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Caldera Report

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The MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research and the MFA in Visual Studies each take students to Caldera for two intensive arts retreats.

This year, both the MFA in Visual Studies and the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research sent students to Caldera. Caldera Arts Center is a year-round art center located on the shores of Blue Lake in the Cascade Mountain Range, 13 miles west of Sisters, Oregon. Caldera welcomes students and artists from all over the world for mini-arts retreats. Caldera also offers month long residencies. From their website, “Caldera’s mission is to be a catalyst for transformation through innovative art and environmental programs.”


CT+CR Students at Caldera

This year, in the inaugural semester of PNCA’s new MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR) program, co-chairs Anne Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders took all 18 CT+CR students to Caldera for four intense days of presentations, discussion, and debate. Also invited were visiting artists Nina Katchadourian, who has previously lectured for PNCA’s Visual Studies program and recently curated Day Job, an exhibit in the Feldman Gallery; and Sina Najafi, Editor-in-Chief of Cabinet magazine and one of the judges of this year’s Hannah Arendt Prize. Also traveling with the students were CT+CR faculty members Marie Pierre Hasne and Joan Handwerg.


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CT+CR students at Caldera. Photos by Marshall Astor ’13.


While at Caldera, CT+CR students had the opportunity to discuss thesis concepts one-on-one with Katchadourian and Najafi. Because the CT+CR program runs across three continuous semesters, students are already deep into research and preparation for their theses. CT+CR students are tackling projects exploring critical theory as a mode of socio-political critique and creative research as a process-driven form of inquiry. These include explorations into critical theory, research design and methods, cultural and institutional critique, ethics, and modes of thinking that cross the boundaries between the visual and verbal, linear and nonlinear, digital and analog, theory and practice.

Students also had time to explore the nearby caldera and lava floes, and to hang out by the central fireplace in the evenings. “Over the four days,” said Hannah Horowitz ’12, “we really began to gel as a group.”











CT+CR students at Caldera. Photos by Marshall Astor ’13.


Visual Studies students at Caldera

For a number of years, PNCA’s MFA in Visual Studies Program has taken students to Caldera for 10 days of presentations, discussion, debate, and intensive arts making. The PNCA Caldera Laboratories are a collaborative effort between the Caldera Artist Residency program and PNCA. The two institutions have joined forces to construct a program where visiting artists, scholars, curators, and critics come together with PNCA faculty and Visual Studies students to engage in art making, in research, and in visual and written investigations in a laboratory setting.

This past fall, the 6 Visual Studies students who traveled to Caldera — Linden How ’12, Christy Bailey ’12, Ed Trover ’12, Justin Schwab ’12, Taka Yamamoto ’12, and Erin Dengerink ’12 — were joined by visiting artists Julie Ault and Gregg Bordowitz, as well as by faculty member Tracey Cockrell.













Photos by Tracey Cockrell, Edward Trover, and Justin Schwab.


Their days at Caldera followed a regular schedule. Each evening began with a ten minute student presentation followed by an hour-long discussion with faculty and students. The presentations consisted of a wide variety of individual concerns, themes or practices in art-making, professional practice, and contemporary contextualization. At dinner, which was prepared by the students, the discussion that preceded the meal often continued. Often, these discussions touched on different artists, films, and music. Informal events and discussions followed dinner, and ranged from film screenings and poetry readings to performances and various exercises.

The days themselves were for the most part given to individual work time. Bordowitz held two writing workshops, students met individually with Bordowitz, Ault, and Cockrell, and everyone made time to explore the caldera and landscape around the art center. Student work from the two weeks spanned a wide variety of media including video, photography, poetry, dance, performance, installation, and painting. Works dealt with concepts such as love, transformation, language, allegory, and collaboration.

You can listen to Visual Studies students present about their Caldera experience at the 2012 Caldera Report, below.

MFA VS Lecture: 2012 Caldera Report



Students and artists-in-residence deliver their annual report from the visit to Caldera in central Oregon. November 2, 2012.












Photos by Tracey Cockrell, Edward Trover, and Justin Schwab.


by Killeen Hanson, MFA ACD '12

— Posted on 11/27 at 02:44 PM

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