will introduce Utopiana to the community with two workshops: at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, at the New Harmony Gallery, and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 11, in Kleymeyer Hall in the Liberal Arts Center at USI. The workshops are free and open to the public.
Edelson’s selection of medium and method is project-specific and includes “any type of art you can imagine,” said April Vasher-Dean, director of the New Harmony Gallery. “From the workshops will come what’s going to be created. It could be something tangible like a fabric hut, or more conceptual like some way to improve life in the community.”
Vasher-Dean invited Katie Waters, professor of art and chair of the Art, Music, and Theatre Department, and Hilary Braysmith, associate professor of art history, to help plan the project, ensuring that USI students have the opportunity to work with a famous artist on site in New Harmony.
The students, representing a variety of skill sets, will collaborate with Edelson, New Harmony residents, and others. Undergraduate art history students Janelle Persohn, Philip Schmitt, and Corinne Wilson, along with Jason Reese, a USI graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program, will participate in and document the project. Reese will work as Edelson’s project assistant and his photographs, along with other visual imagery, will be on display in the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art during the New Harmony Art Stroll from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, November 18.
Edelson describes Utopiana as “a performative community project in two cycles.” There will be an envisioning phase, during which ideas for the project will emerge, and a future implementation phase.
“We anticipate in both cycles profound social and personal outcomes for all the participants, such as an improved sense of community and recognition of the transformative power of art, because of the transformative process and products Mary Beth Edelson’s work brings,” Braysmith said. “Cycle II will result in more obvious aesthetic evidence of transformation than Cycle I.”
Students and New Harmony residents who would like to be involved with Cycle I should contact Vasher-Dean at 812/682-3156.
According to her official biography, Edelson’s artwork is rooted in feminism, political activism, collaboration, and public participation. It consists of diverse media including photography, painting, sculpture, drawing, performance, silkscreen prints, artist’s books, posters, fabric works, collages, story-gathering boxes, video, and installation.
Her work has been widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and is in the permanent collection of numerous public institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Walker Art Center in Minnesota, and the Malmö Konstmuseum in Sweden.
She is the recipient of grants from Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Pollack-Krasner Foundation, Thanks Be to Grandmother Winifred Foundation, and Richard Florsheim Art Fund.
Edelson holds a B.A. from Depauw University, an M.A. from New York University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Depauw University. She resides in New York City.