Sugar, house paint, tin foil, and typewriter parts are just a few examples of the many found and unusual materials self-taught artists used to create their artistic vision. This discussion will convene scholars to discuss the innovation of self-taught artists and how studying materials and process can lead to a deeper understanding of their work. Speakers include curators Aleesa P. Alexander and Choghakate Kazarian.
Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander is assistant curator of American art at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Her research and curatorial interests include the artistic production of the American South, the relationship between race and modernism, and the history of “outsider” and self-taught art. At the Cantor, she curated the reinstallation of the permanent collection, The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950 (2019), and serves as the institutional point person for the Asian American Art Initiative. From 2017 to 2018, she was a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she assisted with the exhibitions History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift and Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963–2017 (both 2018). Her research has been supported by the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, the American Craft Council, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Alexander received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2018.
Choghakate Kazarian is a curator and art historian whose interests are focused on artistic processes and the interaction between biography and artistic practice. She has been curator at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris from 2011 to 2018 and has curated several exhibitions on artists such as Henry Darger, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Karel Appel. She has edited several exhibition catalogues and published on artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Louis Michel Eilshemius, Stéphane Mandelbaum and those mentioned above. She has a MA in art history from Ecole du Louvre and a MA in philosophy at La Sorbonne. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. at the Courtauld Institute of Art with a dissertation on the American artist Albert Pinkham Ryder.
Image: Henry Darger (1892-1973); untitled (double-sided); mid-twentieth century; watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing, and collage on pieced paper; 24 x 106 1/2 in.; museum purchase with funds generously provided by John and Margaret Robson, © Kiyoko Lerner, 2004.1.3B. Photo by James Prinz.