Art Forum

Department of Art and Design

Art & Design Forum is a speakers' series featuring notable artists, designers, art historians and art critics from around the world who come to campus to present their work and ideas in an open forum.  Admission is free and open to undergraduate and graduate students as well as the general public.

Past Art Forum speakers have included notables such as Chakaia Booker, Will Cotton, Aziz + Cucher, Inka Essenhigh, Judy Fox, Roxy Paine, Ursala Von Rydingsvard, and Seymour Chwast.

For further information and/or to confirm a scheduled date, call  973-655-4074.

Art & Design Forum Speakers: Current Schedule (see below)   l  Past Schedules             

[back to Visiting Professionals/Events]

Fall 2017 

THURSDAYS 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Montclair State University; Calcia Hall 135
Open to the Public; Admission is free 

September 7 – Opening

Introduction, course overview, elevator pitch


September 14 – Andrew Nicholls

In collaboration with Residency Unlimited

Andrew Nicholls is an Australian/British artist, writer, and curator whose practice engages with the sentimental, camp, and other historically-marginalized aesthetics, and traces the historical recurrence of particular aesthetic motifs. He is especially concerned with periods of cultural transition during which Western civilization’s stoic aspirations were undone by base desires, fears or compulsions. While primarily drawing-based, his practice also incorporates ceramics, photography, installation, performance, and filmmaking. He particularly draws inspiration from heritage sites and museum collections, and his curatorial practice largely focuses on artists’ residencies in such locations, in addition to the very remote regional Western Australian landscape. Nicholls will discuss his ongoing interest in marginalization and imperialism, and how these have been reflected through the decorative and literary arts, historically. This will include an introduction to his recent residency projects in China, England, Italy, and remote regional Australia.

September 21 – Public Space Agency, Fei Liu and Francis Tseng

Public Science Agency (PSA) is a research lab and creative consultancy co-founded by Fei Liu and Francis Tseng. Together, they explore the possibilities of games and simulations as tools for illustrating how society uses technology, and how technology informs social behavior. In their presentation, Public Science Agency will talk about the work they do with computer simulations and expand upon the learning affordances of speculative and embodied gameplay. They will present Humans of Simulated New York, a participative & speculative economic simulation and game based on 10 years worth of New York Census data, as well as other digital and physical experiences designed in tandem with computer simulations.

September 28 – Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-Bearskin is an artist, creative director, and organizer who develops cultural communities at the intersection of art, technology, and advocacy. She is currently the director of IDEA New Rochelle, Interactive Digital Environments Alliance (IDEA), dedicated to promoting, developing, and maintaining a vibrant new Arts and Technology District in the City of New Rochelle’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). She directs VR and immersive experiences which have been exhibited at festivals and museums since 2006. Amelia was a professor of time-based media art and performance art at Vanderbilt University for five years before returning to her roots in NYC creative technology, graduating from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2015. In 2016 she went on to found and direct the DBRS Innovation Labs, an applied ai research lab that specialized in developing creative uses of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.  Amelia is the founder of the Stupid Hackathon, which now holds events around the world.  She is a fellow of the  Sundance New Frontiers Lab 2017 , a 2017 Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow, a 2016 Oculus Launch Pad Fellow, an Artist in Residence at Pioneer Works 2016 and has her video artworks as part of the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the McCord Museum. 

October 5 - Kickie Chudikova

Kickie is an Industrial Designer born in Bratislava, currently living and creating in New York City. Alongside her work as Senior Industrial Designer for Karim Rashid, she has developed her own line of products, Kickie Design. Fascinated by new technology and influenced by the arts, Kickie is in constant search for unique balance. Passionate when making and producing with her own hands as she does in 3D software. A color believer striving for perfection & simplicity with big attention to detail. Kickie learned from the best in the field. At University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Prof. Hartmut Esslinger taught her to rethink paradigms in order to create innovative solutions. Karim Rashid in NY, strengthened her ability to quickly generate beautiful objects and understand production methods and costs. She believes advanced technology, environmental caution and attractive shape is the winning combination for designing objects that can significantly improve our world. 

October 12 – Andrea Mastrovito

In collaboration with More Art

Italian-American artist and animator Andrea Mastrovito will be presenting his most recent project NYsferatu, an ambitious public art project that combines film, music, and community engagement to create a powerful and poignant statement about immigrant rights in today’s world. Taking the first step in this lengthy process, Mastrovito and a team of artists, hand animated Friedrich W. Murnau’s seminal 1922 film Nosferatu, itself an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s story, Dracula. Using the technique of rotoscoping, each character, gesture, and expression has been redrawn in the original film’s classic style while the background of contemporary New York City brings the film to the current moment. Each recreated background has been drawn 3 times in order to replicate the beautifully eerie flickering shutter effect of early cinema. In all, the artist has made over 35,000 original drawings to create this feature length hand-animated film.

October 19 – Chen An-An

In collaboration with Residency Unlimited

Chen An-An is a sculptor and installation artist based in Taiwan. Her recent works revolve around the loss of LGBTQ individuals – to mourn their loss and how they become forgotten by society. Through making art, she explores ways of expressing loss and reconsiders how gender/sexual discrimination in Taiwanese society is rendered invisible.

October 26 - In Burchfield's Wake:  Artists Respond to the Environment

In collaboration with the Montclair Art Museum

As the earth heats up and more and more people inhabit it, consuming precious resources and exploiting the landscape, we humans find ourselves confronting a need for significant change in the way we respond to our world.  Environmental artists Adriane Colburn, Ellen Driscoll and Marina Zurkow have made this question central to their art making practices.  On this panel they will discuss their work and address issues of resource consumption and its material lineage, as well as romanticized notions of wilderness, the alteration of nature by industry and climate change and the relationships between scientific exploration and exploitation. Moderated by MSU professor Julie Heffernan.

Adriane Colburn is an artist based in San Francisco, CA and New Jersey.  Her recent work, large scale installations that investigate the complex relationships between human infrastructure, earth systems, technology and the natural world, have been exhibited throughout the US and internationally at venues such as Smack Mellon and Parsons/New School in New York, The Luggage Store Gallery and The Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Artsterium in the Republic of Georgia and at the Royal Academy of Art in London. A penchant for research and direct experience has led her to participate in scientific expeditions in the Arctic, the Amazon and at sea. She has been an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Macdowell Colony, the Kala Institute and The Blue Mountain Center. Adriane is currently on the faculty at Bard College.

Ellen Driscoll’s work encompasses sculpture, drawing, and public art installation. Recent large scale installations include “CartOURgraphy” for Middle College High School and the International High School in Queens, "Night to Day, Here and Away" for the Sarasota National Cemetery, “Distant Mirrors” for the Providence River, “FastForwardFossil #2” at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, and “Revenant” and “Phantom Limb” for Nippon Ginko, Hiroshima, Japan. Earlier works include “The Loophole of Retreat” at the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris, “As Above, So Below” for Grand Central Terminal (a suite of 20 mosaic and glass images for the tunnels at 45th, 47th, and 48th Streets), “Catching the Drift”, a restroom for the Smith College Museum of Art, and “Wingspun” for the International Arrivals corridor at Raleigh Durham airport. Ms. Driscoll has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, the LEF Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, a 2014 Fine Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a 2015 Siena Arts Institute Fellowship.  Her work is included in major public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of Art. She is Program Director of Studio Arts and Visiting Professor of Sculpture at Bard College. 

Julie Heffernan’s work explores mind’s eye imagery to create complex environments. She is represented by P.P.O.W. in NY and Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco. Heffernan is a member of the National Academy. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries throughout the world, including Hauser and Wirth in London and New York.  Heffernan has received numerous grants including an NEA, NYFA and Fullbright Fellowship and is in the collection of major museums including the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of FineArts.  Heffernan is a Professor of Fine Arts at Montclair State University.

Marina Zurkow is a media artist focused on near-impossible nature and culture intersections, researching “wicked problems” like invasive species, superfund sites, and petroleum interdependence.  She has used life science, bio materials, animation, dinners and software technologies to foster intimate connections between people and non-human agents. Her work spans gallery installations and unconventional public participatory projects. Currently, she is working on connecting toxic urban waterways to oceans, and researching the tensions between maritime ecology and the ocean’s primary human use as a capitalist Pangea.


November 2 – Farideh Sakhaeifar

In collaboration with Residency Unlimited

Born in Tehran, Iran (1985) Brooklyn-based artist Farideh Sakhaeifar received her BFA from Azad Art and Architecture University, Tehran, Iran; and MFA from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. In her practice, Sakhaeifar aims to make social and political struggles visible. Her work functions as a memorial to collective memory and denounces the problematics of consuming mediated images and narratives. She invites the audience to question the imposing limitation that any discourse of power including hierarchies, terror and surveillance, religion, and state enforce upon nations. As an artist, she feels challenged by these concepts and assumes this opportunity to look past such forms of ethnic, political, and cultural control in order to reflect upon new forms of expression that highlight our struggle to establish an autonomous form of self-expression. Sakhaeifar aims to produce a translational understanding of social and political struggles that she has been involved in directly or indirectly.


November 9 – Manal Abu-Shaheen

Manal Abu-Shaheen (b. 1982) is a Queens-based artist born in Beirut, Lebanon. She received a MFA in Photography from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT in 2011; a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY in 2003; and attended Lebanese American University, Byblos, Lebanon in 1999. Abu-Shaheen will talk about the progression of her work in photography, leading up to her current series of black and white landscape and street photographs from her ongoing series Beirut. Shot in the city where she was born, this series considers connections between the imagery we see in contemporary Beirut and the city’s colonial past. The congestion of billboards reveals the city’s occupation by images of a different place and people, a euro-centric cultural dominance that asserts the necessity of its presence for the achievement of progress. In an arena outside of its origin, the dialogue around representation in western media takes on layers of new meaning, which become inextricably linked to the social history of a distant place.

November 16 - Tessa Mars

In collaboration with Residency Unlimited

Tessa Mars is a Haitian visual artist living and working in Port-au-Prince. She completed a bachelor in Visual Arts in France, at Rennes 2 University in 2006. Upon her return to Haiti the same year she started working as a Cultural projects coordinator at the AfricAméricA Foundation. She had her first exhibit in 2009 at the Georges Liautaud Museum in Port-au-Prince and since then her work as been shown in Canada, France, Italy and the United-States. Her recent work questions the role of history, customs and beliefs in the construction of the individual’s identity. Tessa Mars will present her current research project related to the construction of the Haitian immigrant identity. She will touch on previous work that explore notions of patriotism, national sovereignty and confronts them to the reality of an ever growing pessimistic view of the country’s future, a dependence on foreign funds and the idealization of a Western/American life style.

November 23 - Thanksgiving

November 30 – Vibha Galhotra

VIbha Galhotra is a recipient of prestigious Rockefeller Grant at their Bellagio Center, 2016. At present, she is an Asian Cultural Council fellow in the US, pursuing continual research on belief and reality to intervene on the subject of Anthropocene. Galhotra's practice ranges across photography, film, video, found objects, performative objects, sculpture, installation, text, sound, drawing, and public interventions. Vibha shares, that her art practice crosses the dimensions of art, ecology, economy, science, spirituality, and activism and constantly trying to create a parallel between belief and reality, absence and presence, construction or [De] construction within the social, political and economical domain of our constructed structures. The constant negotiation of human with ecosystem and win the mystery within that ecosystem, interest her to continue her practice based on research and intuitive imagination to understand and question the alienation of human in the atmosphere or the atmosphere in the human dominated world. Through her massive but aesthetic work (both philosophically and structurally) she tries to redefine her own existence and ownership in this commerce driven world.