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.
Liss LaFleur visited the University of Puget Sound virtually in the spring of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Events included her Fruit exhibit in the Kittredge Gallery, an artist talk, and a critique of student work.
Please see her exhibit in this Walkthrough Video. You can also view her Virtual Artist Talk.
Liss LaFleur is an interdisciplinary artist who works with video, new media, and performance. By merging digital and physical space, she explores queer identity, the future of feminism, and historical narratives. She is a 20-21 Kennedy Citizen Artist Fellow, and in 2018 she was named an Immersive Scholar by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including presentations at the TATE Modern, UK; Cannes Court Métrage, FR; PBS/ POV Digital; the Reykjavik Art Museum, IS; the Museum of Glass, US; Sister Gallery, AU; and the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art, South Korea. LaFleur received an MFA in Media Art from Emerson College and is an Assistant Professor of New Media Art in the College of Visual Art & Design at the University of North Texas. She is currently represented by Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas.
Alix Henry visited the University of Puget Sound on October 7-11, 2019. Events included a film screening, an Art + Sci Salon event, and a collaborative, sustainable garden project. Alix is a licensed architect practicing in Taos, NM, and an adjunct assistant professor at Webster University. She teaches two classes, "Living On/Off the Grid" and "Global Ecologies and Sustainable Living." She has dedicated her architectural practice to principles of sustainability; and worked for six years with Solar Survival Architecture (predecessor to Earthship Biotecture), where she was an architectural intern, builder, and manager of Earthship rentals. She lives with her husband and two kids in an Earthship built in the Greater World Community. They have lived there since 1998.
Humaira Abid visited the University of Puget Sound from October 22 through October 26, 2018.
Abid is an internationally recognized sculptor with a vibrant artistic practice who also serves as an instructor at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She was born in Pakistan and earned her MFA with honors from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. Her work engages with the theme of immigration as well as with important women’s issues. Abid “picks up ordinary images from everyday life and makes them extraordinary. Her basic interest is situations in ‘relationships’ and their after-effects.” She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, including Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Mauritius, Nepal, Kenya, Dubai, Bolivia, Germany, Russia, UK, USA, and won many awards and grants, including an Artist Trust Fellowship in 2015.
Henry Mandell visited the University of Puget Sound from April 9 through April 13, 2018.
About the artist: Patterns have their own rationale. Looking at complex visual abstractions, our minds can know things before names for them are found. A kind of pre-cognitive knowledge about how things are: I’m interested in experimenting with this.
Some artworks are composed of text that is transformed into patterns from the outlines of all the letters. Stories, data, news, poetry, anything transcribed can be a starting point. I work by hand without automation, using digital tools to re-purpose the text. The work oscillates between a sense of the text (a sense that is without a direct reference, since the text can no longer be discerned) and the originality of the shapes.
Other groups of works are built up by hand from lines and geometric shapes. This work is active, not passive. This is intentional, as the artwork comes alive and is activated in the optical sense when viewed. I’m using new tools and techniques unique to the work that make this possible. Subtle, fine details right at the limit of perception are harmonizing visually. For me, it's about the sympathetic reaction the patterns evoke for the viewer, like a meditation on space, color, and form.
I’m from New York City. I continue to live and work in the New York Area. I received a BFA in Fine Art from Ithaca College and went on to study art at The School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Jeanne van Heeswijk was in residence at the University of Puget Sound from October 21 through 28, 2013. van Heeswijk is a visual artist who facilitates lively and diversified public spaces, typically from abandoned or derelict sites. Her socially engaged art practice generates new forms of an 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 stronger community identity.
Randy Bolton was in residence at the University of Puget Sound from 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 at 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. These pictures served as visual tools to help educate young minds about acceptable morals and beliefs in their original contexts. In his work, however, Bolton has reclaimed these illustrations with 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 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. Before his time at Cranbrook, Bolton was a professor of art at the University of Delaware. He received his B.F.A. from the 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 from 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 and the often unseen or overlooked character of her chosen subject. Halvorson holds a BFA from The Cooper Union (2003) and an 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 from 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 a painting to Rio de Janeiro in 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 to understand Islam better. 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.