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Josiah McElheny Named Sachs Visiting Professor at PennDesign
October 25, 2017
Internationally acclaimed artist Josiah McElheny has been appointed Keith L. and Katherine S. Sachs Visiting Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design for the 2017 - 2018 Academic Year.
Through sculpture, writing, performance, and film, Josiah McElheny investigates the history of twentieth-century modernism in hopes of expanding on the dominant historical narratives of art, aesthetics, design, and architecture, and the criticality of our relationship to them. Recognized for his conceptually rigorous approach, and a physical mastery of materials, such as glass, McElheny explores vastly-ranging topics from astronomical cosmology and the infinite, to under-recognized artists or oeuvres, including the visionary abstraction of Hilma af Klint, Blinky Palermo’s wall paintings, and Robert Smithson’s crystalline sculptures.
At PennDesign, McElheny will be engaged with students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts through studio visits and reviews throughout the year, and teach a course entitled Imaginary Modernisms. The course will deal with the possibilities available to any artist today to participate in the constant rewriting and redefining of art history, culminating in a spring lecture at Rice University and related publication from the University of Chicago Press. McElheny will also give a public lecture at the ICA in the spring, on a date to be announced.
The Sachs Visiting Professorship was previously held by Egyptian artist and alumnus Wael Shawky (MFA’01). Based on extensive periods of research and enquiry, Shawky’s work tackles notions of national, religious and artistic identity through film, performance, and storytelling. His latest project, The Song of Roland: The Arabic Version, premiered at Theater Der Welt, Hamburg, in May and will travel to Amsterdam and Zurich.
Josiah McElheny is a New York-based sculptor, performance artist, writer and filmmaker best known for his use of glass with other materials. He has exhibited widely including two major survey exhibitions, Towards a Light Club at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2013), and Some Pictures of the Infinite at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts (2012), as well as exhibitions at The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2009), Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2008), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007), Madison Square Park, New York (2017), and MoMA, New York (2007). He has written for such publications as Artforum, Cabinet, and Bomb Magazine. His book projects include: The Light Club published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010; Interiors, a reader co-edited by Johanna Burton and Lynne Cooke, published by CCS Bard and Sternberg Press in 2012; and Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion: A Paul Scheerbart Reader, co-edited with Christine Burgin and published by Christine Burgin and the University of Chicago, 2014. In 2006 he was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was the 2013 Teiger Mentor in the Arts at Cornell University, a senior critic in sculpture at the Yale School of Art and continues as a mentor at Columbia University School of the Arts.
PennDesign prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.
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