A cutting edge art installation inspired by her commitment to education, social justice and equality is honoring the spirit of Maxine Greene in the nooks and crannies of the campus the late theorist and author helped define during a half century of service to the students and mission of Teachers College.
The 21-piece exhibit, “Unleashing,” will occupy the corridors, stairwells, common areas and open spaces of Teachers College through May 31.
“I thought by making the whole college the canvas instead of just using our gallery,” said Richard Jochum, the project director and Associate Professor of Art and Art Education. “We can make a more inclusive statement: This is about us, as Teachers College.”
The “site-specific, multi-media” works represent the efforts of 28 international artists, including Rafel Lozano-Hemmer, Bernd Oppl, Marion Wilson and Cathy Lebowitz.
For students, staff, faculty and alumni returning for the April 7 Academic Festival, the transformation of the campus into canvas offers an opportunity to happen upon art in unexpected places.
“Knitted Film,” for example, unspools in the Grace Dodge Hall stairwell. Evoking pre-digital cinema, the textile film strip was created by Gregory Climer, an Assistant Professor of Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design.
The Russell Courtyard has at the same time been transformed by strands of rope woven through a ventilation grate in an installation described by New York-based artist Brandy Bajalia as a “traditional Palestinian embroidery motif.”
Students, faculty, staff and alumni venturing to the fourth floor of the out-of-use Thompson Hall running track will encounter “And the World Will Be as One,” conceived with biodegradable, hydroponic textiles by artist and fashion designer Jacob Olmedo.
In the Zankel basement a continuous two-minute loop video – “White as Snow” by Pakistani artists Rabbya Naseer and Hurmat Ul Ain – captures young female artists recounting biographical details in their native language, Urdu.
The “embodied actions, monologues, memories and messages” recorded by students and staff for the TC iteration of “Tichener’s Cage” will also be featured. Teachers College is the latest stop for a virtual reality project by artist Nadav Assor that has drawn attention and favorable reviews at installations in New York and New Mexico.
An audio-video presentation has been readied to guide viewers to each of the 21 installations.
Downloadable on smartphones, the guide features the voices of Teachers College security personnel, facility and the food workers punctuating the narrative with rich anecdotes drawn from their own experiences on campus.
“Lonely Planet” by Ebro KurbakThe choice of narrators, Jochum noted, pays tribute to men and women who are “absolutely critical and instrumental to the college but who are not usually in the limelight.”
The two month project will also include artist talks, workshops and panel discussions.
Jochum said “Unleashing” continues a format established by “Doing and Undergoing,” a 2013 exhibit that also cast the campus as a medium for artistic endeavors.
Frail and in ill health, Maxine Greene did not have the opportunity to visit the installation in person.
But Jochum shortly before her death had an opportunity to share a video of the exhibition with the scholar credited with introducing “social imagination” educational theory. The response was enthusiastically positive.
Jochum says it was therefore only natural that the “Doing and Undergoing” sequel honor the memory and draw on the lessons of an academic heralded as the TC “philosopher queen” by President Susan Fuhrman.
“Taking our cue from Maxine Greene, ‘Unleashing’ features artists that imagine new prospects and redefines that which is humanly possible,” said Jochum.
“Unleashing” is co-curated by Livia Alexander, Chairperson and Assistant Professor at Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University and Austrian-Turkish curator and writer Isin Onol.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Teachers College Office of the Provost.
To learn more, visit the Unleashing website.