NYU MFA Art Critique
22 readers, 22 transcripts, 22 camera phone, 22 music stands
March 8, 2019 at 6pm
Printed Matter Inc.
New York, NY
December 15, 2018
From the self published artist book “NYU MFA Art Critique”
Black and white photocopy, tape bound
8.5” x 11”
Printed Matter Inc. Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Live Reading: “NYU MFA Art Critique” by Thomas Ray Willis
NYU art student makes watercolor paintings with his tears, creates a stenographic transcription from the art school crit, now re-enacts it as a staged reading.
Printed Matter, Inc. is pleased to present a one-night event for Thomas Ray Willis’ transcript “NYU MFA Art Critique.” on March 8, 2019 at 6pm. The program will include a live reading performance featuring twenty-two participants, recreating the subject of the book: Willis’ graduate school art critique. A reception will follow.
From the catalog description:
Samuel Hittin is a professional courtroom stenographer. On a typical day, he records auto-insurance claims and corporate meetings. But on the morning of May 2, 2018 he reports on something new: himself as the subject matter.
“What is going on here?” someone demands. Speaking over the typing of his shorthand machine, a group of 20 faculty and students from NYU’s Department of Art ask him, “are you part of the show,” and “this is a recording?” Sam writes their every word.
MFA student Thomas Ray Willis hired him to take notes for his graduate school art critique. Neither are certain what the group is more frustrated with: the outsider stenographer or the artist defending 20 watercolors paintings made from his tears. What starts for Sam as a trial of an artist defending his emotional expression––ranging from a family death to childhood nostalgia––devolves into a heated debate about the group’s own feelings of testifying under oath.
“NYU MFA Art Critique” is 57-page transcript that engages with contemporary topics such as affect, surveillance, data collection, visibility, and art etiquette. However, it fails to unpack those of the artist’s sincerity, trauma, and the problematic perspective of him as a white male in this cultural moment. Did Sam’s role distract or reveal the purpose of the piece? What would you have said if you were in the room?
Copies of the book––which were recently entered into the Museum of Modern Art Archives, Whitney Museum Library, and New York Public Library––will be available for purchase the night of the event at https://www.printedmatter.org/programs/events/792 and available online at www.printedmatter.org/catalog/51872.
Documentation from these performances will then be exhibited back at NYU’s 80wse Gallery for Willis’ MFA Thesis Exhibition. It is a group show featuring his graduating classmates from the original critique. The thesis exhibition runs from April 3-20, 2019. The opening reception is Wednesday April 3rd from 5-8pm. More information on the show at https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/80wse/projectspace//mfa_thesis_shows_2019.
Thomas Ray Willis is an artist working across all forms of media. Before pursuing an MFA at NYU, Willis received his BFA in painting and drawing from UNLV in 2009. His hometown of Las Vegas––a dichotomy of community and spectacle, consumer and producer, reenactment and reality––informs his outlook and work.
Founded in 1976, Printed Matter, Inc. is the world’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books and related publications.