NYCAMS Director Curates Vienna Art Show

January 3, 2013 | 9:39 p.m.

By Mark Van Dusseldorp '14

"New.New York" exhibit at the Essl Museum in Vienna.

John Silvis ’92, associate professor of art and director of Bethel’s New York Center for Art & Media Studies (NYCAMS) curated an art show at the Essl Museum in Vienna. The exhibition “New.New York” started November 23 and runs through April 1, 2013.

It features 19 emerging New York artists working in sculpture, video, installation, and many other mediums. Three Bethel alumni have artwork in the show, including Rico Gatson ’89, Reid Strelow ’07, and Sarah Lee ’12. Alli Peller ’07 is assistant to the curator and NYCAMS Assistant Professor of Art Brent Dickinson is exhibiting a large-scale sculptural installation. 

Silvis met Essl Museum’s founders Agnes and Karlheinz Essl while living in Vienna as a child. The Essls met in New York City in 1958 while Agnes was working at an art gallery. After returning to Austria, they married, started collecting art, and in 1999 built the Essl Museum to house and show their collection of more than 7,000 pieces. After touring Brooklyn artists’ studios with Silvis in 2010, they invited him to curate a show to introduce young New York artists to a Viennese audience as part of the museum’s “Emerging Artists” series. “I had total freedom,” Silvis says, “and came up with a concept of showing work that pushes the boundaries of the artists’ respective mediums, and transforms common materials into art objects.” He uses the phrase “material as medium” to summarize the show’s emphasis on reinterpreting mediums.

A press release for “New.New York” mentions the importance of New York City in the global art scene: “The historic notion of New York as a beacon of human ingenuity and self-discovery continues its momentum as the ethos of postwar art movements continue to challenge the boundaries of contemporary art making.” Though there is not a specific theme for the show, Silvis considers many of the artists to be drawing from Brooklyn culture and American history. “What is unique to Brooklyn,” Silvis says in an Essl Museum interview, “is the idea of community, interconnectedness, and the sharing of resources.”