by Michelle Renee Perkins
This year’s annual College Art Association (CAA) conference was held in Chicago, my current hometown. As a faculty member in a community college setting (Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago), the CAA conference is one of the few chances I have to interact with peers in higher education. I always believed that this conference offers a wide range of opportunities to engage in research activities along with time to network and interact with colleagues within my discipline. I see this happening for others from the larger four-year institutions and the art institutions, but there is no Howard or Hampton University Art Alumni Association and my current department has only two art faculty members including me. Well, I must say, this year was possibly the 6th conference I have attended, and it was by far the best. Why? IDSVA. I am currently in my first year at IDSVA, and my studies thus far helped this year’s experience at CAA to be more relevant because I was able to cast more of the information presented in the context of art theory and philosophy. They were finally speaking a language I could understand with more depth, and I found that to be a testament to the learning process I am engaged in through IDSVA’s curriculum. Many of the presentations brought that “White Book” to life (Art In Theory 1900-2000 edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood).
As one tends to do when going to a big outdoor music festival, I went through the arduous process searching for the right sessions to feed both my creative and intellectual sides, all the while keeping in mind the time and place for sessions where IDSVA students were presenting or chairing a panel. As a first-year student, I was very proud to attend the IDSVA presentations. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the process in action and to see that George Smith is right, again! We are being well prepared. I’m very proud to say that I, me, Michelle, actually formulated a question that I asked in every session I attended. And I found that the simple act of asking a question seemed to be the thing that allowed me to engage with attendees after the sessions.
Having the opportunity to see my peers and the IDSVA administration in an informal setting exceeded my expectations. The IDSVA reception and information session proved a great opportunity to share thoughts about the program to interested parties. I invited Professors Kimberly LeDee and Frank Martin from South Carolina State University to attend with three of their students. They were very impressed by the curriculum and the spirit of hospitality they experienced. As a group, we attended sessions together, searched for new books for independent studies, attended art receptions, and most importantly, we broke bread together. I see that interaction among cohorts is a valuable part of this process because there are so many brilliant minds that we must also learn from each other! Plus, I was also finally ably to meet Chicago artist Theaster Gates. What more could I ask for. See you next year in New York!
Student presentations at CAA, 2014:
Kate Farrington, 3rd year student
Session: The Rise of the Artist-as-Curator
“The One Hotel and the Aesthetics of Place at dOCUMENTA (13)”
Brooke Chroman, 5th year student
Session: À La Mode: The Contemporary Art and Fashion System
“Taking off A Formal Coat: How Bill Cunningham’s Photographs Rethink the Aesthetic Discourses of Fashion Today”
Leonie Bradbury, 3rd year student
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
Session: Beyond the Gallery Walls, Chair
Jason A. Hoelscher, 2nd year student
Session: Painting in the Digital Age: Twenty-First Century Recontextualization
“Diffused Art and Diffracted Objecthood: Painting in the Distributed Field”