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May 22, 2014


Annual pilgrimage immerses students in the New York City art world


For more than a decade, Visual Arts faculty members have organized an annual group trip to New York City, designed to give students concentrated exposure to the New York art scene during a time of year when the city is bustling with extraordinary art events, most notably The Armory Show and The Whitney Biennial. For many students, the trip is a first-ever opportunity to be truly immersed in the art world — to see works by artists they’ve studied in school, to discover new art, and to begin to locate themselves within a broad range of professional art activities.

In my view, this is just a tremendous thing for the students to experience. There is no place on earth like New York when it comes to the sheer density of first-hand encounters with art, including international art fairs, like the Armory, or international trend-setting exhibitions, like the Whitney Biennial. Art students learn so much from virtual experiences. As an educator, I want to give them as many real experiences as possible and the New York trip is exactly that.

In previous years the group travelled by bus, which ate up nearly two days of the trip for travel time. This year, thanks to a fundraising art sale organized by Painting Department Chair Tommy White, the gang flew into Newark airport and took trains into the city, allowing for far more time in the city.

After checking in to the hotel and having a few hours of free time, the group made their way to the first event of the trip: a CIA alumni party at The New Museum. The event also allowed the group full access to museum’s current suite of exhibitions. Students were particularly responsive to a room-sized installation by Polish artist Pawel Althamer, occupying the entire fourth floor of The New Museum. Viewers became creators as Althamer provided paint and brushes for an ever-evolving mural covering the walls and floors of the gallery. Many students donned paint smocks and contributed to the work while others observed, shooting pictures and videos with their phones.

The following morning the group attended The Armory Show, which spotlighted over 200 galleries from 29 countries. For some, the experience was simply overwhelming. Others reveled in the frenzy of the art world marketplace, talking to gallery owners and getting up-close views of works by every artist known to the international art market.

On day three, the group met at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where they were given a guided tour by one of the exhibition’s curators, Michelle Grabner. Moving from room to room, Grabner explained her curatorial process and provided insight into her choices. While the experience was a first for many of the students, it turns out that it was one of historical significance as well— the 2014 Biennial is the last to be held in the famous Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. The museum will soon relocate to a new location downtown. Along with forays into the Chelsea galleries, the Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum, this year’s New York trip provided students with a jam-packed art experience — one that has left them clamoring about the trip for weeks afterward, now knowing first-hand a good deal of what the New York art scene has to offer.

Dan Tranberg has been a visiting instructor in CIA’s Painting and Foundation departments since 2000. He has published more than 750 articles on art in national and international publications and has exhibited his paintings in more that 40 exhibitions.

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