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Grace Hartigan Documentary

Saturday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Falvey Hall, Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave. The reservations-only event will feature a post-screening Q&A with co-producers Janice Stanton and Alice Shure of Amici Films as well as a reception.

Posted 09.08.08 by MICA Media Relations

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and Maryland Film Festival invite the public to a free, premiere screening of Grace Hartigan-Shattering Boundaries Saturday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Falvey Hall, Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave. The reservations-only event will feature a post-screening Q&A with co-producers Janice Stanton and Alice Shure of Amici Films as well as a reception.

"I had made other films about artists and was told by many people that I should research Grace Hartigan because she is such an interesting person and has such a great archive of work," Shure said. "As women, Janice and I were blown away by her guts, her courage."

The 36-minute documentary includes studio interviews with Hartigan, who has served as director of MICA's Hoffberger School of Painting since its inception in 1965, five years after she moved to Baltimore.

"Grace Hartigan is not only one of the major artists of our time, she is one of the foremost teachers," said MICA President Fred Lazarus. "She has mentored and been a role model for hundreds of students. This film provides great insights into this remarkable artist, teacher, and individual. We are honored to have it screened here at MICA and grateful to the filmmakers for producing it. This evening will provide a well deserved tribute to a Baltimore Diva."

Stanton and Shure interviewed President Lazarus for the documentary as well as some of Hartigan's recent Hoffberger students: Erin Cluley '05, Jarrett Davis '05, Jeriah Hildwine ‘07, Tonya Ingersol ‘02, Stuart Jackson ‘07, Stanley Squirewell ‘07, and Elizabeth Wade '07.

"Grace tended to develop different relationships with each of her graduate students based on what she thought we needed," Cluley said. "With some of us, she was nurturing and with others, not so much. She was very nurturing with me...maybe it was because I looked scared."

One of the first young artists to aspire to Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s and '50s and one of only a few women artists to participate in the movement, Hartigan adopted the commitment of her friends, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, to the art-making process.

She was trained in mechanical engineering draftsmanship. Her pursuit of art-making was inspired initially by the work of Matisse and encouraged by her associations with artists, writers, dramatists, and musicians in New York City. During her time in New York she connected with some of the most important artists in American art history that remained lifelong friends and artistic allies, including Milton Avery, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko.

Her vibrant artistic vision has continued throughout her long life and career, with her work transitioning from pure abstraction, often inspired by poetry or music, to Pop Art, and to a figurative, expressionistic style inspired by art history from the ancient to the Modern periods.

"As the title of the film suggests, she really broke a lot of boundaries," Stanton said. "She didn't let herself be pigeonholed. She chartered her own course. The overarching story is how she survived tremendous personal tragedy through her painting."

Other Shattering Boundaries participants included Rex Stevens, chair of MICA's drawing and general fine arts departments as well as Hartigan's studio manager and longtime friend; Suzi Cordish, chairperson of Maryland Art Place, MICA trustee, and longtime friend; Jay Fisher, deputy director for curatorial affairs of Baltimore Museum of Art; Anne Umland, curator at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Barbara Haskell, curator of early 20th century art at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Robert Mattison, professor at Lafayette College and author of Grace Hartigan A Painter's World; Irving Sandler, author, critic and art historian; Terrence Diggory, professor at Skidmore College; Helen Langa, author and art historian; gallerist Julian Weissman; niece Donna Sessee; Stacey Epstein, curator at Hollis Taggart Galleries; and painter Archie Rand.

Reservations are required for the free screening, filmmakers' talk, and reception. Call 410-225-2262 or e-mail advanceart@mica.edu. Tickets will be held at the door until 7:20 p.m.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.