Introduction to Shanghai/Beijing Residency

By Cori Beardsley, MFA 2011
Left to right: Wang Yi, MFA 2010, Mitchell Martinez, Class of 2012, Samuel Evensen, MFA 2008, Cori Beardsley, MFA 2011, Kiley Ames Klein, MFA 2011 Friend, Cao Yi, MFA 2011
NiHao Academy community! I wanted to introduce the CAFA, Shanghai University Residency program that Kiley Ames Klein, Samuel Evensen, Mitchell Martinez, and myself; Cori Beardsley have been on since August 20th.  Wang Yi (alum Shanghai University-2008,NYAA 2010) and Cao Yi (Alumni of CAFA-2009, NYAA-2011) have been our generous, energetic tour guides, translators, and dear friends-welcoming us so warmly into China and explaining the culture, art and history along the way.  

We started out in Shanghai, visiting cultural sights like Old and New City, museums, and important galleries. Staying at the University Hotel at Shanghai University, We met 15 students from Shanghai University and other Universities in China (graduate and undergraduate).  We worked from the model, and on our own projects in the studio with them for 10 days.  We also traveled and worked Plen air for two days to Xi Tang, a beautiful ancient water city.  Back at the studio, Samuel Evenson led a great anatomy class one morning and we exchanged in discussions about our contemporary art worlds, working representationally, and what we strove for as artists.  Wong Yi's took us to his studio and we were thrilled about his new work.  He also took us to local markets and antique shops- insight about the history of China that gets submerged in the sea of modernization.The generosity and hospitality we received in our introduction to China was overwhelming, our big wide eyes were busy taking in all the new sights, people and culture. 

And off we were on a FAST 5 hour train ride to Beijing.  We are staying in an apartment that Cao Yi found for us that is a half a mile from school, and we have a terrific 1,000 sq. ft studio with a skylight in the Graduate Oil Painting Building.  After we stopped jumping up and down in the studio we quickly got to work.  Art supplies are very cheap and accessible, the spaces are BIG and the art is BIG.  So our ambitions went soaring.  Ren Rui and Janet Fong from the Public Education and Development Program at the Museum of CAFA are arranging a show for us of the work completed on this Residency in the Museum while the Biennial: Super Organism at the Museum is up.  To be continued...

A Teachable Moment

The painting “Inglorious Nocturne” by Holly Ann Sailors has provoked a strong reaction from many members of the Academy’s staff, faculty and student community. 

To address the serious nature of these concerns, the Academy feels that it has a responsibility to its community to create a platform where all sides of this issue may be aired in a reasonable and respectful manner. 

We have created this blog to encourage an open and honest dialog about freedom of expression and speech, the open exchange of ideas and the role that censorship plays in addressing provocative and controversial works in the arts.

- Peter Drake, Dean of Academic Affairs

While the faculty is not in total agreement about the success of “Inglorious Nocturne,” and hence of how offensive (if at all) it may be, we all applaud Holly’s ambition and courage in addressing such difficult subject matter. History painting, once the pinnacle of painting’s function, is now largely the territory of film and photography; contemporary art generally shies away from historical issues. Certainly racism is one of our history’s major quandaries: much of America’s early economic success is owed to unpaid labor, and some of the founders who gave such beautiful expression to notions of American independence were slave-owners.

The faculty also sees replacing the painting with one less inflammatory as counterproductive, partly because that would invoke censorship—even if the most salient examples in recent art history have involved public (government) monetary support, and The New York Academy is a private institution whose main function is to educate students. Most of all, avoiding these thorny issues would be missing the opportunity of a “teachable moment”.  As a school that promotes excellence in formal execution in figurative art, we hope that the discussion that follows of how and why this image provokes thought and emotion, will encourages students to challenge themselves in terms of content. We invite your comments.

- Margaret McCann,  Interim Faculty Chair

"Inglorious Nocturne
oil on canvas
  47"x 62"

I understand that this artwork is creating controversy and discussion within the school community. I am very aware of the taboo nature of this imagery and realize the potential for it to be perceived as offensive.  This is not my intention.

In no way am I trying to perpetuate the ideas of this hateful community. Instead, I want to unveil a never-ending trend of hate, prejudice and disillusion that is present in our culture. In all of my work at this time I am interested in fully capturing the viewer's attention through beauty and seductive coloring that then forces them to witness horrific subject matter. Overall, I wish to bring awareness to current social issues dealing with racism, hate, and injustice.

This painting is fueled by an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan that I had as a child. As a 7 year old, seeing this event was life-changing and revealed to me the simultaneous connection of beauty (in this case the fire, the costumes, the ritual) with abject horror (the brutal treatment and murder of minorities).  The controversial figures depicted in my painting are ghostly cowards disintegrating into the darkness presented through a palette of attraction. I am continuing a southern Gothic tradition that uses art to explore social issues and sheds light on the cultural failures of the American South.

- Holly Ann Sailors
, MFA 2012
Examples of artwork dealing with controversial themes (some w/links):
Philip Guston: "Edge of Town" and "Bad Habits" (top) 1970
("Philip Guston's Self-Doubt" by Donald Kuspit)

Chris Ofilli: "The Holy Virgin Mary" (link) 1996
Kara Walker
Kara Walker   (link to article: "Representing Race")
unknown racist illustration
Peter Saul: "OJ"1996
Glenn Ligon: "Benefit" 2007
Manet: "Olympia"

John Currin: "The Women of Franklin Street"
Lisa Yiskavage: "Pie Face"
Gustave Courbet: "Dreamers"
John Currin: "The Bra Shop" 1996

Lisa Yuskavage: "Day"
Carroll Dunham: "(Hers) Night and Day"
Gustave Courbet: "Origin of the World" 1866

Robert Mapplethorpe: "Fisting" 1978

Carolee Schneemann: "Interior Scroll"
Eric Fischl: "Tumbling Woman"

Jerome Witkin: "Taken" (section)

Jerome Witkin: "Butcher's Helper: Buchenwald"

Nicola Verlato
Gerhardt Richter: "Uncle Rudy"
Truppe: "The Fuhrer"
Lanzinger: "The Standard Bearer"
John Heartfield

McDermott & McGough
Comments welcome, anonymously is OK, too.