Q&A: Randi Hopkins, Juror, 2010 MFA Annual Competition

New American Paintings is pleased to announce that Randi Hopkins, Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), will serve as the juror for the 2010 MFA Annual Competition, Edition #93. (Open to current MFA candidates. The deadline for entry is October 31, 2010. Apply online.)

Earlier this week we featured a Q&A with Evelyn Rydz, featured in editions #68 and #86 of New American Paintings and included as a finalist for the 2010 James & Audrey Foster Prize at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). The exhibition was organized by Randi Hopkins, the juror for the 2010 MFA Annual Competition of New American Paintings, and we sat down to talk with her this week about the exhibition and the forthcoming competition.  —Evan J. Garza

EJG: You have a lot of experience working with emerging artists, from running Allston Skirt Gallery to now being at the ICA, to being on the selection committee for Artadia Boston, and now you just put together the 2010 James and Audrey Foster Prize show built entirely of emerging artists.
I think that’s a place where I really offer artists something, and I enjoy that. It’s interesting for me to all of a sudden be on a different stage. Putting on a show at a museum is really different than putting on a show at a gallery, but working with artists is always this great process.

EJG: What do you enjoy about working with emerging artists?
I think it’s really that there’s a collaborative feeling, and a feeling of trying to see the world through their eyes, see their work, often brand new work—like the Foster Prize show... These are nine really different artists and trying to get each of them to look as good as possible in their own vocabulary. It’s really fun. It's like a little bit of an adventure, and a journey for me, into their world.

EJG: Are you looking forward to going through MFA Annual competition submissions?
Very much so! I think that for someone who likes to look at things as much as we all do, why would you do this if you didn’t love to look at things? The idea of looking at something that’s new—not just in the sense of being novel but in the sense of seeing something taken in a new direction or seeing something reinvented in an interesting way—is really exciting. It’s something I really enjoy.

I feel about looking at this work that you really are looking at both something that’s grounded in something, and also to be going off in an inventive direction, that’s fun. You never know what you’re going to see or what’s going to feel strong to you.

EJG: I think what’s been the most remarkable thing for me, since becoming editor-at-large last year, has been creating a dialogue about exactly where painting exists now in contemporary art-making practices, because so many artists are working in several mediums, and how those practices inform their painting.
I also think it seems like New American Paintings has always thought in a broad way about what painting is as a concept. In some ways, a focus like this on a single medium, in this day and age, is really rare and so to be able to take a deep look at what that means is really, really interesting.

EJG: I think if you really want to have a conversation about new American paintings, a broad conversation definitely needs to take place.

Yeah, I think so too. And with students, that’s a really interesting place to look at what artists are doing. That’s the first moment—for as much as someone who’s chosen to become an artist has a certain kind of craftsmanship and a few ideas—this is that moment where you really start to break away into what your own voice is going to be in this medium. That’s a really fascinating thing to watch.

Also, New American Paintings has a reach that a museum doesn’t have. A museum is an amazing platform and stage for artists to share their ideas, and at the ICA people come from all over the world to see what we’re doing, and that’s very exciting. But a book that’s distributed the way that you are—in small towns everywhere, in schools everywhere, in places where people aren’t constantly visiting museums—that reach is another level of sharing what other artists are doing. I’m really honored to have something to do with it.

Randi Hopkins is Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where she has been on staff since fall 2008, organizing exhibitions including Krzysztof Wodiczko: OUT OF HERE (fall 2009), Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork (summer 2010) and the 2010 James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition (fall 2010). In April 1999, she co-founded Boston’s Allston Skirt Gallery, where she organized and presented an ongoing program of exhibitions and related events as co-director until June 2008. Her weekly "Museums & Galleries" arts column appeared in The Boston Phoenix from fall 1999 through fall 2008, and she has contributed essays to publications on artists Danica Phelps and Vaughn Bell. Her independent curatorial activities include organizing the exhibition Project for a New American Century at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, September 2008, as well as And the fair Moon rejoices at the Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts, June 2009.

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