Once or twice a semester, the VCS program schedules a field trip to one of the many art events, exhibitions, or institutions that surround the New York City area. Student excursions have gone as far afield as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where a group went during the spring 2008 semester to see an exhibition of works by the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. These trips provide more than just a chance to get off campus for a day and see important works of art; they also present an opportunity for students across different years in the program to get to know one another a little better, and to speak with faculty members outside of the classroom.
Since many of the current students in VCS have shown a serious interest in bookmaking and printmaking, the department organized its most recent field trip around a visit to the opening day of the NY Art Book Fair at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens. The fair is an annual event sponsored and run by Printed Matter, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting artists’ publications. This year’s fair contained booths for more than 200 presses, booksellers, and artists from around the globe, as well as an exhibition of printed works by artist Richard Prince and a two-day conference on artists’ publications. The visit gave students a chance to seek inspiration for their own works from the many approaches to book design, printing, and formatting that were on display.
After visiting the fair, the students took a look at some of the artworks in P.S.1’s exhibition spaces. A particular favorite was Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich, an installation that fills the art center’s Duplex gallery with an apparently water-filled pool, cleverly designed so that people in lower level of the installation seem to be walking around underwater when viewed from the perspective of those standing on the wooden deck above.
After checking out the fair and exhibitions, the students and faculty went to a nearby Italian restaurant. Annual department-sponsored dinners are another tradition at VCS, and the P.S.1 trip presented a perfect opportunity for everyone to sit together, chat, and unwind after the day’s events.