UC Santa Cruz to have faculty art exchange with Japan

Assistant professor of art Jimin Lee is coordinating an international collaboration between art faculty at UC Santa Cruz and universities in Tokyo and Kyoto. (Photo by Jim Mackenzie)

FUSE, a group show featuring new work by 12 members of the UC Santa Cruz art faculty, will travel to Japan later this year for exhibit at two university art galleries in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Running from April 11 to May 12 at UCSC's Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, the exhibition explores the influence of digital media and technology on the artists' practice. Selected works from the UCSC exhibit will be displayed at Tokyo Zokei University from May 17 to June 5, as well as at Kyoto University of Art and Design, June 11-30.

In exchange, the Sesnon Gallery will host an exhibition of faculty work from both of the Japanese universities in October 2008.

UCSC arts faculty are interested in how the Japanese implement technology with traditional methods. Faculty at Kyoto University of Art and Design employ a philosophy of "Kyoto Renaissance" in which they explore alternative methods through traditional techniques. Tokyo Zokei University practices the method and theory of "Zokei" or art and design education-matching developments in technology to the changing social structures in contemporary life.

The Japanese faculty artists are most interested in how UCSC creates, researches and teaches contemporary fine arts. This cross-cultural exhibition of works by arts faculty from different cultural backgrounds with diverse methodologies is designed to create a new vision based on the combined artistic expressions of all three universities.

The project was initiated at UCSC two years ago when Sesnon Gallery director Shelby Graham proposed an art exchange with other UC campuses at an Art Department faculty meeting. Assistant art professor Jimin Lee--who was then slated to have a solo show in Tokyo as well as deliver a lecture in Kyoto--suggested investigating the possibility of an international exchange during her trip abroad. While in Japan, Lee carried around a binder of samples of UCSC faculty work that Graham had put together for her, and she shared the portfolio with Japanese university officials who attended her events in both cities.

Upon her return to Santa Cruz, Lee collaborated with her Art Department colleagues, Assistant Professor Jennifer Parker and Associate Professor E.G. Crichton, to submit a grant application to UCSC's Arts Research Institute to cover the shipping cost of the artwork plus travel expenses. They were awarded a $15,000 grant last year which will enable Lee and Crichton to attend the university exhibitions in both Tokyo and Kyoto. The two UCSC professors will participate in several lecture and panel events at the two schools during their visit.

Lee noted that the project has been a true collaborative effort--with both Japanese art faculty and also within the UCSC Art Department. She particularly cited the efforts of Parker, who came up with the name for the exhibition and handled the digital exchange of catalog images and all overseas shipping and transportation arrangements.

"It's a more complicated process than most people would imagine to set up this international exchange," Lee noted. "But the FUSE exhibit creates an opportunity to talk about how digital technology affects university art faculty-both our creative process and our teaching."

"It's all very exciting; the Japanese universities will be designing two giant folding posters containing the artwork of all 30 faculty artists involved," she added.

UCSC art faculty featured in the FUSE exhibition include Elliot Anderson, E.G. Crichton, Frank Galuszka, Melissa Gwyn, Dee Hibbert-Jones, Jimin Lee, Norman Locks, Jennie McDade, Ed Osborn, Jennifer Parker, Elizabeth Stephens, and Lewis Watts. The exhibit features digital works on paper; paintings with acrylic, mica, and ink-jet prints; DVDs projected on walls/monitors; and installation work.

The opening reception for the exhibit will take place on Wednesday, April 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Sesnon Gallery, located at Porter College. There will also be a panel discussion with the artists on Tuesday, May 1, at 6:15 p.m. in the UCSC Media Theater. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Sesnon Gallery at: sesnon@ucsc.edu, (831) 459-3606.