Graduate Students in Art Visit Berlin

Artist Thomas Rentmeister, center, with group of students in studio
M.F.A. students and Associate Professor Michael Ashkin (center right) with artist Thomas Rentmeister (center) in his Berlin studio. photo / Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18)
students posing outdoors for group photo with artists Thomas Rentmeister and Bibo Bosse
M.F.A. students and Associate Professor Michael Ashkin (upper left) with artists Thomas Rentmeister (third from lower right) and Bibo Bosse (second from upper right) outside of their Berlin studio. photo / Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18)
Artist Taiyo Onorato with mfa students at studio table
From left: Artist Taiyo Onorato, Diana Clarke (M.F.A. '17), Sasha Phyars-Burgess (M.F.A. '18), Alex Jahani (M.F.A. '18), and Clayton Skidmore (M.F.A. '17) in the studio of Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. photo / Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18)
students looking at art on a computer screen with the artist
From left: Artist Isa Melsheimer, Madeleine Cichy (M.F.A. '17), Diana Clarke (M.F.A. '17), and Clayton Skidmore (M.F.A. '17) in Melsheimer's Berlin studio. photo / Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18)
MFA Student (right) views paintings in Benjamin Rubloff's studio
Kaleb Hunkele (M.F.A '18) (right) views Berlin-based painter Benjamin Rubloff's (M.F.A. '09) work in his studio. photo / Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18)
directional signage to studio Olafur Eliasson
M.F.A. students visit Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin. photo / Na Chainkua Reindorf (M.F.A. '17)
April 20, 2017

Students in the art department's M.F.A. program traveled to Berlin for seven days this April for the program's annual trip abroad. The city is well-known for the continued growth of its art scene as well as its diversity and affordability in comparison to other European capitals. These factors, among others, makes Berlin attractive to a large community of artists — several of whom the students were able to visit as a part of their extensive itinerary.

"The first day of studio visits was with Bibo Bosse and Thomas Rentmeister, and that was an amazing start," recalled first-year student Richard Zimmerman (M.F.A. '18), making note of the range of types of spaces and practices they encountered. "We also went to Olafur Eliasson's sculpture and installation studio which was of course much grander in scale than the intimate space, primarily a painting studio, of Berlin-based artist Benjamin Rubloff (M.F.A. '11). It was incredibly interesting to hear so many artists speak directly about their work and practice, and to see how artists set up their studios to best facilitate what they do."

Ahead of the trip, the students created a wish list of visits to studios, galleries, museums, and other places of interest. Michael Ashkin, department chair and associate professor of art, helped to develop the schedule before departure and traveled with the students. "Thanks to several wonderful gift sources, this year's trip was a fantastic experience for the students," reported Ashkin. "With its sheer density and range of cultural life, Berlin is perhaps an obvious stop in Europe for condensed exposure to contemporary artistic practice. The students this year were very motivated to arrange studio visits with artists living and practicing in the city. Beyond these, we also visited several exhibitions, galleries, events, historical sites, and hangouts that suggest Berlin as a viable location for artistic practice or exhibition in the future."

Their trip also included visits to exhibitions at Hamburger Banhoff, Schinkel Pavilion, the Käthe Kollwitz Museum, and many others on view at several smaller galleries and venues. In addition to Rentmeister, Bosse, Eliasson, and Rubloff, the group spoke to a number of other artists at their studios including Tom Duncan, Isa Melsheimer, Cyprien Gaillard, Andreas Gehrke, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Matt Lambert, and Dan Seiple who maintains a refugee boatbuilding studio in Berlin.  

"Visiting Matt Lambert's studio on one of our final days in Berlin was very insightful for me," says Gabriel Ramos (M.F.A. '18). "He spoke about his time in New York and his rationale for moving to Berlin so that he could create a more ideal balance between purely artistic instincts and the commercial projects he chooses to take on which is, in my view, really valuable information."

The annual M.F.A. trip's aim is to provide students in the two-year program an opportunity to interface with artists and venues that broaden awareness around possibilities for the future of their individual practices. This was the third international trip for the program and the second to Berlin. Last year, the group traveled to Mexico City.

By Edith Fikes