Two years ago they stampeded into Dallas with lectures, essays and business cards in hand. Last year they descended upon Los Angeles, discussing medieval manuscripts at the Getty while networking. This year, the College Art Association’s (CAA) annual conference is coming to Chicago, and professionals and students in the visual-arts field will be roaming the streets, hitting the galleries and referring to Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” by its proper name (that’s “the bean,” in Chicago vernacular). For those not familiar with the CAA, the long-established organization (founded in 1911) fosters career development and advancement in the visual arts field through networking opportunities and promoting excellence in scholarship and the exchange of ideas. Its members include artists, students and visual-arts professionals, as well as museum professionals. The conference kicks off Wednesday night with the opening convocation given by photographer Dawoud Bey, followed by a gala reception at the Art Institute’s Modern Wing. Conference-goers get down to business the next morning, and they don’t stop until Sunday evening. Here are some of the conference’s highlights.
The daily sessions have something for all. Art-history lovers will have their choice of topics ranging from specific interests (Innovation, Agency History: Centering the Italian Fourteenth Century) to more broad concerns (The future of Art Criticism). Sessions geared toward artists include subjects such as grant-writing and marketing, and beginning professors can learn to structure syllabi and get onto the tenure track.
The Students and Emerging Professionals Lounge, open to all conference attendees, offers mock interview sessions and meet-and-greets. In these economic times, learning to perfect one’s elevator speech isn’t just important for graduating students.
The poster displays, on view Thursday and Friday, are informal presentations of individual research. Unlike their high-school counterparts, this research is concisely focused and effectively conveys the scholars’ ideas and direction.
The Book and Trade fair (free admission with registration or tickets available) includes book signings, demonstrations and the latest titles published in the field.
Artspace is described as “a conference within the conference.” Its media lounge screens video programming selected by prominent artists, professors and curators specializing in new media. Artscape is also the site of the Annual Artists’ Interviews, which this year features local artists Phyllis Bramson and Tony Tasset.
In addition to the daily programming, the CAA works with local organizations, including the School of the Art Institute, the Smart Museum and the Renaissance Society, to offer lectures, openings and film screenings around the city, many of which are free. Though the conference may be a bit costly to attend, registration is open for specific panel discussions the day of, and may well be worth your money. (Patrice Connelly)
The College Art Association’s 98th annual conference meets February 10-13 at various venues. Single-ticket registration is $45, and full passes are $270 for members, $400 for nonmembers, $155 for students, and many events are free. See the website for full session and event details.