By S. Elliot Bowers, Cohort ’21
The first time I went to New York City was in April 2022, during my first winter residency with IDSVA. I did not know what to expect, and it was a short trip. Luckily, I was able to head back to NYC in February after receiving an invitation from one of my closest IDSVA colleagues, Veronika Golova ’21, and a recommendation from Dr. Simonetta Moro. Why was I going? The College Art Association conference (CAA) is back in person after three long years of the pandemic. Their 111th Annual Conference was from February 15th through the 18th, with 195 sessions held over four short days.
Once Veronika helped me get my bearings, I was able to navigate the city and as a small-town boy looking up at the scrapers, it was an amazing experience. The first item on my agenda was to find the closest diner for a big New York breakfast. Once breakfast was accomplished, it was onto registration at the conference held at the Midtown Hilton Hotel. I have been to many conferences throughout my academic career; however, this was the first one I’ve been to with three floors dedicated to the numerous speakers. The number of connections, networks, and schools collaborating to share research was phenomenal.
I attended several sessions with the largest queer research I have ever seen. I reside in Chicago, and that says a lot. I was overwhelmed with scholars like myself in the same research field. IDSVA prepares its students to present at a conference like CAA, and even as a second-year Ph.D. student, I feel ready to join this elite alliance of scholars. IDSVA students bring a new form of academic and philosophical research and approach that is rarer at CAA, that of the artist-philosopher.
Veronika joined me on the second day of the conference. New York City is amazing while also incredibly challenging. The day started by being caught in the rain as we power walked for 13 blocks, but we were on a mission. We were heading to to have lunch with one of our colleagues, Terrence Phearse, from cohort ’21. We met for hours. Once we got talking about philosophy and our readings, no one could stop us. After that, we headed back to the CAA conference. My favorite part about New York is that several of my colleagues live there, and it was wonderful to see them outside of residency as we have grown very close over the past year and a half.
On the third day of the conference, we met IDSVA students and alumni, from as many as 12 years ago, in a small gathering organized by Dr. Simonetta Moro. Seeing and speaking with them about their current career objectives and research was fascinating. I was in awe while meeting the alumni from all different years and even some current cohorts that are just starting dissertation work. I was grateful to Dr. Moro for her standout CAA presentation and for bringing us all together for dinner.
During the course of my stay in New York, I met amazing artists from many schools and was invited to several events. This trip was life-changing and liberating. I also was invited to speak at CAA panels next year. I am grateful to Veronika Golova of cohort ’21 for hosting me. IDSVA has become a community unlike any that I have had. It is an institution rich in friends, research, support, and of the highest educational caliber.