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School of Visual Arts presents "The Influentials: SVA women alumni invite artists who have shaped their work"
Yamini Nayar, One of These Days, 2009, digital C-print.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “The Influentials,” an exhibition featuring distinguished female alumni of the College and the diverse group of artists who have influenced their practice. “The Influentials” is both an investigation into the creative lineage between contemporary artists and a dialogue between mentors and mentees that crosses generations, gender and media. Co-curated by independent curator Amy Smith-Stewart and SVA Director of Development and Alumni Affairs Carrie Lincourt, “The Influentials” will be on view at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26 Street, 15th floor, New York City, from August 26 – September 21, 2011.

“The Influentials” brings together some of New York’s most recognized female artists, from celebrated painters like Katherine Bernhardt and Inka Essenhigh to sought-after video and installation artists like Ada Ruilova and Phoebe Washburn. The exhibition’s title refers not only to this group but also to a second group of individuals who have been a guiding force or touchstone in their work. Each of the 19 participating SVA alumni was asked to invite an artist or other person of influence to be part of the exhibition, and the invitees range from Washburn’s grandmother, whose “waste not, want not” outlook can be seen in her granddaughter’s frequent use of recycled materials, to cult French filmmaker Jean Rollin, whose 1975 erotic vampire tale Lips of Blood illustrates Ruilova’s obsession with horror movies.

Ranging from photography to drawing to installation, the more than four dozen works in the exhibition include: critically acclaimed videos by Marilyn Minter (Green Pink Caviar, 2009) and Kate Gilmore (Between a Hard Place, 2008), who credits Minter for teaching her to “be bold, honest and to never, ever relax”; a new large-scale sculpture by Marianne Vitale (Double Decker Outhouse, 2011), who says seeing Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr’s 7-hour epic Santantago confirmed her need to be an artist early in her career; and the latest project from Lisa Kirk (Backyard Adversaries (Ashes to Ashes), 2011), who sees a “sublime level of alchemy, the act of making work that is not only inspiring, but is revolutionary” in David Hammons’ Fly Jar (1996). A complete list of the artists is below.

“‘The Influentials’ offers a complex web of associations among SVA alumni and the artists who have, through action or example, furthered their work,” says co-curator Lincourt. “While group exhibitions are typically built around a technique or aesthetic concerns, this show looks at models of engagement and cooperation between contemporary female artists, and the deeper kinds of networking and community building that happen today in the studios, galleries and across the digital realm.” This global network of artistic influence complements co-curator Smith-Stewart's assessment of feminism's legacy as “connecting generations, genders, races, religions and power structures.”

On Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm, Lindsay Pollock, editor-in-chief at Art in America, will lead a panel discussion among several of the participating artists, including Suzanne McClelland, Marilyn Minter, Judy Pfaff and Mika Rottenberg. The event will take place at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23 Street, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public.

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