Introduction


Things have changed. In the past two years, the idea that we should be in it for the money has become more complicated. The white house is less white, but the past eight years have left us with a taste for torture-porn films, as well as hope. In this moment, the parings of fingernails and the scrape of bare flesh on a concrete floor honor intimacy, even as they betray isolation. Even in the protected space of the studio, things have been upside down. With great effort, worktables and couches balance on precarious two-by-fours eight feet above the ground. Blue shag carpet climbs the wall, matted with plaster and memories of sunlight. Sex is a perfect toe, separate but not severed, floating in a martini glass, and tattoos of family photos, blurry blue lines on pink and brown skin, are our salvation. Paintings cloaked in history hint at the tension between an artist and the models she brings home to the studio from costume parties. The unreality of coming to America plays out in mythologies on canvas, overlaid with hallucinogenic patterns, and the impossible, unknowable present is recast in miniature worlds, utopian and desolate.

The word "liminal" comes up a lot in discussions. On this threshold, there has been a closeness which has made this a time of warmth despite uncertainty. On behalf of the Department, I thank the MFA critique faculty - Carol Bove, Peter Campus, Lyle Ashton Harris, Sue de Beer, Rachel Greene, John Torreano, Kevin McCoy, and Trisha Donnelly, who, along with Jesse Bransford, David Rimanelli, Adam Putnam, Ross Bleckner, Beverly Semmes, Maureen Gallace, Marlene McCarty, and many others have made this institutional space a home for all of us. We are grateful to the Steinhardt School and the University for their support in this project. Most of all, we thank Nick, Jeremy, Sörine, Sam, Jen, Mila, Jin, Peter, and Tracey. A school is a collective endeavor, and we are fortunate to have been shaped by their vision.

-Nancy Barton, Chair, New York, NY 2009