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Northwestern Well Represented at 2014 Whitney Biennial

Works by art theory and practice faculty member/department alumni

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April 18, 2014 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Several Northwestern University faculty members and alumni have strong ties to the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York, one of the most prestigious exhibitions in the world.

The Whitney Biennial is an exhibition of contemporary American art that is held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It is the museum’s signature exhibition and the country’s leading survey of the most recent developments in American art.

• Artist Steve Reinke, associate professor of art theory and practice in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, who is known for his video work, and alumna Jessie Mott are presenting a new video piece titled “Rib Gets In The Way” (2014). Reinke’s work also is featured in collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa. His videos have been screened at many festivals, including Sundance, Rotterdam, Oberhausen and the New York Video Festival. He also was the recipient of the Bell Canada Video Award in 2006.

• Alumnus Philip Vanderhyden, who received his MFA in 2004, is also among the featured artists invited to participate in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He has mounted a “remake” of a work by critically underrepresented video artist Gretchen Bender in the show. Originally exhibited by Bender in 1988, the discarded piece had fallen into disrepair. “People in Pain” is a crumpled field of vinyl backlit with neon illuminating a series of movie titles that gesture to the cultural and narrative meanings of the films.

• Alumna Michelle Grabner, an American painter and conceptual artist, is one of three curators of the New York exhibition, which runs through May 25. Grabner received her MFA from Northwestern in 2001. 

• In addition, department of art theory and practice faculty professors Judy Ledgerwood, Lane Relyea and Jeanne Dunning contributed to the Whitney Biennial 2014 catalog.

Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice has a history of being involved with the biennial exhibition. Alumnus Cameron Crawford was invited to participate in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, a little more than six months after receiving his MFA degree from Northwestern in 2011. Two of his sculptures were featured in the show.

The Whitney Biennial is widely considered to be one of the most significant in the field, helping to launch the careers of artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock and Jeff Koons.

This year’s Biennial will be the last to be held at the Whitney Museum’s building at 945 Madison Ave., at 75th Street. The museum will move to a more spacious building in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District next year. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the 200,000-square-foot contemporary structure is being constructed in New York at Washington and Gansevoort streets. It is scheduled to open to the public in 2015.