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A public conversation probes art deeply

Thought experiment
By NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  February 27, 2013

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'TRIUMPH' By Alex Da Corte, 2012.
The Peninsula School is a weekly art discussion forum open to the public launched within the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA by graduate sculpture student Rob Doane. The Phoenix spoke with Doane and ICA director Daniel Fuller about the project; here's an edited transcript.

WHAT WAS THE IMPETUS FOR STARTING SOMETHING LIKE THE PENINSULA SCHOOL? WHAT IS ITS OBJECTIVE?

RD I started the Peninsula School to closely examine work of artists that are recent graduates of either undergraduate or MFA programs, with the intention of identifying the path of their success in relation to the artistic work and aspirations of the participants in the school.

DF Rob's idea also came from the desire to have creative interactions and dialogues with his peers. The school is a temporary experiment in the mutual exchange of learning. The art world that these students will be graduating into is big, complex, and often confusing; I believe that it is incredibly wise and ambitious of them to take agency and create this platform within their community.

I asked Rob to look into numerous important artist-led projects that revolve around varied pedagogical strategies such as Copenhagen Free University, the Mountain School of Arts, and Mildred's Lane; and then my role slid far to the back seat. The ICA is solely the facilitator — an institutional support system for the curriculum committee.

WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS YOU'VE DISCUSSED SO FAR? WHAT DREW YOU TO CONSIDER THEM, AND COULD YOU ADDRESS SOME OF THE DISCUSSION POINTS THAT CAME UP?

RD The Peninsula School is currently discussing works on display by Alex Da Corte and Ted Gaul. Gaul is a painter who is engaged in a formal exploration of paint and color interaction. His series of publisher's logos based on his father's book collection utilized linen that was left on his studio floor catching drips and brush cleaning gestures. The linen was then stretched and the logos were integrated into the compositions. Most inspiring to the students was Gaul's management of an art career in New York while living and working in small-town Connecticut. This presents a model for artists living in Portland.

Da Corte's work creates a window into pop culture trends and consumerist tendencies. He sources a great deal of his material from thrift shops and dollar stores. In our discussion we addressed plastic and its disposable nature as essential to his work. With "Triumph" (for example), he walks the fine line between societal critique and casting judgment upon consumerism.

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OPENING CONVERSATIONS Talking about art at the kickoff reception.

ARE THE WORKS AND ARTISTS SELECTED FOR STUDY RESTRICTED TO ANY MEDIA OR MATERIAL?

RD So far the school has discussed video, performance, painting, sculpture, and writing of press releases from contemporary art galleries. Our next phase of programming will include photography. The Peninsula School adopts a trans-disciplinary approach to its programming and views traditional discipline distinctions as obsolete. Alex Da Corte incorporates video and painting as well as sculpture into his artistic practice. The school discussed Graeme Patterson, an artist who works with installation, performance, animation, and sculpture. The ability to create work via the appropriate medium for the content is a paramount for the artists studied by the Peninsula School.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Institute of Contemporary Art, MECA
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