Professor Emeritus Suzanne Bravender, former Divison Dean Linda Malm, and State Senator Jack Scott, a former president of Pasadena City Collete, at the gallery reception commemorating 20 years of the Artist-in-Residence program, January 12, 2006.
ALEX KRITSELIS, Dean, Visual Arts and Media Studies Division
The idea that artists look at the work of other artists is as old as art itself. The Greeks looked at the Egyptians; the Japanese studied the Chinese, and the Romans copied the Greeks. One thousand years later Renaissance artists reaffirmed the humanist canon by resurrecting the authority of classicism. Among specific artists, Picasso was influenced by African art; Henry Moore observed Mayan sculpture. In the late 20th century, Yasumasa Morimura recreated Manet's Olympia by digitally inserting himself into the painting. Mike Bidlo appropriated and replicated the works of well-known artists like Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp as he repainted their masterworks by to their precise size using the same media and starting on the same date as the artist had with the original work. Museums and galleries around the world have begun to explore the influences, exchanges and dialogues among artists. This exploration of artistic relationships is reflected in shows such as the Picasso and Matisse exhibition at MoMA (2003), the Turner-Whistler-Monet show at the Grand Palais in Paris (2004), and the CÚzanne-Pissarro exhibition at LACMA (2005). It is no secret that each generation learns from the other, and that artists who respect the work of their contemporaries keep their antennas up. Furthermore, over the millennia, artists carefully and thoughtfully appropriated the thinking and technical achievements of others. In fact, artists of the twentieth century spoke openly for the first time about the practice of deconstruction and the copying of masterworks in order to study in depth the work of their predecessors. In this way, contemporary artists seek to understand and unlock secrets and pay homage to those whose works they admire.
Over the past two decades, the Artist-in-Residence program has brought to our college 20 significant visual artists from a number of continents and around the USA. These painters, print makers, sculptors, photographers and multimedia artists have represented almost every aspect of the art spectrum. An Artist-in-Residence program, in an art school setting, emphasizes the value of considering and studying their work. Such a program encourages the thoughtful exchange of ideas and interaction among students and master artists who care deeply about many of the same things. An Artist-in-Residence program is designed to celebrate the arts and to motivate and inspire. Invited artists have an opportunity to show their work, talk about their ideas and impart experiences. They demonstrate their techniques and creative processes, and discuss what turns them on and what motivates them to create. For a brief period of time, students and faculty also have the opportunity to slow down, to become listeners and to raise questions about issues surrounding visual arts and artistic production. During the weeklong residency, all art division programs are enhanced by the multiple interactions with a renowned artist who is also a master teacher as excitement is generated by his or her presence. Concurrently, the exhibition of the artists' works mounted in the art gallery encourages the broader college community to view the art and ask questions of the artist. In short, it is an art feast with something for everyone to sample.
As with every great idea, nourishing, shaping and sustaining the program to be relevant for its time is critical. Each generation of artist/teachers who oversee the program has the responsibility to finely calibrate the process of selection so that the most challenging artist for that year is invited. Twenty years ago the administration of Pasadena City College, along with the PCC Foundation, and generous and visionary individuals and art organizations from the community, came together to create a consortium. Together they established the financial base for an extraordinary program. Twenty years later, the same partners continue to support the vision, verifying the results and endorsing the exciting path the program is charting for the next 20 years.