by Aurelie Beatley
New School Action
The recent lay off of 12 faculty members at the Parsons New School for Design has the academic world in uproar. The firings, which were communicated to the concerned teachers via email, come after the New School’s embattled president, Bob Kerrey, received an overwhelming vote of no-confidence from senior faculty for his seeming inability to work with a provost. Students at the school have been protesting Kerrey’s unilateral approach to leadership since December 18 by staging occupations of certain New School buildings and by organizing protests and creating blogs, most notably the “New School in Exile,” which gives a voice to the dissenters. The ire between administration and the student body and faculty members has been gradually increasing even as students are suspended and/or arrested for their participation in the protests and occupations. When asked about the atmosphere at Parsons these days, Kristina Monllos, one of the editors of the NS Freepress, the New School’s news publication, said, “When you have an art school and you cut twelve professors, you should be prepared for an uproar.” She continued by praising the student involvement: “For a college campus–most are pretty apathetic–the atmosphere has been tumultuous. I’ve seen people at protests who have never been involved in anything before.” It remains to be seen if the student involvement will actually have any positive impact on the New School’s direction, but the pugnacious nature of the student leaders as they face down their truculent administration is fast becoming an inspiration to other universities similarly concerned with the futures of part-time faculty affected by the economic crisis.
For student reporting on the New School conflict, check out the NS Freepress’ website at: http://www.thenewcampus.org/nsfp/index.php.
For the protest blog, “New School in Exile,” go to: http://www.newschoolinexile.com/
In similar news, the San Fransisco Art Institute’s February 6 layoff of nine tenured faculty members, some of whom had been with the school for over 25 years, has been billed as “outrageous” by student organizers and leaders. SFAI’s administration legitimated the measure by citing the dread words “financial exigency,” a claim that has incensed protesters in the wake of the school’s plans to launch a new “School of Design” for Fall 2010. Students have rallied around the fired faculty members out of concern for what the school’s curriculum will look like now that 25 % of the staff has been cut, as well as the manner in which the layoffs were conducted, with no effort made towards discussion or transparency. The fact that the decision to cut the tenured faculty members was made in closed meetings and without consulting the bodies responsible for teacher organization have left a bitter taste in the mouths of much of SFAI’s population, many of whom are left wondering about the future of the school and the real nature of the possible discourse between the school and its administration.
ART NEWS TICKER
Hi. Are you a UK resident over the age of 18? You aren’t? Oh, then you won’t have the opportunity to win a painting by Damien Hirst, or one of 20 litho prints by the artist. The Observer and Hirst and the band The Hours have combined power to give away the goods. The painting was used to create The Hours album cover, and the give-away created to incite hysteria… Bugs Bunny and pals have taken over da Vinci’s Last Supper in a San Diego gallery owned by the Loony Toons creator’s daughter. Christians get mad when you do shit like that, so they barraged the gallery with obscene phonecalls decrying the desecration of Christian values… Artists Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern attempted to create a performance piece by creating a Wikipedia page for “Wikipedia Art.” The point: it can be freely transformed by anyone choosing to do so. The page lasted 15 hours before it was deleted by Wikipedia Administrators. Wikipedia has launched a trademark infringement lawsuit against the duo for the pair’s archive and continuing discussion of the project. Will the lawsuit be more interesting than the actual art project?… Are Dubai’s elite over artworks that my mom would call “weird?” Christie’s is holding a sale featuring Middle Eastern artists and only two Western artists–Rober Silva’s glass thing, and Mark Quinn’s paintings of flowers. Auction houses are giving up on the idea that buyers in the Middle East will gobble up anything made by Warhol or Hirst. The expected income of the sale is estimated at $4.1m-$5.9m, a far cry from similar auctions last year, when the same session made $20m… —Natalie Edwards
COOL STUFF SAIC STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Students in the VCS grad department have grouped together, DIY style, to create a zine called Canon. The zine features contributions by F Newsmagazine writers Joel Kuennen, Benjamin Pearson and Brian Wallace. The zine includes short stories, theoretical texts, photography, collages, poetry and a temporary tattoo. The zine is distributed around the school and may be found in the F stacks.
F Newsmagazine Editor Beth Capper and Art History/Arts Administration student Kelly Shindler received a 2009 Student Association’s Project Grant back in March for their film screening series Refracted Lens. The grant will go towards paying film-and video-makers who participated in a screening on March 21 at Roots and Culture Gallery in Chicago, which includes SAIC alum Buki Bodurin. Capper and Shindler are currently working on a website to accompany the project featuring interviews with the filmmakers who participate in their screenings and critical articles about the works. Look out this Summer for the next Refracted Lens screening.
Art History/Arts Administration student Paige Johnson is currently working on the first issue of a new essay-based journal called Motherwell to be released in May 2009. The Journal features contributions by a number of SAIC grad students, including Bryce Dwyer of Chicago collective InCUBATE. Read about it at www.thisismotherwell.wordpress.com.
ARTS ADMIN JOURNAL
The Arts Administration Dept. has created a departmental journal called E-merge, edited by Dorota Biczel Nelson and Ania Szremski. The journal seeks to engage with and problematize issues related to arts administration as a professional practice. The pilot issue of the journal is released in conjunction with Art Chicago, presenting a series of interviews with the fair’s key players and curators involved in special exhibitions accompanying the event. The journal is available online: www.saic.edu/emerge
School News Ticker
Faith Wilding, SAIC Performance Poobah, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Photography powerhouse faculty Brian Ulrich and Anna Shteynshleyger also received Guggenheims. Maybe they can team up and document Wilding’s performances… VISCOM seniors and graduate students will be showing off their portfolios and celebrating the department’s fancy, renovated instructional space May 14 on the 11th floor of the Sharp Building. Refreshments will be served and fonts will be discussed… SAIC’s Student Association, (formerly known as student government, which was then disbanded because nobody wanted to run for office), has started a downloadable (from the portal) newsletter that explains who they are, what they do, and how you can get involved. It’s full of surprises, plus there are pictures of Stan Chisolm… Aaron Hoffman has won the very prestigious SSND Designer of the Year award. He’s the “stormy” art director of this very paper, and if you’re smart, you’ll get involved in F too so you can get a job when you graduate. Congratulations Aaron!.. F won Best Overall Design too, so I guess Aaron’s not the only hot shit designer on staff… On May 14 at 6 pm in the Ballroom, graduates of the MFA writing program will read from the work that will propel them into the future. Make sure to attend, if you want some brilliance dropped on your ears… The New York Times did a little ditty about SAIC’s Fashion Design Professor Nick Cave’s “Meet Me at the Center of the Earth” exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Fancy pants! SAIC FVNM alum Nicholas O’Brien recently got props for his video “The Natural” from Ceci Moss on Rhizome. Hit up www.Rhizome.org to check it out! And last, but certainly not least, SAIC MFA writing student and F Newsmagazine associate web editor Natalie Edwards has had one of her short stories published in swanky literary journal McSweeney’s, which once again proves that if you write for F, you’ll go far… —Annabel Clarke