Monday, September 24, 2007

Lauren Cornell

Dear Jeffrey Hoone, Tom Walsh, Nancy Cantor, Eric Spina and Carole Brzozowski,

For the past week my inbox has been flooded with emails in regards to Astria Suparak's dismissal. All these letters have been upset and confused.

Everyone who has worked with Astria Suparak knows how sharp, dedicated and responsible she is. When I met her in the late 90s, she was a new, inspiring figure in the art world. She had -- and continues to have -- fresh, forward-thinking ideas and a deep commitment to artists and institutions. Through her well-respected touring programs, Astria brought the practice of a rock band together with that of a curator, presenting emerging film/ video artists in venues that ranged from established institutions like Yerba Buena to public high schools in Santa Fe. Her curatorial practice is underlined by progressive goals, generosity and rigor. As I understand, it has always been Astria's mission to connect diverse audiences around art and ideas.

I am sorry that Syracuse is losing Astria. In her short time there, she proved herself an asset to the Warehouse Gallery and the University. Rhizome's tenth anniversary exhibition Networked Nature traveled to Warehouse. Astria installed it there in a fantastic new form and was wonderful to work with as usual: dedicated, detail-oriented and focused on the artists. It was evident that she cared deeply about the connection to Syracuse University's student body, as she was enthusiastic about the organization of talks and interpretative materials. I spoke with my colleague Marisa Olson, Networked Nature's curator, to a group of students about the show. When I returned to New York, Emily Vey Duke forwarded me a candid letter from a student who had attended the talk and was excited about the work and learning about new media art for the first time.

I served as one of Astria's references for this position. I remember being asked to describe her and speaking about her incredible commitment to emerging forms of art. I also predicted that her risk-taking program would turn attention towards Syracuse, which all of her shows have done. I regret that the greatest press has been brought through her dismissal. Surely, if she had continued to work with you, she would have continued to produce thoughtful, provocative shows that fill a vital and much-needed space in Syracuse's cultural landscape.

Yours sincerely,

Lauren Cornell
Executive Director

No comments:


Syracuse has lost one its greatest assets. Astria Suparak, Inaugural Director of The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University, was removed from her position as of Sept. 30th, 2007, despite widespread support from community members, students, faculty, and the international art community. This decision was made unilaterally by Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

At the time of Suparak's dismissal, Hoone also canceled her forthcoming exhibitions, including "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," due to open in November 2007.