Following tradition, the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) again will host visiting faculty this academic year — six practicing artists who will bring skill, spirit, and a touch of marketplace reality to Harvard studios and classrooms.
“Art is not made with certainties, but … with doubts,” said Brooklyn artist Luisa Rabbia, a first-time teacher who was born in Italy. “Perhaps through the students’ questions, I may find myself learning as much as them.”
Rabbia is the only visiting artist who will teach in both fall and spring. “I am always worried about anything that takes time away from my practice,” she said. “But I also know that my practice needs new challenges, much as a plant needs water.”
The six, who include 2010 Harvard Arts Medal recipient Catherine Lord ’70, are represented in “Visiting Faculty 2013-14,” an exhibition at the Carpenter Center through Sept. 29.
Lord’s piece, done this year, is “Untitled (36 from the ONE),” a large-scale, ink-on-paper study of 36 book dedications from the collection of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archive in Los Angeles. The wall-size work is an expression of the fullness of her work as an artist and essayist. It lives at the intersection of photography and the written word, and celebrates feminism and the queer. (Lord, professor emerita of studio art at the University of California, Irvine, co-authored this year’s survey from Phaidon Press, “Art and Queer Culture.”)
New York City visual artist and sculptor Halsey Rodman, who will teach solely in the spring, has on display “Wanderer (Undone Changing Conditions),” a 2011 work that imparts a mellow glow from its three slender lamps, whose light is muted by shades painted in wild acrylics.
Teaching this fall are Lord, who once called the Widener Library of her undergraduate years “a utopia”; painter Roger White, who divides his time between Brooklyn and Middlebury, Vt.; Heather Rowe, another Brooklyn artist, who will teach a sculpture class called “Beyond Objects”; and Kalup Linzy, a Florida-born performance and studio artist, who in addition to creating art such as gouache and photo collages, explores the comic and artistic potential of soap operas.
His video sendups of the form, including “All My Churen,” have a lively YouTube following. They also contain his artistic signature: All the voices are his.
In an email, Linzy called interchanges with students “invigorating and energizing.” On the other side of the equation, “Practicing artists bring the experience of process to studio courses,” he said. “The experience of conceiving a work, creating it, and exhibiting it is a perspective that only artists have.”
Linzy also will be an artist-in-residence this fall at Arts@29 Garden, a collaborative space at Harvard. Said program manager Bess Paupeck of the arrangement, “His current work can’t stop.”
Each teacher will deliver an “artist talk,” another VES tradition. Linzy is expected to deliver the first on Sept. 26, including a live vocal performance. (Details are still being worked out.) Roger White will appear from noon to 1 p.m. on Oct. 15 in Carpenter Center Room B-04. Lord will appear on Nov. 12, at the same time and place.
White wrote in an email that he hoped to bring a hopeful message into his two painting classes this fall, saying that “art is ongoing, complex, and up for grabs — and that it’s a possible life.”
Yes, a life in art is possible, agreed Rowe. “You bring your personal experience of how it might be possible to live and work as an artist,” she said. “As difficult as it is these days, there are ways to make it work.”
The students give back too. “Time is short, no matter what,” said White, who co-founded the art journal Paper Monument. “But it’s energizing to see how other people approach making art, and to watch as things click into place for students.”
Rowe felt similarly that she will get a lot back from her Harvard teaching experience. “Spending a good deal of time working alone in your studio makes these interactions important,” she said. “For me, it can enhance a certain energy.”
Besides, Rowe added, “Students begin to become aware of their own art practice. They start to make decisions.”
An opening reception for the exhibit is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge, Mass.