Living Art: Visiting Artist Series

Living Art is a visiting artist series supported by the Art Department at the University of Puget Sound and funded by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Living Art provides our students, staff, faculty, and the Tacoma community with deep exposure to the art world today through opportunities to learn from and develop professional relationships with nationally and internationally renowned artists, art critics, and curators of modern and contemporary art. Artists who are invited to participate in the Living Art program visit Puget Sound for seven to ten days, interacting closely with our art majors in the classroom via lectures, demonstrations of technique, individual meetings with students, and constructive critiques of student artwork. Artists also interact with the community at large through public events including lectures, town hall style meetings, and exhibitions of their work in the Kittredge Gallery at the University of Puget Sound. In the fall  of 2013, artists Jeanne van Heeswijk and Randy Bolton visited campus.  This spring, the Art Department is proud to welcome two more artists to campus as part of the Living Art program:  Josephine Halvorson and Sandow Birk.  Halvorson will be in residence at the University of Puget Sound March 24 through March 28, 2014 and Birk will be in residence April 14 through April 18, 2014.  Click here for a list of public events.

Josephine Halvorson makes paintings on-site, face to face with an object in its environment.  Often no more than an arm’s length away, she detects variations in texture, light, and temperature, transcribing these perceptions through the medium of paint.  The result is an intimate portrait of the object, capturing both a natural likeness as well as the often unseen or overlooked character of her chosen subject.  Halvorson holds a BFA from The Cooper Union (2003) and a MFA from Columbia University (2007). She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Vienna (2003-2004), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2009), and a New York Foundation for the Arts Award (2010). She currently serves as a Critic in the MFA program in Painting at Yale University.

Sandow Birk is a well-traveled graduate of the Otis/Parson's Art Institute. Frequently developed as expansive, multi-media projects, his works have dealt with contemporary life in its entirety. With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work have included inner city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war, and prisons, as well as surfing and skateboarding. He was a recipient of an NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City in 1995 to study mural painting, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and a Fulbright Fellowship for painting to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting, followed by a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship in 2001. In 2007 he was an artist in residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008. His most recent project involves a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America.  Around 2005, as an outgrowth of his travels in Islamic countries and as a response to political events around the world, including the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Birk began to read and closely study the Qur’an in order to better understand Islam. Over the course of his studies, he began to envision an art project that would result in what he calls “a personal Qur’an,” a series of artworks that would explore how this important religious text relates to contemporary American life, and thereby help him and his viewers develop a more nuanced understanding of Islam.  Birk hopes that others will be inspired to think in broader terms about the Qur’an, and what it intrinsically means to be Muslim; that it is not a state of “otherness” but instead a shared experience of the world through a lens of different cultures.