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if to reinforce the point, Kelly has moved quickly to shore up perceived
weaknesses in the UCLA program. For starters, she rounded out the
studio curriculum – which had maintained the relatively traditional
divisions according to media: painting, sculpture, photography,
ceramics and the somewhat vague “new genre” – by introducing an
option dubbed “interdisciplinary studio” for students whose work
crosses conventional boundaries.
importantly, she added a heady dose of criticism and theory to a
program that had built its reputation on an endearingly anachronistic
concern for the physical object. Toward that end, she inaugurated
an annual spring quarter symposium that brings together artists,
critics and theorists, as well as scholars from other disciplines
within the university to engage in “a major critical and theoretical
debate around culture.”
1997 symposium, “On the Ugly,” included presentations by such prominent
art historians and theorists as Rosalind Krauss and Hal Foster.
This spring the symposium will comprise a variety of attempts to
answer the question, “What Do Pictures Want?” Once again, participants
will include noted artists and filmmakers as well as influential
scholars, from both on-campus and off, in such fields as literature
and cultural studies.
third major innovation was the creation of the Wight Biennial, an
exhibition of graduate student work from schools throughout the
country. The show is curated by UCLA students, who visit other schools,
spending days looking at their peers’ work and selecting one or
two pieces that interest them. They then write brief essays – generally
no more than a few paragraphs – discussing their selections. Playing
the role of curator, Kelly believes, forces students to think about
works of art from a different perspective.