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An Artist Who Keeps Being Discovered TC's Graeme Sullivan has Genuine Street Cred

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Graeme Sullivan

Department Chair Graeme Sullivan exhorts students and staff to combine theory with practice.

Ex-Ray (2004)

Ex-Ray (2004), Swimmer's flipper, electrical wire, timber. 25 x 15 inches. Site: Attached to bus stop shelter, opposite to Regatta Park, Georgetown.

Object Knowledge (2002)

Object Knowledge (2002). Encyclopaedia, dragonfly, plexiglass. 11 x 9 inches. Site: Placed on library shelf, South Hall of Rose Main Reading Room, New York Public Library. Installed Friday, August 9th, 2002

Conspiracy (1992)

Conspiracy (1992). Louver shutters, garden hose, oil stick. 40 x 20 inches. Site: Boston, attached to west wall of subway tunnel entrance on MTA Green Line as ‘T' approaches North Station

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach," runs the old adage-'"but not in TC's Department of Arts and Humanities, where Georgia O'Keeffe once honed her craft and where current Department Chair Graeme Sullivan exhorts students and staff to combine theory with practice.

In scholarly works such as Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts, Sullivan-'"Associate Professor of Art Education-'"has remarked on "the reemergence of artists-theorists as important sources of vision and voice within the cultural politics of these times."

But he also leads by example. Operating under a cloak of semi-anonymity, Sullivan is the creator of "Streetworks"-'"one-of-a-kind conceptual pieces that, as advertised, employ materials found in gutters and on sidewalks. That's also more or less where the finished product returns, as Sullivan is fond of leaving his creations to be discovered in strange, out-of-the-way places: mounted on a deserted building at the corner of 11th Avenue and West 19th Street; attached to a dilapidated structure protruding over the Hudson River; adhered to the wall of a subway stop; or sitting innocently on the shelf in the south hall of the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library. And that's just in New York City. Streetworks also have appeared in Boston, Venice, Tokyo, Beijing, the Bahamas and Sydney, Australia.

"It's hard to rationalize it, I suppose," Sullivan says of his penchant for casting his art to the winds, "but I find it quite invigorating. It's the same as what you do when you're teaching-'"because, as a teacher, you're typically giving out all this stuff. You don't know what happens to it. Though occasionally you do. Occasionally someone will come back, years later, and say, -'You know, you really kicked me on.'"

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