How does one define art? It is difficult to say. But deFINE ART, a five-day series of lectures, exhibitions, visiting artists, panels and discussions, invites viewers to answer that question.
deFINE ART 2012 is a global event that showcases the talents of established and emerging artists and art professionals at SCAD's locations in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The name encourages viewers to interact with the work they see and define what fine art means to them.
"My hope is that the students and general public find the program inspiring and are moved to engage in a dialogue about their experiences," said Laurie Ann Farrell, SCAD executive director of exhibitions.
This year's honoree and keynote speaker is acclaimed conceptual artist Fred Wilson. Wilson will give public talks in Atlanta at 7 p.m., Feb. 22 at SCAD Atlanta, fourth floor, Building C, 1600 Peachtree St.; and in Savannah at 7 p.m., Feb. 23, Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.
A Whitney Museum of American Art board of trustees member and a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant" awardee, Wilson is known for his “institutional interventions" in which he creates new exhibition contexts for the display of art and artifacts found in museum collections through his re-adaptation of wall labels, sound and lighting, as well as his non-traditional pairings of objects.
In his deFINE ART exhibition, titled "Life’s Link: An Installation by Fred Wilson inspired by the collections of Walter O. Evans," Wilson will present an artistic intervention into the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art at the SCAD Museum of Art. Wilson will use works from the collection and additional source material from historical institutions in the city of Savannah to encourage viewers to recognize that changes in context can create significant changes in meaning and "re-deFINE" the work.
"Fred Wilson is arguably one of the most important artists of our time," said Isolde Brielmaier, chief curator of exhibitions at SCAD. "He has re-defined the museum-going experience for so many and continues to pose critical questions about culture, art, art practices and modes of display. We are thrilled to present this original project by Wilson, which marks the first time the artist has worked with a private collection while becoming intimately familiar with both the collector and the museum space and their relationship to the city of Savannah."
This year's roster also features solo shows by artists Jane Alexander, Stephen Antonakos, Zander Blom, Kendall Buster, Mohamed Bourouissa, Dario Escobar, Sigalit Landau, Ann-Marie Manker, Richard Mosse, Lisa M. Robinson, Hank Willis Thomas, as well as a group exhibition featuring contemporary photographers including, among nine others, Isaac Julien and Carrie Mae Weems.
"We are excited to bring a broad spectrum of local, national and international artists who are considered leaders in their fields as well as experimental art forms that have not been previously shown in the region," Farrell said.
Wilson's, Alexander's, Buster's and Antonakos' work will be on display at the newly renovated SCAD Museum of Art, which opened to the public on Oct. 29, 2011.
With new galleries and classrooms, a 250-seat theater, a terrace and outdoor projection screen, a conservation studio, a museum café as well as a 12-foot-long orientation touch pad, the new museum demonstrates the vision and attention to detail that SCAD is known for.
The SCAD Museum of Art serves students and visitors alike as a teaching museum with twin goals of enriching the high caliber of education SCAD provides its students and reaching out to the Savannah community and beyond.
As such, it is the perfect venue for deFINE ART, which seeks to raise awareness about SCAD's academic programs, in particular the SCAD School of Fine Arts, that are actively shaping and giving rise to new artistic expression, dialogue and innovation.
"We hope for those who aspire for creative careers that the program will stimulate new ideas and practices," Farrell said.