Outer Regions

Welcome to our first in a series reports from the “Outer Regions: Roundtables and Public Panel Discussion,” a two-day event held at East Tennessee State University with funding support from the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, March 1-3, 2013. The symposium was organized by Vanessa Mayoraz and Andrew Scott Ross to explore the ramifications, and potential benefits, of artistic practice outside of major metropolitan art centers. Here, Vanessa and Andrew discuss their impetus for organizing the event.

It was July in Brooklyn, 2008. We had re-organized the arrangement of the furniture of our joint 150 square foot studio for the fourth time in two weeks, yet the backs of our chairs still touched. Then, on a Monday afternoon as we were both preparing large-scale art installations in our tight studio quarters, the phone rang offering us a one-year professional opportunity in Florida.

Should we go?

grouper sandwiches
huge studio space (with real windows)
get art supplies in 10 min.
no commute / more time

pastel colors
disconnected from our art community
fewer art institutions
absence of good Chinese food

Lets do this!

We thought we made this decision based on our excitement for new life experiences, but in fact we made our first big decision based on our art practices’ needs. A couple of years later, after realizing these new found order of priorities, we began to question how this decision impacted our art making. Our work had benefited tremendously from the larger studio, but it was not connecting with the location and its culture. When it came time to leave Florida we had two options, either go back to New York or move somewhere else.

From that point, our very practical conversations about where to live turned into a thread of more theoretical conversations about practice and production and how the artist’s location can effects these parts of the artist’s life and career.

Our investment in this conversation began to grow and we wanted to expand our research by reaching out to other artists and art professionals. That is when we decided to make a 3-day long retreat titled “Outer Regions.” This event would analyze the benefits and ramifications of living inside or outside the major art hubs. We would meet and discuss during four roundtables, and at the end share our findings with a bigger public. We invited Emma Balazs (Columbia University), Sarrita Hunn (Temporary Art Review), Adelheid Mers (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Joey Orr (Emory University) . We unplugged them from their lives to have this discussion in East Tennessee where we were currently teaching. We picked them over others because of their diverse experiences, non-traditional approaches to production, and their ability to build on questions without closing them with answers. It went better than we could have imagined.
OUTER REGIONS: Roundtables and Public Panel Discussion

How have remote technologies affected artists’ professional opportunities? What are your experiences, thoughts, and opinions in regards to: Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, Skype, online portfolios, blogs, digital exhibitions, and other online locations? What are the time demands for these technologies to effectively result in creating opportunities or interesting dialogs?

How does the artist’s location affect their creative output? Has globalization and increased connectivity through technology changed this? Do you think we will see the birth of a global aesthetic? Will the term regionalism as applied to art disappear or might its meaning transform?

Have you witnessed innovative institutions that are benefiting artists that live outside the main art hubs? Have museums, art schools, residencies, or grant-giving organizations changed in their support of artists living at a distance from the main city centers? Do you have an example of a successful alternative institution created outside the main art hubs by artists/curators/collectives that take on an interesting cultural mission?

What are your experiences with artists experimenting with lifestyles in remote locations, living in multiple cities, art communes, or other forms of alternative living? Have artists living inside of major cities adapted their living situations in interesting ways to sustain their careers? What are the benefits and drawbacks of these approaches? Are these customized ways of living the way of the future or a thing of the past?

Participants: Adelheid Mers, Emma Balazs, Joey Orr, Sarrita Hunn.
Moderated by Mira Gerard.


Vanessa Mayoraz received a BFA from the Geneva University of Art and Design in Switzerland and an MFA in Art and Public Spaces and New Artistic Strategies at the Bauhaus University Weimar in Germany. She has been performing various workshops and lectures on subject such as « artist as archivist  » and « contemporary art practices ». Her work has been exhibited internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Belgrade, Villa Bernasconi in Geneva and Young Artist Biennal in Moscow. She is currently teaching at East Tennessee State University. www.vanessamayoraz.com

Andrew Scott Ross was born in New York City in 1980. He received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing in 2006. Ross has exhibited at the Guggenheim’s Peter Lewis Theater, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Musuem of Contemporary Art of Georgia, and the Knoxville Musuem of Art, and. Is currently an Assistant Professor at East Tennessee State University. www.andrewscottross.com

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  1. Jack Kuntz

    Hi! I am a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, currently doing research on my thesis in this vein…. I was wondering if there is any form of documentation for the result of this round table. I would be very interested in learning what came of these postulations! Thanks!!

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