“Another Place: The C12 Exhibition” is the third Master of fine Arts (MFA) alumni exhibition—an occasion of both continuity and change. Hunter awarded its first MFA degree in 1981, and in 1991 and 2001 mounted shows of alumni work to mark the passing decades. These exhibitions took place in the Hunter College / Times Square Gallery in the MFA Studio Building at 450 West 41st Street, which became the program’s home in 1989. A group of Hunter faculty, all graduates of the program, assembled the first alumni exhibition; five MFA students organized the second. Three current Master of Arts (MA) students in art history, Sophia Alexandrov, Lindsay Aveilhé, and Samantha Best, have curated the present exhibition, “Another Place: The C12 Exhibition.”
The Hunter College Art Galleries knit together the two sides of the Department of Art and Art History, as they are key sites for the training of both artists and art historians. The importance of exhibitions and their creation is clear for most studio artists. And placing artworks in context is a central concern of art history, whether modern, contemporary, ancient, or medieval. Such a project necessitates not only scholarly research and discussion, but also curation—building an argument through the presentation and juxtaposition of objects. Presenting exhibitions is an art historical endeavor to which our art history faculty is committed; a number of Hunter’s art historians work as well-regarded curators in New York City and beyond.
Context, situation, and placement are terms that guided student curators Alexandrov, Aveilhé, and Best in their choice of the artists included in this exhibition. Their charge was to research the nearly 450 students who graduated with an MfA degree between 2003 and 2013, to identify those who continue to work as artists (a hearteningly large number), and to build an exhibition from that pool. The final outcome of this exhaustive process is an exhibition of eight exemplary alumni who create work that extends beyond the gallery walls, to encompass artist’s books, performances, and events. The curatorial process was purposeful and collaborative. The curators began on the web and ended up in studios. Throughout the process they asked faculty, alumni, artists, and art historians if there were any artists they might have missed. Their studio visits provided something of a site map of the past decade in New York art and real estate—almost all were in Brooklyn. Manhattan was an outlier, as was Oakland, California. Alexandrov, Aveilhé, and Best’s final choices were driven by the quality of the work they saw, but also, as they looked and contemplated further, by the way the art spoke to a shared theme. What emerged was a “preoccupation with architecture, boundaries, and perimeters,” from which the theme “Another Place” was born.
This title has its metaphorical implications—pointing to the partially sheltered, yet open, experimental space that an MFA program can provide for artists or, conversely, to the studio one moves into and the art world one navigates as a professional artist. “Another Place” designates something quite specific, however, for this exhibition’s participants. An alumni show implies homecoming, but in this case our former students are engaging with a new and completely different space. Each of the artists included in this exhibition had his or her thesis exhibition in the Times Square Gallery on 41st Street. for these practitioners and the decade they represent, the MFA building at 205 Hudson Street, is, rather literally, another place. The program and a new generation of students moved into the Tribeca building in August 2013, and we installed our first thesis exhibition in the gallery in the spring of 2014. “Another Place” inaugurates our second year in the building and the use of purpose-built studios, labs, and shops that match the ambitions of the program. A decade from now, when we again survey our alumni, 205 Hudson Street will have long since become home.
“Another Place: The C12 Exhibition” is made possible by the sponsorship of founder and Chief Investment Officer Stephen King of C12 Capital, who, in addition to providing funding for this exhibition, has supported the MFA program through the C12 Emerging Artist fellowship. Awarded during their graduate thesis exhibition, the C12 fellowship offers an unprecedented opportunity for selected MFA students to continue their art-making practice and develop their careers. In addition to expressing our appreciation to Stephen King of C12 Capital, I extend my gratitude to Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab for her ongoing commitment to the Department of Art and Art History and to the Hunter College Art Galleries.
Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Chair, Department of Art and Art History
Executive Director, Hunter College Art Galleries
Hunter College, The City University of New York