The Annual 2012

School of Visual Arts

A Female Perspective

“The Influentials”

In early 2011, Carrie Lincourt, director of Development and Alumni Affairs at SVA, approached Amy Smith-Stewart, an independent curator, with a question: What did inspiration mean to contemporary female artists? The answer came in the form of an exhibition that featured the work of 19 female SVA alumni as well as the works of individuals who had influenced the work of those women. “The Influentials,” was presented at the Visual Arts Gallery in August 2011, drawing critical praise from New York magazine, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post.

In New York magazine’s preview of the fall arts season, Carly Berwick wrote:

The anxiety of influence has given way to the joys of networking, in this group show of artists whose junior members happen to be SVA grads. Discoveries abound: Inka Essenhigh tips her hat to Francesco Clemente, Lisa Kirk to David Hammons, and Kate Gilmore and Mika Rottenberg give props to Marilyn Minter.

In her review for the British journal Art Monthly, Kathy Battista, director of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, offered a glimpse of the show:

The entrance gallery is dominated by two large sculptures: Marianne Vitali’s Double Decker Outhouse, 2011, and Michelle Lopez’s Woadsunner (edit), 2009. Vitale’s work, made of reclaimed lumber, reaches to a height of 12 feet, with a structure that combines high modernist and vernacular architectural tropes. Lopez’s sculpture is mounted on the wall and is formed by a discarded car chassis partially covered by leather, which both conceals and reveals the structure beneath. The contrast of materials—industrial steel and supple leather—is indicative of the work’s existence between two genres, straddling painting and sculpture. This is also symbolic of the gender divide. In the accompanying catalogue the artist states: ‘I like to think about androgyny in art—where both male and females exist simultaneously.’

Both Lopez and Vitale chose male figures as their ‘influentials,’ whose works also correspond in their diminutive scale, contrasting with the ambitiously scaled pieces of the younger artists. Vitale chose Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, who is represented by a poster from his seven-hour masterpiece Sátántangó, 1994, which was a formative viewing experience for her while studying at SVA.

Art Monthly

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