Crane Arts Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia is rediscovering its deep cultural heritage as a source of enrichment, and economic and cultural revival. As the Lonely Planer's guide for the “Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2013” noted:
Forget the cheesesteaks and tri-corner hat. Philadelphia 1s becoming known as an art capital. In addition to the world renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, the formerly remote The Barnes Foundation, a once private collection of Matisse, Renoir and Cezanne, has a new central location. And it's not just the big museums - Philly's gallery scene is exploding with new venues like the Icebox garnering international attention and turning the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods into the new hot arts hub. First Fridays, the monthly gallery open house, long a tradition in Old City, has expanded to the refurbished loft District, where the party goes on in a host of new bars, clubs and live music venues.
For some time certain staff members and postgraduates at Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith, have had the good fortune to be involved as contributors and participants in the significant revival occurring in the Northern liberties area. In 2011, when Professor Nicholas Kripal and the other members of the Crane Arts team purchased the nearby magnificent old school buildings adjacent to Saint Michael's Church to transform them into galleries and studios, QCA was offered a very favorable lease on one of the prime studios on the top floor, with a view over the city.
However, the QCA-Philadelphia connection extends even further than the cultural remaking of the Northern Liberties area. More than a decade ago, Professor Mostyn Bramley-Moore established an exchange program with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Penn Academy) in Philadelphia, the oldest art school and museum in the United States. Two painting students from the Penn Academy worked for a semester at QCA in 2008, and several years before this. Karla Marchesi from QCA worked for a semester in the Penn Academy. After taking a relatively short time to establish her career in Australia. Karla opened her first international solo exhibition in Berlin in March this year, which no doubt indicates the benefits of international experience for emerging artists.
QCA, Griffith, has also had a long association with other art institutions in Philadelphia. Adjunct Judy Watson and Associate Professor Debra Porch have both worked in Philadelphia's internationally acclaimed Fabric Workshop and Museum, and Dr Ian Burns, a Gnff1th Postdoctoral Research Fellow, has taught at the renowned Tyler School of Art, Temple University, which recently relocated to a more central location, now physically part of its affiliate campus at Temple University and not far from the Crane Arts and Old School studios.
Almost all university or art school residency and exchange programs begin with particular professional and personal connections between individuals, but to have longevity such programs must transcend these initial connections. More specifically, the connection develops and becomes more securely cemented when each resident builds their own relationships in the host city or institution. This process is well under way with each of the 2012 resident artists featured in this exhibition making new connections, whether they are in the Tyler School of Art, Crane Arts, the fabric Workshop and Museum, other galleries, or simply with unaffiliated individual artists. In other words. the QCA International Studio is already achieving its primary aim to internationalise the practice and outlook of Griffith University artists and researchers by connecting them to one f the most exciting sites of cultural renewal in the United States.