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New Insight: Top MFA Students on view at NEXT by openstudiospress


Antonia Gurkovska, Untitled (Europa), 2010 | Oil, acrylic, wax, latex paint, fabric, and enamel, 92 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago.

As part of the Special Projects on view at Art Chicago | NEXT this weekend (opening today!), New Insight is an exhibition featuring 18 of the top MFA candidates from some of the strongest graduate studio programs in the country. Curated by Susanne Ghez, director of The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, an institution with a vast history of exhibiting cutting edge work, this year’s New Insight show, now in its fifth year, is right in line with NEXT‘s mission of being a platform for new ideas and young, newly emerging artists.

With MFA students freshly on our brains at New American Paintings, with the recent release of #93, our new MFA Annual book on newsstands, the presence of national, high-profile MFA talent is tantamount to the idea behind the fair itself. And with works not available for sale by the students, the show drives home the point that the attitude at NEXT seems to put content over commerce.  —Evan J. Garza, Editor-at-Large

Katie Bell, Samples, 2010 | Mixed media, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago.

Saying of the exhibition process, Ghez explains, “The schools initially jury the work themselves, and they send in four candidates, ideally, from each school. So they do the initial cut, and I do the final cut. Other years, I would try to take two artists from each of the 12 schools. This year, I took the work I felt was the strongest… I did it completely blind, so I didn’t know where any of the students were from until I’d chosen the work.”

The resulting exhibition places the work of these students on view for major art world players and emerging gallerists to see this week, in the context of an art fair that seeks to separate itself from others across the country by being a platform for new ideas and practices, as much as it is a site for dealers to push emerging work.

If you make it to the fairs this weekend, let us know which artists you’re the most fond of!

Katie Bell, The Dining Table, 2010 | Wood, acrylic, vinyl, and trash, 96 x 26.5 x 12 inches. Courtesy the artist and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago.


Susanne Ghez is the director of The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago. She will be participating in a CONVERGE Contemporary Curators Forum panel, “In Our Own Backyard,” Saturday April 30 from 3-4pm at the NEXT Talk Shop, with Hamza Walker, Tricia Van Eck, Natasha Egan, and Lisa Dorin, the juror of last year’s Midwest competition of New American Paintings, edition #89.

And be sure to check out “Beyond the Stretcher: Breaking Down Spatial Limitations in Contemporary Painting,” a CONVERGE Contemporary Curators Forum panel, today Friday April 29, at 6pm, featuring Dominic Molon, Dina Deitsch, William Cordova, and moderated by NAP Editor-at-Large, Evan J. Garza.

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