The visiting artist lecture series at Columbia is back up and running its full schedule this semester. Our first guest for the semester was Latoya Ruby Frazier.As you may know from the great number of blog posts I have written about the Visiting Artist Lecture series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), the way this works is that we invite an artist or critic to come in and give a lecture, and on the following day that person comes into graduate seminar and gives another talk along with critiquing a number of grad students that have signed up to show their work to him or her.
For one of this semester’s artists, Latoya Ruby Frazier was invited to come in. Her lecture was interesting, but raised a number of concerns I have with her work during the first public lecture. Those concerns we further heightened during our private talk the following day. There is one thing you can be certain of if you participate in discussions (or even just listen) for long enough, and that is that you will run into people you disagree with vehemently, and even more often you will hear that person talk and see the hypocrisy of what they are saying. To me, these experiences are always interesting and educational with regard to how I view my own work and how it functions in the world, and also informs what I do not want from my work.
And while I disagree with almost everything she said about her own work, and about a number of political viewpoints, she was very good (at least I thought) at looking at student work and providing suggestions and critique. Sometimes wonderful artists will come into crit and are really unable to voice advice that is usable. But Frazier, coming through the graduate school process, and being quite aware and alert to how art functions, was able to give insightful and thoughtful feedback to the students that were showing work.
The other aspect that I enjoyed was that almost all of the graduate students came to the Friday crit session. Usually, the third-year students (although they are always invited) do not show up unless they are showing work, but it was nice to see nearly all of us gathered in the same space as it happens so seldom these days).