Any creative endeavor — from visual arts to design to socially engaged and entrepreneurial practices — is made more real, is better connected and is simply better when outside voices lend their influence to the creative process. That’s why visiting artist and critic programs are an essential part of the education of artists and designers. And at MICA, graduate students are exposed to up to 100 visiting artists each semester.
As Marcus Civin, associate dean, curriculum and assessment for Graduate Studies, explained, “We have a steady rotation of visitors who bring in experience from design firms, galleries, museums, publishing, community organizing and education. They provide fresh and often unexpected perspectives — and they model the lives that our students are starting to lead. There are so many speakers here, that some days at MICA feel like a buzzing conference hub instead of a chalk-dusty school. I sometimes say that MICA is a veritable Las Vegas of speakers!”
Because creative makers and thinkers that can, teach — and they are bringing their diverse points of view and life lessons to MICA. Here are just a handful of those impressive professionals who will be sharing their experience with MICA’s graduate students in 2017.
Resident Artist, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Arts
Linda Bills, a noted multidisciplinary artist based in Baltimore, has been a resident artist at MICA for 15 years. This long-running association with the College has allowed her to establish deep one-on-one relationships with students — and she revels providing them with real-world insight, saying “I feel like I’m helping them to find their creative voices.”
With a body of work that includes prints, drawings, sculpture, installation and collaborative dance, she has exhibited at such venues as the Museum of Arts and Design, the National Museum of American Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Delaware Art Museum. Bills is also the recipient of numerous accolades including three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and two grants from the Maryland State Arts Council.
Visiting Critic, LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting
An art critic for The Nation, Barry Schwabsky wants to share his unique perspective with MICA students as visiting critic in the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting.
“When people are in art school, they’re in a little self-contained bubble,” he said. “I think it’s really important that they have people who come in from outside the bubble that can give more of a sense of the world they’re going to go into with their art.”
Schwabsky has written for such publications as New Left Review and Artforum and has taught at such institutions as Yale University and Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2016, a selection of Schwabsky’s art criticism from The Nation titled “The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present” was published.
Artist-in-Residence, Mount Royal School of Art
A New York-based visual artist whose work includes elements of both art installation and performance, Claude Wampler focuses on the objects she creates and the influence of the audience on those objects. That’s one of the messages that she hopes MICA students take away from working with her as artist-in-residence in Mount Royal School of Art.
“MICA students are impressive because they’re very diverse in terms of the art that they make and where they are in their developmental studio practices,” she said.
Wampler’s solo exhibitions and performances have taken place at such national venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and internationally at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan and the Yokohama Triennale in Japan.
Artist-in-Residence and Acting Director, Photographic & Electronic Media
Laura Parnes, an award-winning artist whose narrative film and video art has been shown around the globe, understands that art education is about much more than learning a craft.
“There are a lot of things involved with being an artist, whether it’s selling your art or doing lectures,” Parnes said. “I think it’s really important for the students to be engaged with a working artist who has practical experience.”
Currently artist-in-residence in the M.F.A. in Photographic and Electronic Media program, Parnes brings a wealth of experience as a digital storyteller to the students she is engaging with at MICA. Her work has been screened and exhibited at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands; the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece; and the LOOP Festival in Barcelona, Spain. In the United States, her work has been featured at such places as the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art; New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum.
She received a Creative Capital Award in 2016 for Tour Without End, a film installation project that will feature musicians, poets and artists. She also was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow in 2013 and an NYFA recipient in 2014. A book of Parnes’ scripts titled Blood and Guts in Hollywood: Two Screenplays by Laura Parnes was published in 2009.
Parnes looks forward to the same type of dialog with MICA students. “It’s a great experience to visit with students who are incredibly engaged in their practice and to connect with them and have conversations that are related not just to contemporary art but to contemporary culture in general,” she said. “The students at MICA I find to be some of the most engaged students in that way.”
Visiting Artist, Mount Royal School of Art
Not one to be put into a box, Mark Harris is an artist, writer and curator whose artistic practice encompasses video, painting, drawing and photography. As a visiting artist in Mount Royal School of Art, Harris wants to help students move past their inhibitions.
“One hopes you enable them to see what’s great about what they’re doing and to gain the confidence to push that to its limits,” Harris said.
Harris’s work has been lauded both in the United States and internationally. In 2015, in received an Ohio Arts Council Excellence Award for Interdisciplinary Media. In 2009, he received a Creative Capital/ Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and in 2005, he received an Arts Council England Fellowship with the Long March Project in Beijing.