Recently, VCS instructor Peter Hristoff was involved in “Who Needs a Master Anymore?,” a traveling exhibition featuring works by 40 art students and their professors (including Hristoff and three other teachers from the United States and Poland). The exhibition grappled with the questions of where the traditional master/pupil hierarchy stands in today’s art schools, and how the transmission of knowledge from teacher to student affects the next generation’s creative expression.
Here is some additional information about Hristoff and his participation in the exhibition, taken from an online article published while the show was up at Kean University in Union, New Jersey:
Contrasting the works of contemporary art instructors with those of their pupils allows the exhibit to raise provocative questions regarding the relationship of art and pedagogy. Does the traditional hierarchy of “master vs pupil” break down in contemporary arts instruction? Does teaching in actual practice become an interchange of experiences or are the masters values merely replicated in the aesthetic of his pupils? Does one need a master at all in the 21st century?
Peter Hristoff’s answer to the exhibit’s central question is a resolute “no.” Hristoff an artist/instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY is prominently featured in the exhibit. He asserts that “an artist must strive to be original, unique, different.” The exhibit probes tensions within the teacher pupil relationship and examines the very nature of creativity. Is there room in art for new traditions? While technique can be taught should ideology ever be?
Hristoff uses religious iconography to depict the initiation of the novice, showing how society fetishizes the transmission of knowledge. This is a paradigm wherein the master takes on almost mystical significance. Hristoff draws on various religious traditions, from native American shamanism to Christianity. A few works allude to the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve, referencing the serpent and tree of knowledge to develop themes of exile and temptation.
You can read the rest of the article here; it provides additional information about “Who Needs a Master Anymore?,” and a link to photos from the opening reception. Even more information is available at the Kean Galleries page, and this link leads to a post on SVA’s Visual Arts Briefs that discusses “Opposite Pols,” a related exhibition that ran last summer at Artes Gallery in New York City.
Finally, you read more about Hristoff and some of his other projects at this VCS blog post from last November.