Art Studio Lecture Series Offers Window into Artistic Practice

By Andrew Armas, Arts Initiative Story Corps

What better way to get into the mind of great artists than to hear them talk intimately about their work? That is just what the UC Davis Art Studio Lecture Series aims to do as it continues its year-long cycle on January 26, playing host in Winter and Spring quarters to an impressive stable of artists such as Kalup Linzy, Stephanie Syjuco, and Carter.

Because an artistic practice can often be a solitary one, and one that is infrequently brought to the eye of the general public, the lecture series offers the audience a rare opportunity to witness the practice and thought process of contemporary artists. It is also a critical resource for undergraduate and graduate art students, allowing them to see how established artists talk about their work in a public setting.

“The largest art center closest to us is in San Francisco, which is over an hour away. To have well known working artists come to our small community is extremely important,” said Danielle Gallieti, a second-year MFA student in the Art Studio program. “I can talk to my students not only about how these artists fit into the contemporary art scene but also how they relate to the work that the students produce.”

As Gallieti attests, the series enriches the education of UC Davis art students who might not have an opportunity to get to talks hosted elsewhere.

The roster of artists is constantly changing and allows for artists of different backgrounds and working in different media to visit UC Davis and share who they are as an artist. The Art Studio Program also offers a wider look into the contemporary art world by inviting art critics, gallery owners, and museum directors to speak.

January’s speaker is Kalup Linzy, a New York-based video and performance artist. Linzy, who is a queer African-American man, grew up in the South and was raised primarily by women. This upbringing, coupled with the ubiquity of soap operas that were shown in his household during his youth, played a large part in the genesis of his work. Linzy is best known for creating videos that satirize soap operas, specifically the sensational and narrative aspects of them. In Linzy’s videos he performs the majority of the roles, which all happen to be women. His drag performances confront issues not only of gender and sexual identity but also of race, class, and familial relationships.

In February, the series will feature Stephanie Syjuco, a mixed media artist based in San Francisco who works primarily in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional media. Syjuco creates sculptural objects out of low-cost materials such as wood, cardboard, foam board, and tape. In Syjuco’s work appropriation and what she terms “Fictional Fabrication” play a large role. Syjuco critiques capitalism, globalization, and culture by recreating well-known objects such as designer purses, clothes, and furniture. Through this re-creation process, objects often become distorted. It is this distortion that fascinates Syjuco.

“What interests me are the mistranslations…when an object or image or concept is remade and shifted away from their corrected territories,” said Syjuco. This process often replicates counterfeit culture and the way in which replications of high-end products become distributed to local, often poorer communities.

The final speaker for winter quarter will be Carter, a New York-based artist whose artistic practice cannot be easily categorized; his artwork spans numerous media including painting, photography, and more recently, film and video. The majority of his work deals with relationships among body, mind, and personal identity. His mixed media diagrammatic drawings of human heads are among the most well-known of Carter’s work. Although these heads are not technically portraits, they speak largely to identity and the impermanence of the human body.

Carter’s lecture is of special importance for two reasons: Carter is an alumnus of the UC Davis MFA program, and his talk will be a moderated discussion. Dan Spence, a San Francisco-based artist, will discuss Carter’s work with the artist and offer a more conversational approach to the presentation.

The Art Studio Lecture Series will be held in the TCS building, once a month at 4:30 p.m. The talks are free and open to the public.

January 26-Kalup Linzy
February 16-Stephanie Syjuco
March 15- Carter
April 19-Larry Rinder
May 17-Shimon Attie