Posts Tagged ‘Keren Moscovitch’

No Toxic Factor

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Among the usual crop of gallery openings this past month, there was an exciting pop-up show taking place at Central Booking in the Lower East Side. The pop-up exhibition, titled No Toxic Factor reunited 33 artists who spent the summer of 2011 in the School of Visual Arts Painting and Mixed Media Residency.  They have kept in touch since then, and the lasting impact of their experience has led to this exhibition almost five years later.

“NO TOXIC FACTOR,” at Central Booking in the Lower East Side

“No Toxic Factor” at Central Booking in the Lower East Side

No Toxic Factor was an extraordinary event featuring former residents, faculty, and visiting artists from 2011, curated by SVA Residencies own Assistant Director of Special Programs, Keren Moscovitch.

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The title and concept of the show rest on the conceit that organizing as a group has an altering effect on the individuals who participate in it, synchronizing them while making them unpredictable.  This is observable in social phenomena such as “mass hysteria.”

Video and installation by residency alum Rebecca Kinsey

Video and installation by residency alum Rebecca Kinsey

From the press release:

“ …this exhibition seeks to examine the mass hysteria that can arise amongst highly energized, closely situated individuals. History has thus shown us that large groups of people can generate unpredictable synchronized behaviors that often remain unexplainable by science. Despite suspicions that environmental poisons or other bacterial agents may be at the core of such phenomena, oftentimes these events, when investigated using modern research methods, are shown to have ‘no toxic factor’ involved. This exhibition points to the ambiguity of mass hysteria, suggesting that the line between laughter and psychosis, joy and mania, the rational and the senseless, are innately blurred. Recognizing the destructive forces that lie dormant within all groups, we instead choose to celebrate creativity, community and collaboration.”

The crowd at "NO TOXIC FACTOR"; Installation by Majella Dowdican, Residencies alum

The crowd at “No Toxic Factor”; Installation by Majella Dowdican, Residencies alum

No Toxic Factor found an interesting spin on the group show. Framed in such a way, one begins to wonder to what extent individuals are changed by being in a close-knit studio environment like SVA’s Summer Residencies. The claim of the exhibition is that the experience does change the individual, and if that can inspire a strange mania, it can also be generative, collaborative, and a powerful creative force.

“NO TOXIC FACTOR,” at Central Booking in the Lower East Side

“No Toxic Factor” at Central Booking in the Lower East Side

See more of the artists: Residencies alumni Rebecca KinseyWilliam PaganoLiz FloresKatalina Guerrero, Lorella PalenCristina Camacho; and the faculty members Tobi KahnOfri Cnaani, and Ira Richer. Read our review of Ofri Cnaani’s recent exhibition here.

Help Desk

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Today’s guest blogger is Eric Sutphin, Residency Coordinator of SVA’s Summer Residency Programs:

It is a fact that pursuing a career in the arts comes with a wealth of anxieties. Art schools may offer students top-of-the-line facilities, renowned faculty, a marketable pedigree and an invaluable network, but a complaint that I have often heard (and have launched myself) is the deficit in practical training for art students at the beginnings of their careers.  The attendant ambiguity that comes with a life in art can seem daunting and alienating; how often have we been to an opening and looked around at the dealers, curators and artists, and thought, “Wow, these people really have it figured out, they’ve all made it.”


SVA’s Keren Moscovitch (r) in “Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon” at Equity Gallery

Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon was a performance event conceived and launched by multidisciplinary artist Ofri Cnaani, a current faculty member of SVA’s Continuing Education and Summer Residency Programs. The performance took place at the Artists Equity brick-and-mortar space, Equity Gallery, located in New York’s Lower East Side. Cnaani invited eight guests (most were arts professionals) to respond to questions submitted via Artists Equity’s online platform. Over the course of the performance, which was structured like a professional practices “clinic” and free and open to the public, the spirit of  generosity and an enactment of a kind of utopian sharing economy unfolded. A few of my personal highlights from the event are below:

Q: How do I navigate being an artist, critic curator?
A: Gean Moreno, Artistic Director of Cannonball Miami: “Why is this still a problem within art? It’s seems like a kind of masochistic line that we have gotten comfortable with as artists. In other disciplines, people often move freely between roles. Don’t  worry about it, just do it.”

Q: “Are studio visits worth it?”
A: Joey Lico, curator and Director of Programming at The Cultivist: “Yes!” People who visit your studio generally want others to succeed, so invite people who are interested in your work to visit. But be prepared, and show everything you have, even the things you have hidden away, turned against the wall. We want to see everything. Be careful of those people who want to just sit around and hang out with artists; they’re out there.”

Ofri Cnaani (center) listens at "Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon" at Equity Gallery

Ofri Cnaani (center) listens at “Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon” at Equity Gallery

The question of the livability of cities came up frequently. Leila Bozorg, Chief of Staff for the NYC Dept. of Housing and Preservation and Development noted that “It is a city’s responsibility to make accommodations for cultural producers. It’s what keeps neighborhoods and cities, in general, attractive places to live.”

As each respondent answered the questions (which were written on index cards), he or she put the card on a clear table under which a projector beamed the image of the amassed question cards onto a nearby wall. The ephemera from the performance is included in Cnaani’s solo exhibition File Under:?, on view at Equity Gallery through January 30, 2016. Additionally, the answers to the artists’ questions will be “transcribed, processed and made available through Artists Equity’s website as a service for the art community.”

Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon at Equity Gallery

Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon at Equity Gallery

Faculty Updates

Monday, January 11th, 2016

We have exciting updates from Ofri Cnaani and Keren Moscovitch! Both Ofri and Keren will perform on January 16th in Help Desk: Equity Exchange Marathon. The performance is part of File Under: ?, Ofri’s solo exhibition at Equity Gallery.

Ofri Cnaani at Equity Gallery

For the exhibition, Cnaani invited artists to submit “pressing questions,” which each individual artist wants answered to help them in their lives as artists, ranging from professional to personal to theoretical.

These questions are displayed at Equity Gallery and shared on its online platforms. For the performance, Cnaani has asked experts from a variety of fields to attempt to answer these questions and the roster was determined by the frequency of the topics. Keren Moscovitch is one of these experts.

Ofri Cnaani at Equity Gallery

Ofri is also featured in Cut-Up: Contemporary Collage and Cut-Up Histories through a Feminist Lens, curated by Katie Vida, at Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT from January 16 – April 3, 2016.

See more updates on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages!

Student Artwork Update: Elizabeth Graham

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

We are pleased to present artwork by SVACE student Elizabeth Graham. Elizabeth created her photographs in conjunction with the course, “Articulating Your Vision: The Art of Portfolio Creation with Keren Moscovitch.  See Elizabeth’s work in our exhibition space at 209 East 23rd Street until January 4th!

Photograph by Elizabeth Graham

Photograph by Elizabeth Graham

Elizabeth writes:

“During my childhood, I both loved and loathed my home. Like most children, to me, home was a cocoon, familiar and safe. But at the same time, in many intangible ways, it felt uncomfortable – rigid, judgemental, unforgiving, and prisonlike.

As a child, I was unable to define why I was often ill at ease at home, with my parents, and with myself. This project is an experiment, to see if answers can be found through images. It is a re-visiting, a re-immersion in old hurts, an intimate examination which uncovered frustration, dread, and a longing for small comforts.

The project began as an attempt to portray myself as the victim of a bizarre, old-fashioned and very religious childhood home. But as the work progressed, I realized that the only honest images were those that focused on old wounds inside me, and how they shaped, and shaded, my world growing up.”

Photograph by Elizabeth Graham

Photograph by Elizabeth Graham

See more of Elizabeth’s work at her website and on Instagram!

Keren Moscovitch

Holiday Gift Guide

Monday, December 14th, 2015

For creatives, holiday shopping can be a breeze. No shopping! Artists and designers can make gifts, cards, prints, and more. Made well, these gifts can outlast many objects impulsively added to Amazon wish lists.

But for those who love creatives, holiday giving is tricky for several reasons.

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First, artists and designers work with a vast range of materials, devices, and programs.  Where does one begin? Sable brushes and ceramics glazes will always be great gifts for artists, but now we also might consider giving our artists fleets of acrylic paint additives, arsenals of markers, drafting pens or pen nibs, typeface licenses or Photoshop, Premiere or Unreal Engine, Arduino kits or Raspberry Pi, Wacom tablets or Apple Pencils.  And what about the books?

Second, and related to the first, we have to understand the creative pursuits of our artistic loved ones. A conceptually-driven artist might frown at a box of pastels. A rapid prototyping enthusiast might balk at a home silkscreen kit. Still, resourceful artists can work with anything, even disposable stuff.

With all of this in mind, we asked our faculty members about their own holiday gift experiences. “What gift(s) have you received that profoundly impacted your experience as an artist?” Read their responses below.

Elizabeth Sayles
Twitter: @LizSayles
When I was about 19, Milton Glaser came to speak at my college. I was a sophomore at what is now called the University of the Arts, but back then it was more specifically known as the Philadelphia College of Art.  No one in my class (including me) knew who Milton Glaser was, but apparently he was a “graphic designer.”  No one really knew what that was either.

He blew us all away. He spoke about his failures.  He showed us projects that looked pretty great to us, that the art directors hated and he had to do over. He did graphic work, but also really interesting illustrations. He didn’t fit into any neat category, and he opened my eyes to the possibilities.  He showed us that even professionals who had enough credentials to come speak at a college didn’t always get their artwork approved.  But mainly he showed us that you didn’t have to fit in a box.  You could do design AND illustration AND store design, etc…  He has become the Picasso of our time.

In the school bookstore was a large tome with a very understated, yet flamboyant portrait of Bob Dylan on the cover entitled Milton Glaser: Graphic Design. It is all I wanted that year.  And I got it!  Still have it.  Dog-eared and falling apart. Love it.


Adam Meyers:
“I don’t know about profound. But I used to work in a dark and dirty rock club. Yeah! All the employees were creatives, artists, actors, etc. Each holiday, we would have a party and the bosses would give us a gift based on our medium. I’m a renaissance man. But I would get a canvas each year. We would then have a spring show with our holiday gifts.

Being an artist can be quite lonely. But I guess the profound thing was being a part of a family of artists.”

Keren Moscovitch:
Twitter: @kerenmoscovitch
“I love getting vintage books that somehow relate to whatever ideas I’m knocking around in the studio. My collaborator Marianna Olinger recently gave me a first US edition of Albert Camus’ Resistance, Rebellion and Death since I’ve been looking at the ways that creative practices disrupt dominant modes of thinking, acting and loving. I’m inspired by not just the words on the cover, but also the physical object itself, with its rich personal and collective history and all the impact it has had on movements of social and political resistance.”

“On the ridge where the great artist moves forward, every step is an adventure, an extreme risk. In that risk, however, and only there, lies the freedom of art.” – Camus

Camus Book Keren

Mark Burk:
Twitter: @brandnv
“WRITING BOOK: A NET FOR IDEAS. There’s nothing more delicious than a new notebook, and no thinker (writer, artist, art director) should ever be without one.

My very first writing teacher – an enigmatic David Foster Wallace kind of guy – gave me a great piece of advice: “Get a notebook and keep it with you always. The best ideas always come when you’re not at your desk.”

So that’s the advice I’m passing on to all creative thinkers because you never know when an idea will fall out of your brain that you want to capture.

Using Notes on a phone is fine in a pinch, but what you miss is the opportunity to use that moment to create, because the act of getting an idea almost always begets more ideas — scenes, bits of dialogue, a sketch or written fragment that captures the poetry of a visual moment…

Here are a few of the books I’ve filled over the years that have captured thousands and thousands of ideas for fiction, film, wedding speeches, condolence notes, and lots and lots of ad ideas. I’ve written them in museums, on trains, in line at the grocery, at laundromats. Everywhere. Even at a funeral (I was discreet.)
I just got the book in the middle as a gift. In a few months it will be filled with all kinds of stuff  – most of it garbage – but all of it necessary.”

msb notebooks

Martin Abrahams:
“In the 1950’s, for Christmas, I received the Jon Gnagy famous ‘How to Draw Kit!’ Jon Gnagy was on television teaching drawing, so now I thought if I had this I can draw like him!

This ‘How to Draw Kit’ was filled with great drawing tools: erasers, pencils, chalk sticks, things to blend with, drawing tools I never knew existed! A book with lessons on how to draw, still life, landscapes, and portraits.

Of course, it was too much of a regimented technique! So I explored making my own expressionistic drawings, instead! Hey, I was only 7! I thought Gnagy was cool! He wore a plaid shirt! And looked like an artist! Happy Holidays!”

SVACE blog gift


Ruth Marten:
“When I was about 9, I received from the family of my father’s Navy buddy an 8-inch tall stack of white drawing paper and a pack of Venus water-soluble colored pencils in a case that had a snap closure. This was a great gift.”

John A. Parks:
Twitter: @skrappy3
A Christmas Gift

My very first set of oil paints was a Christmas gift, secured from my parents after a short campaign.  The inspiration came about through the visit of a clergyman the previous summer, a single man in early middle age who had been invited to my father’s church to preach.  Being asked to give a sermon was one of the few perks available to a Church of England clergyman back in the gloomy early sixties in Northern England.  Congregations apparently tired of a steady diet of their own vicars and craved the novelty of a stranger’s voice.  Some of the men even made small reputations for themselves as preachers and were much in demand. Not that there was any money involved.  What they had to look forward to was a stay in another man’s vicarage, where they would face the inquisitive children, eat the simple food offered, and get a night in a damp guest bed before receiving the polite attention of a congregation ranged in a chilly church the following morning.  After a roast beef Sunday lunch and an exchange of ecclesiastical gossip the visitor could get the train back to his own parish refreshed and invigorated, his ego propped and bolstered by the attention.

This particular clergyman, whose name I have long forgotten, deviated from the usual Christian small talk on his arrival by beginning to tell us about a new interest. This was over tea.  He had, he said, recently been on a painting tour given by a well-known artist.  They had stayed at several large country houses and had begun to use oil paint. Our clergyman spoke in a rich Oxbridge accent and his voice grew animated as he talked about the pleasures of painting outdoors and the wonder of spending so many hours simply looking at things.  He mentioned a few painters he admired and asked if we knew the French Impressionists.  My parents looked somewhat put out, being generally interested only in saving the world for Christ.  Their involvement with the arts began and ended with hymn tunes, and if my father ever mentioned art at all it was only to say that it was “merely the icing on the cake.”   But our visitor was not to be deterred from his new passion.    He ran off upstairs to the guest room and returned a few minutes later with a large portfolio.    From this he produced a canvas which he put before us with a flourish.

There were three of us children and of course we pushed forward to see what was so interesting.  The scene was blurry, a sort of stone gate house behind a swath of lawn framed by some rather rubbery looking trees and backed by an overly blue sky.  No doubt it was a terribly amateur shot at painting but I was transfixed, overtaken by the way in which the world had been transformed.  The building in the painting seemed unstable, almost dissolving, while the lawn heaved and the sky hung like an old shawl in the heavens.  It was a world that was recognizable and yet bizarrely different.  Suddenly painting a picture seemed like the most exciting and magical thing in the world.

So on Christmas morning I was presented with a wooden box containing a small set of tubes, a tiny glass bottle of turpentine and an even smaller one of linseed oil.  There was a wooden palette, a couple of brushes and several canvas boards.  I was beside myself to begin work but an enormous obstacle stood in my way: I would first have to attend church.

Christmas morning in my father’s church was a full dress affair, with the entire service of Morning Prayer from the 1662 prayer book and a sermon delivered by my father on the meaning of Christ’s birth, the promise of regeneration, and the importance of charity.

Nothing could match the overwhelming dreariness of this prospect.

I announced, therefore, that I didn’t feel well, that I was desperately, perhaps mortally sick.  I insisted that I couldn’t possibly go to church.  My mother was skeptical, but I was not to be moved and at last I achieved the almost impossible, I was excused a church service.   Suddenly the house was empty, my siblings gone, and the only sounds the dull sizzle of the turkey in the oven and the rustle and tinkle of Christmas decorations shifted by the frigid drafts of the old vicarage.

Within minutes I was squeezing great dollops of paint onto the palette, breathing in the heady smell of linseed and turpentine and deciding what to paint.  I thought I would begin with a picture of a candle.  I’m not sure why, although perhaps I had seen such a picture somewhere.  The paint seemed impossibly sticky and when I loaded my brush it splurged around unpredictably, climbed up the silver ferrule onto my fingers and generally fetched up on the wrong parts of the canvas.   Still, I managed to establish a white candle with a bright yellow flame and then a wall behind in a dark green.  It was immensely difficult pushing the paint around without getting the colors to all mix together.  The yellow seemed to find its way into everything.  Somehow I managed to get a dark red patch on my mother’s dining room table and a swatch of green on my shoe.  But by the time my family returned, my mother anxious to check on the turkey, I was able to present them with a recognizable picture of a burning candle sitting on a table top in an old-fashioned holder.

They were immediately critical.  “Well it’s all rather yellow,” frowned my mother.

My sister sniffed.  “It’s not very good,” she said.  “You’re not much of an artist. And anyway you should have been in church.”

My father said “My word,” and wandered off to his study, but then his eyesight was so poor, his eyes swimming behind his enormous spectacles, that I knew he could scarcely see the picture anyway.

And so I received a second and quite invaluable gift from my family that Christmas morning, the knowledge of what an artist will always face more often than not; rejection, disinterest and dismissal.  It didn’t bother me in the slightest; I was already hooked for life.