Without Walls

A jaunt through the boundless visual worlds of six young, successful Columbia artists.

by David Shapiro '01CC Published Summer 2013
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David Brooks / “Still Life with Stampede and Guano” (2011) / Concrete animal forms that lived with wild seabirds, guano, and varnish (Dimensions variable) / Portrait by Jörg Meyer

Continue the gallery tour here and learn about alumni events in the arts at http://artsinitiative.columbia.edu

Plunk yourself down in the middle of the work of the artists you’re about to encounter, and you begin to notice certain patterns: a rigorous intellectual component; a shrewd sense of irony and history; a free play of imagination; a confidence built from having exhibited at major local and international galleries, museums, and art fairs; and, most strikingly, an embrace of multiple traditions and media.

“Ask yourself: what is the best way to represent the body of ideas you’re interested in?” says Gregory Amenoff, a painter and the chair of the visual-arts program at the School of the Arts. “People come in as painters, sculptors, video artists, photographers, printmakers, and animators, but they’re put in one large pool, where their peers encourage them to consider what different forms their ideas can take.”

Portrait by Jörg MeyerIn this virtual gallery tour, curated by artist and critic David Shapiro ’01CC, we see the diversity of forms and ideas that exemplify the Columbia program’s “no walls” interdisciplinary philosophy. There’s Anya Kielar’s Pop-inflected, female-centered collages, assemblages, paintings, and fabric pieces; Marc Handelman’s illusionism and Western mythology, rendered in paintings and installations; Francesca DiMattio’s paintings and Frankensteinian fusions of historical ceramic idioms, inspired by Chinese porcelain and the French rococo; the digitally induced paintings and search-term mashups of Kevin Zucker’s technology-meets-culture ruminations; Laleh Khorramian’s fantastical, culturally influenced paintings, drawings, installations, and digital animations; and the ecological concerns and political critiques of the Amazon-sojourning sculptor David Brooks.

Here, the medium isn’t the message, but rather, it’s the channel through which the message is most effectively realized; here, form leaps to the service of ideas. This scheme would seem to reflect a comment by Amenoff on Columbia’s program:

“Just because you come in as a painter”, he says, “doesn’t mean you can’t branch out.”

David Shapiro ’01CC is an artist, writer, and fine-art appraiser. He is the founding editor of Museo, an online contemporaryart publication. His work has been featured in the MoMA PS1 show Expo 1: New York.

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