Written by: Maggie Duff
Over 45 art majors and faculty from the Myers School of Art were scrambling into a charter bus in the parking lot of Folk Hall last Saturday. They headed to New York City for the annual Student Art League (SAL) Spring Break trip, run by printmaking teacher Hui-Chu Yin.
Quite a few aspects of the trip made this year’s visit particularly enjoyable. First of all, the weather was fantastic. In addition to this, Saturday and Sunday were the last days of a number of important art exhibitions in NYC.
One of these exhibitions was the Whitney Museum’s “Biennial.” This show featured some of the freshest, most innovative contemporary artists of our time. Artists pushed the boundaries of what “art” is by making highly conceptual work that included mixed media, film, installation, interactive and performance art.
Almost none of the pieces were purely two-dimensional or even remotely representational. If that wasn’t inspiring enough for Myers students, they were sure to be amazed by the fact that the majority of the featured artists were as young as themselves.
The Whitney show was not unlike much of the art featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA’s) contemporary exhibition space, MoMA PS1. Visitors entered spaces such as Surasi Kisolwong’s “Golden Ghost” (2011), a comment on the current state of our consumer society and economy which consisted of a large pit filled with industrial yarn that visitors could wade through in search of gold chains.
Another amazing show that students were lucky to catch before it closed Sunday night was the Armory Show. As opposed to a traditional museum show, this was a collection of galleries which displayed the work of world-famous modern and contemporary artists in order to sell the work. The show featured work from monumental artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Chuck Close, all on display for sale. Here, Myers students could see how the art market really works: where work is sold, how much it costs and who is buying it.
One last show that students saw shortly before its close was the Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective of sculptor John Chamberlain. This, along with the Whitney’s “Biennial,” the MoMA, MoMA PS1 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art were all free, thanks to SAL funding and careful planning.
Many students also visited sites such as the Natural History Museum, Times Square, Staten Island and Ground Zero. If that wasn’t exhausting enough, many found time to explore the innumerable cafes, shops, restaurants and galleries in various neighborhoods. It seemed that everything—the weather, the timing of the shows and our spring break—fell together perfectly for Myers students to have a thrilling, inspiring trip to New York City.