This weekend, Washington University in St. Louis hosts the annual Inland Symposium: CST. Initiated by the Inland Visual Studies Center, the premise of the event is to centralize discussion about cultural production in the Midwest and examine the role place has on artists, curators and critics. This year’s Central Standard Time (CST) theme is a direct riff off of the sprawling Pacific Standard Time (PST) collaboration that brought together dozens of major institutions to celebrate the defining arc of the Los Angeles art scene. CST will likewise attempt to unearth the complex textures of what it is like to live and work in the Midwest. As site organizer Patricia Olynyk states, “the symposium is less about a comparison of the Midwest’s cultural production to the coasts than it is about defining what is here more clearly” and to “understand the complexity that impacts all of our lives here in the Midwest.”
Rather than simply addressing over-stressed questions of inclusion or exclusion from the constantly shifting art centers, or celebration vs. criticism of the Midwestern ethic and aesthetic, the symposium is structured to hear from some of the artists and curators most invested in discussing the character of our geography and culture, such as keynote speakers Stephanie Smith from the Smart Museum and Barabara Jaffee, who is working on a history of the New Art Examiner, to moderators such as CAMSTL Curator Dominic Molon, Robert Gero and Joan Hall, among others.
As Olynyk remarks, “these conversations are long overdue. Whether one feels that production in the Midwest is unique or whether one feels that there’s no point about talking about the local and global context because we all live in a global context anyway. The panels are meant to highlight that our individual experiences here are unique…that there is no monoculture and it can’t possibly be true that we are each having the same experience here.” The symposium will be an excellent jumping-off point for discussion and is a recommended supplement to the equally compelling Rustbelt to Artist Belt Conference taking place simultaneously at the Chase Park Plaza.
The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Welcome & Introductions
5p, Steinberg Hall Auditorium
Dean, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Patricia Olynyk, Symposium Co-Organizer
Director, Graduate School of Art, Sam Fox School
Paul Krainak, Symposium Co-Organizer
Chair, Department of Art, Bradley University
Dean, College & Graduate School of Art, Sam Fox School
Keynote Speaker: Barbara Jaffee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art History, Northern Illinois University
Opening Reception: In The Heart Of The Heart Of The Country
6:30p, 4191 Manchester Ave.
This exhibit—curated by Lauren Adams, Richard Krueger, and Monika Weiss—features works by MFA students in the Sam Fox School’s Graduate School of Art. The title taken from a short story by William H. Gass, the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Washington University.
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Panel: Place Discourse
9a, Kemp Auditorium, Givens Hall
MODERATORS: Paul Krainak and Robert Gero
PANELISTS: Jessica Baran, Jack Becker, Barbara Jaffee, Adrian Luchini, and Buzz Spector
This panel—consisting of artists, historians, and writers from Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri—is designed to explore critical interpretations of Midwestern art and design. Each panelist has had an important and sustained engagement with a range of critical, theoretical, curatorial, and artistic projects and will speak to his or her experiences in a manner that reflects upon the Midwest over time. The discussion will relate anecdotes about artists, galleries, museums, art journals, education, and audiences in the Midwest that have bearing on critical judgments that have fundamentally affected perceptions of art and its social impact. Panelists will dispute Midwestern cultural stereotypes like “flyover zone” and “red states/blue states,” and consider the anti-intellectualism of an art world monoculture and the shifting consequence of geography.
Panel: Show Me: The Delights and Drawbacks of Contemporary Exhibitions in the Midwest
11a, Kemp Auditorium, Givens Hall
MODERATOR: Dominic Molon
PANELISTS: Martin Brief, Deb Sokolow, and Dana Turkovic
This panel brings together artists and curators from Chicago and St. Louis to discuss the advantages and challenges of presenting contemporary art in the American Midwest. Exhibiting contemporary art outside of the “center” does, however, present real difficulties, including the need to appeal to audiences that are indifferent, unaware, and possibly even adversarial. Midwestern cities often become overidentified with a particular style or sensibility that, in turn, consigns some artists’ work to limiting critical receptions. During this informal discussion, panelists will not only address these issues but also invite suggestions as to how the perceptions and realities of exhibiting art in the Midwest might be productively rethought and reconsidered.
Museum Tour + Introduction to Curators
2p, Kemper Art Museum
Meredith Malone, Associate Curator
Karen Butler, Assistant Curator, John Stezaker
Robert Gero, Faculty Curator, Balázs Kicsiny: Killing Time
Panel: Time Travel: Production in the Midwest
2:45p, Kemp Auditorium, Givens Hall
MODERATOR: Irena Knezevic
PANELISTS: Joerg Becker, David Hartt, Jimenez Lai, and Patricia Olynyk
Artists have always had two possibilities for success: to thrive under immense competition and economic difficulty in the art metropolis, or to thrive despite invisibility and inconsequence on the art periphery. Either way, to quote Franz Kafka, “From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.” When that point is reached, the art periphery can become a transitional site for great talent, a catalyst, where exceptional art is made while nobody is watching. This panel addresses the paradox of the Midwestern contemporary art practice, a practice that must leave to stay.
Introduction + Keynote Speaker
4:45p, Steinberg Hall Auditorium
Keynote Speaker: Stephanie Smith
Deputy Director & Chief Curator, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago
Panel: Sculpting & Exhibiting Under the Influence
6p, Des Lee Gallery
MODERATORS: Ron Fondaw and Joan Hall
PANELISTS: Bill FitzGibbons, Rusty Freeman, Anna Hegarty, Noah Kirby, and Marilu Knode
This discussion will seek to focus on the often-overlooked work—sculpture, specifically—produced in the Midwest and the unique opportunities that are presented by the region. The panelists—all of whom have strong ties to the St. Louis region—will draw on their broad and diverse experiences as artists, architects, and curators to illuminate the area’s deeply rooted history of support for sculpture.
James McAnally is the executive editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. A graduate of Washington University, James McAnally is a founder, Co-Director, and Curator of The Luminary Center for the Arts, a nonprofit artist resourcing organization based in St. Louis. In his personal practice, he works as part of the artistic collaborative US English.