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Art Criticism in the South
Southeastern College Art Conference
Durham Convention Center, 201 Foster Street, Durham, NC
October 18, 2012

This session will explore the current state of art criticism in the southern United States, covering both practical and philosophical matters. Presenters may address a wide range of topics, including the following: What are the differences and challenges in working regionally, nationally, and internationally? What are the distinct and overlapping roles of newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs? How does a new writer find and develop an audience? Can a critic be negative in a smaller scene, or must he or she support the work made and exhibited in it? What are the economic concerns for working critics, and how can they be improved? What possible conflicts of interest arise in the world of art criticism? The chair seeks presentations from critics, of course, as well as artists, curators, gallerists, students, and editors. Instead of offering formal papers, this session will consist of a dialogue between the chair, Christopher Howard, and the three panelists, Tori Bush, Susannah Darrow, and Jennifer Gonzales. Audience members are welcome to speak up at any time.

Tori Bush, Creative Alliance of New Orleans
“Fixed Canons of Criticism: Writing on Contemporary Art in the South”

Tori Bush will discuss her experiences as a contributing writer for Pelican Bomb, Daily Serving, and Artvoices, and also as an editor for Catalogue, a guide to local art exhibitions in New Orleans. Her contributions to an anthology of Louisiana artists, a project of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, will also be discussed. Additionally, Bush’s presentation will address how her writing intersections with her roles as a multimedia artist, an arts administrator, and an art historian trained in North Carolina and Louisiana.

A native of North Carolina, Bush received her BA in art history and Spanish literature from the University of North Carolina in Asheville and an MA in arts administration from the University of New Orleans. She is currently the program director at the Creative Alliance of New Orleans in Louisiana.

Susannah Darrow, Georgia State University
“Writer’s Block: Navigating the New Formats of Arts Writing in the South”

A member of the board of directors of Art Papers and of the Forward Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award Committee, Susannah Darrow will consider the rewards and difficulties of the multiple positions a working art critic may serve. She will also discuss her role as executive director and cofounder, with Jeremy Abernathy, of Burnaway, an online magazine and 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on covering contemporary visual arts in Atlanta, Georgia.

Darrow received a BA in art history from the University of Georgia in Athens and is currently completing an MA in the same subject from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Her thesis examines the role of hybridity in the work of the contemporary photographer, Lalla Essaydi.

Jennifer Gonzales, Memphis College of Art
Number: 25 Years and Counting”

Since 1987 Number: Inc has been publishing a print journal focusing solely on the visual arts in the Southeast. Originally it was intended as a vehicle to support the working artists of Memphis and to encourage local writers to write about the artists and issues affecting them. Through changes over the years, Number: has continued to publish and expanded its mission stimulate critical discourse by educating, advocating and informing the visual arts communities of the region. In learning the history, taking the helm, and moving the publication into the age of blogs and online publishing many obstacles, conflicts, and questions of ethics have had to be answered. Jennifer Gonzales will speak about issues of managing the politics of publishing a regional visual-arts journal from the perspective of a board member that served as an interim editor. These issues include reintroducing a controversial writer/critic, adequately representing regional arts, and finding a balance between academia and public interest.

As an artist and educator, Gonzales advocates using the arts to build communities and engage the public. Her collaborative artwork as a member of go.hein deals with addressing societal issues. She currently works at Memphis College of Art, assisting and teaching part-time in the graduate art-education programs while also serving as the coordinator of student achievement.