For my STEP Signature Project, I decided to participate in the Film & Art in a Global Context study abroad program. In this course, I traveled to New York, Athens, Paris, Berlin, and Venice where I visited many art museums, galleries, and sites of art production. Additionally, I was able to present some of my artwork in progress at a small show in Berlin, and I will be presenting a finished piece at Ohio State when I return in the fall.
Although I have taken many art-related classes at Ohio State, my attention is always divided between art and my other academic and extracurricular obligations. Because I am majoring in both Economics and Film Studies, as well as minoring in Video Arts and History of Art, I often feel like I am switching fields of study from class to class. However, during the month I spent traveling for my STEP project, I was able to completely immerse myself in the world of art.
After experiencing a variety of art institutions, both historical and contemporary, I realized that the four fields I have chosen to study are intimately interconnected, including economics, which I have always viewed as separate to my other academic interests. However, the act of traveling across multiple countries to see art displayed in a variety of contexts has shown me that a piece of art cannot be separated the economic and political conditions it is presented in. Especially in contemporary art, many works directly address these larger concerns. I found that my knowledge of economics has made me better equipped to analyze artworks and understand the art market.
For me, the most transformational activities of this program were the prominent displays of both American and international contemporary art I was able to view. With all due respect to Columbus, and Cleveland, my hometown, I have relatively limited opportunities to interact with contemporary art, especially with film/video works, which is my medium of interest. For the first time in my life I was able to interact with a large number of video works in a gallery setting.
Although I learned a great deal from the permanent collections and curated exhibitions of established museums, I was most transformed by the surveys of contemporary art, particularly that made within the last few years, which I was able to encounter. These would be the Whitney Biennial in New York, the Documenta Festival in Athens, and the Venice Biennale. The Whitney Biennial exposed me to the work of a variety of solely American artists, while the two festivals in Europe expanded my perspective of the international art world.
The video work I saw at these festivals showed me that video is not limited to a two-dimensional screen, but can instead utilize multiple channels and can interact with a three-dimensional space. Furthermore, many of the works I saw directly engaged with economic concepts and political issues, and I found it exciting to encounter such challenging artwork. Moving forward, I am eager to create new, more complex artwork now that my horizons have been broadened.
This transformation is significant for me because it has always been difficult for me to envision my study of art being put to use outside of the classroom, but this program has shown me that the art world is massive, and it is not unreasonable to pursue a career in the arts. In the past, I thought that I would eventually have to choose between academics and my film/art path, but I now understand that my academic path has provided me with a unique skillset that will hopefully lead me to a career that suits me. With four semesters remaining before I graduate, I now need to evaluate my post-graduate options, and I plan on discussing with faculty to decide the best next step in my education.