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Saint Mary’s hosts ‘Art Now’

| Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saint Mary’s kicked off the first installment of its Center For Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) Series for the Arts on Monday with a conversation entitled “Art Now.”

Krista Hoefle, associate professor of art at Saint Mary’s, spoke at “Art Now” about her presentation of her work at the international art show for modern and contemporary works, Art Basel Miami Beach.

“It was like a whole other world that I’m not privy to outside of my studio on campus,” Hoefle said. She said was able to see works of artists she has long admired up close. Among the thousands of artists who exhibited at Miami Beach were the works of Ai Weiwei, Rachel Harrison, and Li Hongbo.

The also trip introduced Hoefle to new artists that she had never heard of before, she said.
“The main reason I wanted to go was to be introduced to international artists,” Hoefle said. “Many of these artists had never exhibited in the United States before this show.”

One such artist Hoefle discovered on her trip was Aime MPane, an artist originally from the Congo who now lives in Brussels making portrait art from plywood. Hoefle presented pictures of MPane’s work; many different faces carved and painted on squares of the plywood.

“He’s carving through that material to reveal the different skin tones,” Hoefle observed. “There’s a nice analogy between his process and the colonial history of where he’s from.”

Hoefle was able to photograph the work of Li Hongbo up-close as well. Hoefle said recognized his work immediately. She said she included a video entitled “Li Hongbo – Out of Paper” in her presentation to explain the secret to his work.
Li Hongbo, an artist based out of Beijing, displays classic marble statues, flowers, and plain blocks of wood in his exhibitions and the secret is not immediately discernable.

“At first you don’t think that it could possibly change,” Li Hongbo said in the video. “But when you open it or provoke it, it inspires a change.”
In the video, Li Hongbo explained that he uses the ancient art of paper gourd craft, best known in its form as traditional Chinese red paper lanterns, which allows his seemingly fixed sculptures to move and contract when touched. The video “Out of Paper” is available on YouTube for viewing.
“Art Basel is a spectacle,” Hoefle said. “Celebrities will go, art stars will be there.” Hoefle said art fairs can also incite controversy. She said the exhibit of Rachel Harrison, an artist based in New York City, considered to be an artist of “Outsider” or “Folk Art” was so minimalist and bizarre that art critics lumped it under the label of “post-skill movement.”
“Sometimes we’ll leave and we’ll be like, ‘That’s why people hate art,’” Hoefle said, referring to art critics like Simon Doonan who write about why the art world is so loathsome. Despite its mixed reviews, Hoefle admitted a fondness for Harrison’s work.
One of the intriguing things about Rachel Harrison’s show for Ms. Hoefle was its conscious effort to “subvert the overt masculinity in the history of art culture,” she said.
Overt masculinity in art culture was a running theme in Krista Hoefle’s presentation. She and her husband also attended the Packer Schopf Gallery, a collection usually based out of Chicago.
Hoefle said there was a 50/50 split of male and female artists at the Packer Schopf gallery, but this is not always the case.
“There was an audit done in 2012 by the Guardian to find out how many women and how many men were being represented in gallery spaces,” Hoefle said. “The Guardian found that 67 percent of galleries at the 2012 London’s Frieze Art Fair represent less than 1/3 women.”
Hoefle said those numbers are significant.
“Exhibiting your work isn’t everything, [but] the art world is all about connections in terms of making your voice heard,” she said.
Hoefle ended her presentation with the work of Ai Weiwei, another artist based out of Beijing, famous for his controversial pieces of international acclaim.
Ai Weiwei has catalyzed a whole new generation of Chinese artists, including He Xiangyu who also exhibited works at Art Basel Miami, who deal with controversial subjects such as the suppressive forces of global capitalism, Hoefle said.
Ai Weiwei, in particular is “really outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government,” Hoefle said.
Visit ArtBasel.com and cwil.saintmarys.edu for more information.

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