M.F.A. Students Find a Global Art Scene in Mexico City
Students in the Master of Fine Arts program in the Department of Art spent their Spring Break in Mexico City exploring the city's cultural history and contemporary art scene. In its second year, this annual trip adds a component of international travel to AAP's M.F.A. program that has proven its value in a relatively short period of time.
According to Carl Ostendarp, director of graduate studies, "The spring abroad trip has become an integral part of the M.F.A. experience at Cornell. Within the span of a week, the group is able to engage with a great number of internationally active artists and curators and experience exhibitions in gallery, museum, and alternative space contexts. This community event has proven to be highly impactful both in terms of the ways it inspires and informs individual studio practices as well as the degree to which it allows for insight into the global nature of today's art world."
Ahead of departure, the graduate students researched galleries and studios and contacted artists and curators to discuss their work and practice. Alva Mooses, a visiting lecturer in printmaking in the Department of Art, traveled with the students and assisted in their plans for a varied itinerary that took them to different sites and venues around Mexico City, both contemporary and historical. "During the trip everyone found something to respond to, whether it was meeting with artists and curators, collecting objects, drawing at the Anthropology Museum, or visiting Teotihuacán," Mooses noted.
The group visited important sites like the Zócalo in Centro Histórico, Museo Frida Kahlo and the ruins of Teotihuacán, prominent galleries like Kurimanzutto, and smaller, artist-run spaces like Bikini Wax in Mexico City's Distrito Federal.
"Bikini Wax stood out for the artists' level of energy and engagement with the city, one another, and other artists from around the world," says Diana Clarke (M.F.A. '17), "Considering their humble means — the space is run out of the artists' apartment — I was impressed with the quality of programming and was deeply inspired by the individuals who make up the practice, as well as the scope of the dialogue in which they are engaged."
Among the many reasons for identifying Mexico City as a destination for the 2016 trip were not only the globally recognized sites of interest that it would be possible to visit, but also the evolving cultural life.
Mooses commented, "Mexico City is vast and dense. There is a provisional quality that is pervasive and you have to mind your step as you are strolling down the street. While inside buildings, you can hear street vendors selling any number of things, becoming part of a cacophony of sounds. The city plays an active role in the art created within it, and there seems to be a strong dynamic for those that have worked to find their place in the arts there."
This trip follows last year's which went to Berlin, Germany where the students were able to schedule a private tour of the Boros Collection, visit studios, museums and galleries, and learn more about both the art scene and the city itself.
By Edith Fikes