As Melissa Starke saw it, Art Basel provided an opportunity to try a new approach for students to participate in a world renowned art show. Instead of a contest with a panel of judges, instead of it coming down to either: You’re in, versus “maybe next time,” students would participate in a mentoring program designed to prepare them for an exhibition of such a large magnitude.
For Melissa, coordinator of the Fine Arts department it meant an onrush of work and excitement. “We functioned as if we were an established gallery,” said Melissa who is also adviser for Urban Studio, an School-supported artists’ collective based out of the fine arts department.
Here are some of the steps that Melissa and 20 students, faculty members and alumni followed that led to the culmination of their participation in Art Basel Miami in fall 2012.
1. End of spring 2012: Melissa sets up the student mentoring program with the goal of applying to Art Basel. Faculty mentors critique and hold “a dialog” about the collective work. “That’s what met the initial eligibility criteria” said Melissa. Students were also given assistance with practical matters, like writing bios and artists’ statements.
2. Students work throughout the summer 2012 into the fall on individual pieces that would be exhibited at the Art Fair.
3. Students fundraise during the months of preparation, to help cover costs for the trip to Miami. There are tote bag sales, a flea market and a raffle.
4. In addition to the exhibit, a proposal had been approved for a large-scale sculpture to be build in one of the public spaces. “We built an entire public art piece from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.” said Melissa. The installation was a 20’ x 12’ metal rectangular form filled with cocoon-like shapes suspended above a swimming pool. Each artist filled a “cocoon” with objects of personal significance.
The night before the VIP Art fair opening, students meet with Melissa, FIT grads and faculty member Joel Werring to discuss how to best approach patrons and visitors, as well as go over gallery materials.
The day after they finished the public installation, Melissa and FIT alum Garrett Klein curated and installed the exhibition. The VIP opening was that same night.
“You can see that this experience could not have happened without the commitment and collaboration of a small village!” said Melissa. “Having exhibited during Art Basel was an invaluable experience for everyone. It’s possible that an artist might not have this opportunity in their lifetime.”
It was the fourth successful year for FIT involvement in Art Basel. To read about last year’s appearance go to: Urban studio creates a splash at Art Basel.
Participating artists from the FIT community included: Greta Anderson, Katrina Avino-Barracato, Valentina Burzanovic, Mario Cardoza, Dimitri Dimizas, Slavko Djuric, Eric Gottshall, Brittany Gray, Jisu Kim, Garrett Klein, Chadbourne Oliver, Lydia Pfeffer, Jessica Planter, Rin Shen, Julia Sinelnikova, Joanna Skora, Melissa Starke, Jennifer Torres, Marcin Wlodarczyk, Joel Werring
Photos used with permission