Jeanne van Heeswijk was in residence at the University of Puget Sound October 21 through 28, 2013. van Heeswijk is a visual artist who facilitates the creation of lively and diversified public spaces, typically from abandoned or derelict sites. Her socially engaged art practice generates new forms of encounter while challenging bureaucratic conventions and acquired rules. Van Heeswijk trained at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht and the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming in Tilburg in the Netherlands. She had her first solo exhibition in 1991 and has since exhibited at venues worldwide, including numerous biennials. Van Heeswijk’s projects distinguish themselves through their strong social involvement, often among hundreds of participants and over an extended period of time. She sees herself as a mediator who generates “interspaces,” contexts and crossovers within which new relations are established between groups of people and institutions. These connections lead to public improvements, self-organization of local groups, self-sustaining enterprises, and a stronger community identity.
Randy Bolton was in residence at the University of Puget Sound November 3 through November 8, 2013. Bolton, a printmaker, teaches at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he has been head of the print media department since 2002. Bolton’s work is characterized by an exploration of images that seem familiar and comforting on first glance, but become strange and disturbing on further consideration. His prints borrow from and adapt the nostalgia-evolving illustrations of early children’s books and science texts. In their original contexts these pictures served as visual tools to help educate young minds about acceptable morals and beliefs. In his work, however, Bolton has reclaimed these illustrations with a more subversive intent. By digitally altering and recombining fragments of these old illustrations, new meanings are suggested in which an undercurrent of uncertainty or apprehension undermines the initial flash of familiarity and comfort. Images originally intended to reflect childhood security and innocence become ironic metaphors of a chaotic world that is threatened by forces beyond our true comprehension and control. Bolton’s work is about the power these illustrations have in shaping our view of the world as children, following by the disillusionment that occurs when these images fail us as adults. Despite the seemingly amusing quality of the images he employs, there is an element of concern in Bolton’s work and a vague feeling that the valuable things in life are in jeopardy. Prior to his time at Cranbook, Bolton was professor of art at the University of Delaware. He received his B.F.A. from University of North Texas and his M.F.A. from The Ohio State University. He has taught at institutions across the country, including four years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Josephine Halvorson was in residence at the University of Puget Sound March 23 through March 29, 2014. Josephine 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 was in residence at the University of Puget Sound April 13 through April 18, 2014. Sandow 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.