Monday, May 17, 2010

Meet Our 2010 Alumni Achievement Award Winners: Conceptual Artist Mel Bochner & Poet Carolyn Forché

If you’re looking for 42 Ways to Say No or want to understand the poetry of witness, look no further than our 2010 Alumni Achievement Award recipients Mel Bochner and Carolyn Forché. But long before joining ranks as some of the most influential figures in the artistic and literary worlds, they were teenagers winning accolades from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for their art (Mel Bochner, 1958) and writing (Carolyn Forché, 1967).

Before establishing himself as a leading conceptual artist, painter and writer, Mel Bochner’s first job in New York City was as a museum guard at the Jewish Museum, where he met School of Visual Arts’ Humanities Dean Dore Ashton. Because the school was hiring artists to teach– rather than academics– Ashton encouraged him to apply for a teaching position. Mel Bochner’s 1966 exhibition Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed as Art at the School of Visual Arts has been described as the first exhibition of conceptual art. His paintings and installations have been displayed in group and solo shows around the world and explore themes of perception, number systems, color, language, philosophy and art’s capacity to describe feelings and experience.

Carolyn Forché is a poet, human rights advocate and university professor who published her first book of poetry when she was just 24. She has been described as a “poet of witness,” and is the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness, an anthology of works by poets who have faced imprisonment, exile and war. Her published works include The Angel of History, The Blue Hour and the forthcoming, The Horse on Our Balcony. She has received numerous awards and grants, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Carolyn currently serves as a professor and the Director of the Lannan Center for Poetry and Poetics at the University of Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

Mel Bochner and Carolyn Forché will be honored this coming June at Carnegie Hall, along with the 2010 recipients of The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
Photos: Conceptual artist Mel Bochner and poet Carolyn Forché.


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