Texts

a body of work requires re-interpretation according to each place it is sited.

MISSION:

The Inland Visual Studies Center contends that a consensus of modern and contemporary art cannot be understood without a complex of site re-orientations. Where one produces, witnesses, and exchanges art directly effects its meaning. A work or a body of work requires re-interpretation according to each place it is sited. Distinctions occur by site and by history, by the nature of venue and the length of a works visible existence in a particular environment. The history of place and the cross reference of time is as informative as any other qualification in the intent of an artist or designer and the apprehension of visual meaning.

HISTORY:

there really is no art outside New York, because proportionally there isn’t enough art commerce outside New York.

The United States most recognized and most contested art identity is constructed around a modernist abstraction of form that was useful in distancing itself from its European forbears. Instead of nationhood as a base it selected a negation of history and place. Reifying European utopian models, a progression of formal and conceptual displacement in contemporary art oddly coalesced in very specific sections of the Eastern and Western Seaboard. While stressing the absolute dismissal of place and the absolute embrace of the present an unprecedented fetishization of place occurred.

New York City was anointed the national and then international home of the avant-garde. For decades New York City was considered the most representative place to see American Art. Few complained that this would lead to an inward looking monoculture that would host publications such as Art in America, which despite its name and like all other glossy art journals, only covered art in New York and reviewed more European trends than events in the contiguous United States. The message was clear…. there really is no art outside New York, because proportionally there isn’t enough art commerce outside New York.

PLACE:

cultural zones maintain a critical proximity to the tone of social discourse in their surroundings.

Cultural zones: There are numerous cultural zones in the U.S. that complicate the production and reception of artworks. The IVSC is concerned with the Midwest and its multiple histories, communities and geography. Like climatological zones, cultural zones produce indigenous practices that are alternatives to monoculture. They also contribute these practices to invigorate a national identity of the arts. Maintaining regional culture ensures a more dimensional and multi-layered appreciation of the larger artculture. Just as importantly cultural zones maintain a critical proximity to the tone of social discourse in their surroundings.

EDUCATION:

It would be difficult to imagine artists from central Spain, Argentina, Austria, India or Zimbabwe who were not profoundly aware of the significant cultural influences of their regional art tradition on their larger cultural identity.

When an art student finishes their degree, they leave academia with a general impression that the most significant contemporary art production in America is coastal, i.e. New York and Los Angeles. Students may have a concept of the ascendancy of current art forms and the breadth of critical ideas but these are contextualized far too often by national and global sites of the art markets. This creates a perception that large metropolitan centers are the only significant production centers, – that culture only resides in Blue States, and that the center of the U.S. is homogenous and anti-intellectual. Artists from Inland America often assume that they must produce work that looks and breathes like that in the biggest markets in order to survive, rather than emphasizing the complexities of actual experiences of culture of the interior.

It would be difficult to imagine artists from central Spain, Argentina, Austria, India or Zimbabwe who were not profoundly aware of the significant cultural influences of their regional art tradition on their larger cultural identity, as well as being cognizant of how their visual traditions have engaged international art discourses. As Americans we do not have centuries of visual art production to draw upon. What we have, the legacy of modernism, has been construed to avoid regional dialogue and conventions, supposedly transcending the vernacular and the traditional. We have also accepted the belief that the idea of the modern is determined by the megalopolis.

While it may be convenient for artists from Inland areas of the U.S. to think their artwork is on equal conceptual footing with coastal markets, because of easier travel and digital communications, this places economics and technology ahead of aesthetics. The production of contemporary art in the Midwest, which has contributed to the reality of national art tends to only be recognized in a few disciplines and in rarified museum collections. Regional art production, in fact, has been a reaction to the modern and contemporary experience of the Midwest.

The Inland Center intends to fill in the gaps in the identity of contemporary art in the U.S. by stressing which national trends were derived from this region and by examining current visual production that delineates differences from national and global art.