Faculty lead MFA student trips to various locations nationally and internationally. For the past four years Laura Letinsky and Geof Oppenheimer have organized trips to China through partnerships with the University's Beijing Center. These trips have been especially useful in giving our graduate students a broader view of the international art world with visits to artist studios such as Ai Wiewei, among other important destinations in China.
" In so many ways, this trip to Beijing symbolized the reasons an individual seeks out the support of a university in the first place-- to accomplish/experience/complete/etc something bigger than what is capable on an individual level. Of course it’s possible to travel as an individual but the relationship we’ve developed with the Renmin University students, the wide range of people we met and the rigor of those conversations is, in so many words, quintessentially UChicago. There’s also something irrefutably impactful about experiencing something so vastly different from “home” during graduate school, a time when the goal is a kind of complete upset of the status quo.... Furthermore, China inspired me to never stop learning." - Carris Adams (MFA '15)
"Beijing produced many questions. It provided an environment, parallel to my own in Chicago, to compare and contrast the forms of art production within a sociopolitical situation that seemed distinctly different from (in its traditions and proclivities), yet surprisingly similar to (in its structural manifestation), the ‘western’ vernacular. These differences and similarities were insightful. The art communities in Beijing are vast and varied, creating an intricate system of roles and ideological positions to engage with and think about. My experience, while engrained and ethically aware, became a kind of sociological laboratory that provided activities of elucidation. Elucidation of political, economic, and social power dynamics; how all of these categories inform and produce the aesthetic and conceptual framework of the practicing artists, curators, administrators, and collectors." - David Lloyd (MFA '15)
" [I knew] A trip to China to see art and absorb culture would be a valuable experience for any student but DOVA’s trip surpassed these objectives and instead provided an intimate and critical look at what it is to be an artist participating in a global profession. We spoke with artists that were among the first contemporary artists in China after the Cultural Revolution who were able to illuminate how history, politics and art markets shape the landscape of cultural production. In contrast we spoke with gallerists and young artists in their studios, traded studio visits with Renmin University students, spent time with the director of the Ullens Center and with Ai Wei Wei. In addition to being changed by hiking the Great Wall and standing in awe of the Forbidden City, we were able to have access to a caliber of artists and contemporary thinkers that I would simply never get the chance to speak with otherwise.
I came to DOVA and Chicago from a small undergraduate program. I thought many times to myself, in an artist’s studio or slipping into a packed subway train headed from one side of Beijing to another, that I am one of the eight most fortunate MFA students in the U.S. Having invested much time into looking at the best programs in the nation, the investment that UChicago’s Department of Visual Arts has in each of its students is unparalleled.
While in Beijing I was able to continue research and dive into resources on Beijing at the UChicago Center at Renmin University. This facility was an amazing resource. Among other alumni and PHD students peppering the study rooms I was able to find anything I needed to guide my interests in exploring the city and researching the artists we were scheduled to meet. In my sculpture practice I value a grand sense of scale and an ability to relate to moments both as an individual and as a part of the global system. Chinese Buddhism, architecture and philosophy influence me heavily. Walking the pathways of some of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist temples, Chinese gardens will fuel my art making for years to come. " - Sara Rouse (MFA '15)