SCAD's ninth annual deFINE ART program gets underway Feb. 20 with an alluring selection of exhibitions, lectures and public events by internationally established and emerging contemporary artists working in an assortment of media.
Like all of SCAD's programming, the main focus is on student enrichment, but most of deFINE's programming is open to the public at large.
"deFINE ART is for us a moment to really bring together very special projects, whether it's exhibitions or other programming," explains head curator of exhibitions Storm Janse van Rensburg. "It's an international moment for us as wellâ€¦ It's a chance to reflect on our student body, but also think in terms of Savannah and what we bring here."
The range of exhibitions included in this year's deFINE presents a chance to sample the diversity of the contemporary art scene from artists working around the world. As van Rensburg says, contemporary art is a way to open up perspectives and explore the the ways people in other parts of the world may be thinking or feeling, so a range of artistic viewpoints was vital to the vision of deFINE.
"It's a complex, diverse program," says van Rensburg.
This year's featured exhibitions include Mexico City-based artist Pia Camil, whose "Fade Into Black" is comprised of hundreds of T-shirts sewn together into massive, curtain-like panels as a comment on class, culture and economy; Nigerian-born Toyin Ojih Odutola's "Testing the Name," which explores "the merger of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families through the marriage of two men;" Italian multimedia artist Paola Pivi's whimsical "I Did It Again," which features life-sized, feather-covered polar bears in the exterior jewel boxes of SCAD Museum of Art; an epic black-and-white film installation from Chinese artist Yang Fudong; and photographer Melissa Spitz's "You Have Nothing to Worry About," which deals with her mother's mental illness and substance abuse in an unflinching way.
There are also a couple of outdoor installations, by Tom Burr and Mariana Castillo Deball, which make fine use of SCAD MOA's courtyard area and greenspace. This year's keynote lecture and deFINE ART 2018 honorees are the internationally renowned Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, most known for their remarkable multimedia sound installations. Two of their major works, "Opera for a Small Room" and "Experiment in F# Minor," are included in this year's programming and should be well worth the time for their inclusion alone.
Cardiff and Miller have been celebrated for their innovative sound designs and the immersive experiences they create. According to van Rensburg, the journey the viewer takes when they wind through the galleries at SCAD MOA will be extra rewarding because of the final encounter with these works in particular. He says all of the curators worked together to choreograph an experience that includes everything from humor, satire and irony, to storytelling and narratives, to design, architecture and history.
"I think it's important for us in some of our projects in the museum to also think about the history here," says van Rensburg. "It's a conversation that's important to have."
There are a number of other elements to this year's deFINE, like a group show at SCAD's Gutstein Gallery on Broughton Street, and a series of lectures and performances. Most will be heavily attended by the SCAD student body, but they are also open to the public. Check out scad.edu/defineart2018 for a full list of events and exhibitions and don't miss this chance to experience a delicious slice of the current contemporary art scene.
IF YOU GO
What: SCAD deFINE ART 2018
When: Feb. 20-23
Where: SCAD Museum of Art, 601 Turner Blvd., plus additional locations
Cost: Most events free and open to the public
Noon Feb. 20, Forsyth Park: Public performance by Pia Camil
6-8 p.m. Feb. 20, SCAD Museum of Art: deFINE ART opening reception
2 p.m. Feb. 21, SCAD Museum of Art: "Picture Run: Being Human"
6 p.m. Feb. 21, Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.: deFINE ART keynote lecture by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
7 p.m. Feb. 21, Gutstein Gallery, 201 E. Broughton St.: Reception for group exhibit "Alter Ego"
7:15 p.m. Feb. 21, Gutstein Gallery: Glitter Chariot performance, "Any Day Now (Love Will Let Me Down)"