SMFA Traveling Scholars   

Saturday, April 7–Saturday, May 5, 2012
Mrs. E. Ross Anderson Auditorium
Press release

Opening Reception: April 9, 5–7 pm
With performance by Andi Sutton 6–6:45 pm

Artist Gallery Talks: April 11, 12:30–1:30 pm
Milo Fay, Greg Mencoff, Christopher Mark Robinson, Andi Sutton

The SMFA Traveling Scholarship program was established over a century ago to support independent travel for SMFA students and alumni. Since its first funding by J. William Paige in 1894, it has received many generous contributions and has become one of the largest travel grants offered by any art school in the United States, awarding between $80,000 and $100,000 annually.

The exhibition presents six very different investigations, the curatorial perspective yielding to six fully autonomous statements. As a result, what the exhibition reflects, perhaps more than anything else, is the School's determination, and the Traveling Scholarship program's intention, to nurture individual development.

The current exhibition presents work by the six award recipients selected in 2010: Milo Fay, Atsuko Ito, Soojin Kim, Greg Mencoff, Christopher Mark Robinson and Andi Sutton.

Milo Fay received a BA from the University of Denver (1965), a JD from Golden Gate School of Law (1982) and a Diploma (2009) and Fifth Year Certificate (2010) from SMFA.

These images on tintypes explore the collective memories of childhood experience. Historical photographic processes refer viewers to memories that may not be in their past but have archetypal associations. As a child, I played in a dollhouse that was built for my grandmother in the 1890s. Tiny furniture, dolls and artwork filled the miniature home. As I photographed, I found myself unearthing uncomfortable childhood memories that were permeated by deeply felt emotions.

Atsuko Ito received a BM from Berklee College of Music (2005) and a Diploma (2009) and Fifth Year Certificate (2012) from SMFA.

Leaving the house, we are melting into society. It is like sugar dissolving quickly in a glass of water.

Soojin Kim received her BS from Ewha W University, Seoul (1999), an MS from Boston University (2002) and a Diploma (2009) and Fifth Year Certificate (2010) from SMFA.

Objects have the power of carrying memories across space and time, spanning cultures and generations. I interpret images of objects in the languages of painting to create an emotional and sensual form of communication. As a young adult, I came to the United States to study and was exposed to Western art in a museum context. This had a deep impact on my aesthetic sensibility and led to a change in the subjects I studied.

After the illness and death of my father in Korea, all I could access was the memory of him describing his happy moments with American cookies and snacks during the Korean War; those moments of joy—eating, biting, chewing, licking, cracking, stacking, sorting.

Greg Mencoff received a BFA from SMFA and Tufts University (1981) and a Diploma (1981) and Fifth Year Certificate (1983) from SMFA.

The premise of these sculptures focuses on the architecture of things— how and why objects originate, the process of construction and what is their role, or utility, if any. My interest lies in the history and perceived relevance of built forms. For some of the sculptures, it is my intent to suggest function without any specific purpose. With others it is to propose an object as nothing more than what it is, without any particular association, presenting a form that is self-referencing.

Christopher Mark Robinson received a BFA from SMFA and Tufts University (2005) and an MFA from Bard College (2012).

Christopher Mark Robinson presents here excerpts from a series that examines the relationship between artists, patrons and the public sphere through institutional representations of historical guilt and personal tragedy. Initiated during the artist's participation in a residency funded by the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, F.V.S.—a Hamburg based non-profit—the complete series re-presents, at an enlarged scale, nine documents produced by that foundation to address either their founder's political incrimination or the recent suicide of their chairperson. For the present exhibition, the artist includes just three of these works, all of which are related to the latter tragedy exclusively. Also presented is a slide projection of Letter Rack, a seventeenth-century Dutch oil painting by Wallerant Vaillant.

Andi Sutton received a BFA from SMFA and Tufts University (2003) and BA from Tufts University (2003).

My interactive, interdisciplinary practice explores the catalytic potential of performance art and public intervention. This work is informed by my interest in the "culture" of/in horticulture and the human relationship and community building potential that emerges with the synthesis of performance art methodology and agricultural practice. Gardens, seeding and cultivation play a strong role, both literally and metaphorically, as do the tools of dialogue, collaboration and exchange.

Gardens of the Future: Plot(ing) in Memorial is part of a new body of work that uses gardens as sites for dialogue, intervention and reflection on the ongoing impact of climate change. It is a habitat for conversation and contemplation, grown of the invasive plant Oriental Bittersweet. Activated and transformed by contributions from the visiting public before and throughout the exhibition, the piece documents the emotional landscape of fear, hope and loss that accompanies contemporary narratives of the environment, the climate and the future.

Award recipients were selected by two juries. Work submitted to the alumni competition was juried by: Dennis Kois, Director of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and Joao Ribas, Curator of the M.I.T. List Visual Arts Center. Selections from the Fifth Year Certificate program were made by: Joseph Carroll of Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston, and Mary Schneider Enriquez, Houghton Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums. These juries made their selections independently, guided exclusively by the quality of the work submitted.