As you may know, the Quadrennial Exhibition of Faculty Exhibition opened this last weekend. I noted in the catalog essay:
Exhibitions of art serve a multitude of functions. They are aggregates of competing forces, sometimes market driven, sometimes in service of a personal vision, sometimes driven by curators, collectors, or others whose agendas may or may not be readily identifiable. The agenda of this exhibition is clear and transparent. This exhibition is driven by generosity. It is a gift. Every four years, through the dedication and labor of the staff of the Chazen Museum and of the art department, and the largesse of both, a major exhibition of work by the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Art Department is mounted. It is a mammoth undertaking, done without curatorial intervention; it is democratic in the best sense of the word: self-regulated and locally sourced. It is given to the public, to the state and beyond without expectation, as a gesture of generosity and as an extension of the Wisconsin Idea, as a breathtaking example of the collected research of an entire faculty of one department, some past, mostly present, all connected by a commitment to extending their creative understanding of the universe through making and through teaching.
I urge you to visit this exhibition often; each time you will see new things, new points of tangency and new relationships between individual works. Works of art tend to come into sharper focus upon repeated viewings; then seep into our consciousness and their often multiple meanings, make themselves available to us, the viewer.
The work in the exhibition represents a cross-section of the multiple approaches to art in the 21st century. It is locally produced, but global in its reach. And, it is produced by the stellar professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; artists who also teach, mentor and create incredible opportunities for their students.
Professors of art are translators: they make the histories, theories, and practices of what we call “art” available. They gather the art world from afar and bring it closer to the student and in this exhibition, to the viewer as well.
Take your time with the 2016 Quadrennial Exhibition and let us know what you think.
Chair, Art Department