So, I might as well kill two birds with one stone here and write about the two artist talks that I went to. The first one I saw was done by Lisa Lapinski. She is a sculptor, but also a conceptual artist meandering in and out of a bunch of different discourses relating to everything from Wittgenstein to Rilke. In large part because of this her talk seemed unnecessarily convoluted. Actually, it was the worst artist talk I have ever seen. Maybe it was because she was nervous, but it was hard to tell if any of her pseudo-intellectual babble was valuable at all. I am all for relating disparate realms to the visual arts; nevertheless, her work so often didn't seem to necessitate any of the readings she was making of her pieces. It is a shame too, because as far as I know from students who talked one-on-one with her, she was one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people they had ever met. I can't really write much else about her though because there really isn't that much to say.
The talk by Lowry Sims, however, was very valuable. I was lucky enough to have her as a professor this semester, and she has been so consistently well-versed and articulate in the range of art related topics she is discussing. Her presentation on the inter-relationships between art, politics, and the environment was so hyper-focused and yet multifaceted. If there were anything to critique it would be that she focused primarily on 20th century art in the Western hemisphere. Then again, that also made sense in the context of her presentation. It could be stated too as a counter to this, that she presented a lot of work too made by non-Western artists working within a Western art context. In any event, I always find her explanations important in that her ability to trace movements is extraordinarily tight and perceptive. Even though there are similar dialogues that may stretch across countries and generations, she is able to pull them all under one framework. If art historians have any value at all it is in the way they can perform taxonomic operations in order to guide perceptions in new ways. Sims is a master at this task.