Art & Development

2013 Year-end Roundup


phtos from residency at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, Montalvo Art Center, Happiness Is... Chinese Arts Centre, more

2013 year-in-review. Highlights include the residency at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine; Happiness Is…, at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California; Irrational Exuberance Flags at Southern Exposure; Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, UK; Obsolete Californias in San Francisco; Jenkins Johnson Gallery in NYC; publications such as Temporary Art Review and The Dark Would.

Looking back at 2013, I’m grateful for the generosity and passion of many people…

• the dedicated staff at arts organizations providing residencies and exhibition opportunities to artists like myself…

• whipsmart collaborators Leah Rosenberg and Susan O’Malley… and

• inspiring, fearless women artists like Torreya Cummings, Sarrita Hunn and Lauren Adams who shape the art worlds they would like to participate in.

In 2014, I’m looking forward to…

Bronx AIM informal studio visits. Visiting photographer Martyna Szczesna's studio.

Bronx AIM informal studio visits. Visiting photographer Martyna Szczesna‘s studio.

• participating in the Bronx Museum of Art’s AIM program, and helping to organize mutual studio visits in the interim…

• contributing to artist’s publications: the next Ortega y Gasset Gazette, and Land and Sea, slated to debut at the LA Book Fair…

• launching a new version of my website…

• continuing to read and participate in book clubs about class, community, and engagement.


what artists make happen

I love this quote from Jeremy Deller:

art isn’t about what you make but what you make happen.

In response, JL asked,

but do you have to void one to validate the other?

No. Still, I conceive of what you make happen to encompass so much more than what you make. To try to work out what I mean, I started sketching a diagram. This is what I’ve come up with (so far):

Christine Wong Yap, diagrammatic study about what artists make and what artists make happen: how objects, events/situations and possibilities intersect to create exhibitions, practice, communities, dialogues and engagement.

Christine Wong Yap, diagrammatic study about what artists make and what artists make happen: how objects, events/situations and possibilities intersect to create exhibitions, practice, communities, dialogues and engagement.

I’ll attempt an explanation:

Artists make objects. The very activity of manipulating materials with an openness to their possibilities is the development of our own practices. We use imagination, courage, and will to take creative risks and sustain activities and engagement that can lead to enjoyment and flow (see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow).

Many artists make exhibitions, which are events/situations for engagement between the artist and viewer via the object.

So, largely, I think what artists make are objects, exhibitions, and practices that are opportunities for personal aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional engagement. (See Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson’s The Art of Seeing for more on the four dimensions of aesthetic experience.) The engagement is personal—for artists, via our activity with objects and their display, and for viewers, via those objects displayed.

What artists make happen, though, seems to expand beyond what artists make.

Artists also make events/situations (which are not object-based exhibitions) happen. These are spaces—physical or psychological—for attention or interaction. Participatory projects, public interventions, and of course, happenings, are some examples.

Some artists also make possibilities, and some artists make possibilities happen.

Artists make creative possibilities happen in terms of their personal development (object + possibilities = practice). We also make creative possibilities happen in terms of the development of the field, when our object-possibilities are accepted into the cannon, and they shift what constitutes contemporary art, therefore advances knowledge (see Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity). In this case, what artists make happen is a result of what artists make.

But artists can also make the field’s expansion and evolvement happen. We do this by creating events/situations with openness to possibilities—from new opportunities for artists, spaces, viewers, and interactions, to cultivating new art worlds and displacing old ones.

When other artists or viewers attend these events/situations with reciprocal openness, new communities and dialogues can emerge. For example, Obsolete Californias, by Shipping and Receiving (the moniker of collaborative duo Torreya Cummings and Heather Smith) was part-exhibition, part-event space/social space/store/wrestling mat. Amanda Curreri‘s Jean Genet in the Aunque  is a conversation in the form of a participatory reading; parts are available for all attendees.* These events/situations were more like platforms for artists and viewers to enact possibilities alongside each other. In this way, artist and viewer roles can be shed for the roles of citizens of temporary communities, or dialogists.

So what artists make happen are opportunities for shared aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and communicative engagement and action. The engagement is shared, as there is mutual investment of attention and space for cooperative action.

This week, articles in the Village Voice and the NY Times bemoaned the vast influx of money in art. Art auctions, art fairs, and mega-galleries that show works collected by the 1% are part of the art world, but equating them with the art world (as the Voice writer did) or only reviewing those exhibitions and fairs (as some NYT writers tend) are mistakes.

As Csikszentmihalyi points out, our most valuable currency is not money, but psychic energy—in other words, our attentions.

There are multiple art worlds. In mine, art auctions, secondary markets, and multi-million dollar transactions are on the periphery. I focus my attention on the center, which is abundant with artists, especially those who make things happen.

*Included in The Aunque, on now through February 16 at Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco, CA.


Get excited: SHIPPING & RECEIVING Storefront Preview

Via TC: coming soon, an exhibition (I’m excited to participate in) called SHIPPING & RECEIVING:

on a quasi-historical time-warp art installation about lost and future Californias, happening at Storefront Lab (337 Shotwell Street in SF) the month of January, 2013.

We have a few of the items that will be for sale in the actual storefront available on an intangible storefront, in case you are interested in any of them for oh, say, Christmas, or live far away but still want nifty things:

Proceeds go directly to defraying production costs for the installation, so think of this as a gentle alternative to a IndieGoUSAprojectStarter campaign. No hype, no pressure, no well-lit video, just a neat thing in the mail or available for local pickup.


get excited: in the bay

So much to get excited about in the Bay, meaning the San Francisco Bay Area, and more specifically, the actual bay.

We Players: How We Leave and Return: Intersections of Art and History
April 28–July 1, 2012
Angel Island State Park

Opening Reception @ the Visitor’s Center: April 28th, 2012 1:30 – 3pm

Exhibiting Artists:
James Bradley
Torreya Cummings
Lauren Dietrich Chavez
Julia Goodman
Matthew Gordon
Justin Hurty
Brandon Walls Olsen
Imin Yeh

How We Leave and Return is a site-specific exhibition of visual art on Angel Island State Park.

Seven Bay Area artists were invited to explore Angel Island’s history, architecture, and landscape, and create contemporary artworks inspired by the island’s historic narratives and recurring themes.

How We Leave and Return asks the audience to consider the cyclical nature of human history, marking that it often repeats itself, and presents ideas as to how a society copes with its legacy of ideologies, ontological positions, and cultural practices.

Lots of CCA alum (woot!) in this show, curious to see hear how TC’s boat voyage goes…. I don’t like getting caught up in issues of race and representation, but I’m glad that a Chinese American artist, especially one who deals with issues of identity in her work, is in the show. Angel Island is so important in California history as it intersections with Chinese Americans.

FOR-SITE Foundation: International Orange
Fort Point National Historic Site
(beneath the Golden Gate Bridge)
May 25–October 28, 2012

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, International Orange — named in honor of the unique paint color of the span — offers fresh perspectives on an enduring landmark. This exhibition at Fort Point presents new work by contemporary artists responding to the bridge as icon, historic structure, and conceptual inspiration.

The contributing artists — Anandamayi Arnold, Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood, Bill Fontana, Andy Freeberg, Doug Hall, Courtney Lain, David Liittschwager, Abelardo Morell, Cornelia Parker, Kate Pocrass, Jeannene Przyblyski, Allison Smith, Stephanie Syjuco, Camille Utterback, and Pae White — approach the bridge with diverse and distinctively individual aesthetics, materials, and points of view.

Really excited that this show, featuring so many stellar Bay Area and national artists (my personal faves linked above), will be on for a few months, increasing the chances of me catching it.