VPA’s New Turner Semester Focuses on Artistic Professional Practice
Artistic professional practice and engagement with contemporary artists and curators in the culturally rich setting of Los Angeles is the focus of the Turner Semester, the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) newest immersion experience.
Funded through a gift from VPA alumna and Advisory Council member Marylyn Turner Klaus ’56 G’57, the Turner Semester is a pilot residency program for a small cohort of master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree students in VPA. The program allows the students to experience the arts of the West Coast and to live and work in San Pedro (the Los Angeles Harbor area) during the spring semester.
“I have been deeply indebted to SU for having granted me a four-year scholarship long ago to further my art education,” notes Klaus, who lives in San Pedro. “Providing these young people with an opportunity to live here for a semester, and to have the enrichment provided by the arts of our area, is a way of expressing my gratitude.”
“The Turner Semester sets our M.F.A. programs apart and gives our graduate students an incredible advantage,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “The opportunity to work alongside professional artists within an energetic, diverse arts community is invaluable preparation for their own careers, and we’re grateful to Marylyn for making it happen.”
The students have studio space at partner institution Angels Gate Cultural Center, a premier arts center in San Pedro with exhibition and education programs as well as studios for approximately 50 artists. The students will participate in the popular, annual open studios at Angels Gate and have the opportunity to engage with artists, curators and administrators who are living and working sustainably as full-time professional practitioners both at Angels Gate and in the greater Los Angeles arts community.
In addition to their studio practice, the students are interning at Angels Gate and the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, where they are working closely with staff on curatorial and educational programming. The students also plan to mount an exhibition of their work at the end of the semester under the guidance of Turner Semester faculty. The students Skype each week with Sam Van Aken, associate professor of sculpture in VPA’s Department of Art, who will meet with them in person mid-semester.
Los Angeles-based artists/educators Alexandra Grant and Edgar Arceneaux are meeting with the students throughout the semester.
“The Turner Semester in Los Angeles is a unique opportunity for graduate students to learn from a variety of artists and curators and to contextualize their artistic practice in one of the world’s premier art cities,” says Caitlin Foley, project manager.
“I am thrilled about spending the semester here because LA is so ripe with opportunity,” says Jeremy Horseman, a second-year graduate painting student. “Even though we have only been here for a few weeks, we have already had studio visits, attended openings and were able to hang out with several artists who we look up to. I feel confident that creating an exhibition here will be a tremendous asset for all of our emerging art careers.”
The Turner Semester is an outgrowth of VPA’s Ginsburg-Klaus Art in Los Angeles Practicum Week (Art in LA), which allows a small group of student artists to visit Los Angeles during Spring Break to undertake an intensive investigation of art collections housed in the city’s most significant museums, as well as visit galleries and contemporary artist studios to hear from prominent artists, curators and gallery owners, many of whom are accomplished Syracuse University alumni.
VPA’s presence in Los Angeles also includes the Sorkin in LA Learning Practicum, a weeklong immersion experience for drama and film students founded by Aaron Sorkin ’83 H’12; SU Drama Summer, a six-week immersion program for drama students; a two-week animation immersion experience for illustration, film and computer art and animation students; and Syracuse University’s LA Semester, which engages students in professional internships, specialized course work and regular interactions with industry leaders.