U.Va. Chooses Inaugural Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence

The McIntire Department of Art of the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences has announced the selection of Los Angeles artist Cindy Bernard as the first Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence.

Funded by an endowment from the Peter B. and Adeline W. Ruffin Foundation, the Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence is an annual teaching position designed to bring artists of significant international stature to the University’s studio art program, which is housed in Ruffin Hall on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

“I am honored to be selected as the inaugural artist for this new visiting position at the University of Virginia,” Bernard said. “I was fortunate to stay at the Colonnade Club on the Lawn last June, and Jefferson’s conception and design for U.Va. is truly inspiring.”

As the first Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence, Bernard will work with studio art’s distinguished majors program at U.Va. through the 2013-14 academic year. Her residency will culminate in the summer with an exhibition at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia.

“The conceptual and visual sophistication of Cindy Bernard’s work, as well as her commitment to social responsibility, will have a profound impact on our students,” said Meredith Jung-En Woo, Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “They will learn about the liberating impact of the arts, and will learn to appreciate the responsibility of the artists to speak truth. We are honored to have Cindy Bernard as the first Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence.

“Over the years, we have taken strong steps to advance the arts at U.Va., and the Ruffin residency – which brings to U.Va. the best and most influential arts practitioners to creatively interact with our students – is an important program that I fully support.”

Bernard’s career spans nearly three decades. She is best known for photographs and projections that explore the relationship between cinema, memory and landscape, including the widely exhibited series “Ask the Dust” (1988-92), currently in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Bernard has received grants and fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, California Arts Council, Anonymous Was a Woman, the Harpo Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan, and was included in the Whitney and Lyon Biennials.

In addition to her visual practice, Bernard takes an active interest in the spaces and production of social exchange. She was a director and adviser to Foundation for Art Resources from 1985 to 1990, a founding director of the Coalition for Freedom of Expression and co-founder of MOCA Mobilization.

Bernard is also the founder and director of the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound, or SASSAS as it is commonly known, an organization she started in response to the need for a sustainable association dedicated to experimental music in Los Angeles. Bernard has produced more than 40 concerts for the organization.

Her interest in sound has spurred several projects, including a series of photographs of municipal band shells, which Bernard sees as an architecture of public exchange, and “The Inquisitive Musician,” an adaptation of a 17th-century German satire, “Musicus Curiosus, or Battalus, the Inquistive Musician; the Struggle for Precedence between the Kunst Pfeifer and the Common Players.” Presented as a staged reading incorporating video and live music, Bernard’s “The Inquisitive Musician” has been performed in New York, Los Angeles and most recently at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

“Social engagement has been a key element in my practice,” Bernard said. “I’m looking forward to participating in the Academical Village envisioned by Jefferson.”

UPDATED, Oct. 31, 10:25 a.m., to correct name of MOCA Mobilization; add acronym "SASSAS"; include full name of the play, “Musicus Curiosus, or Battalus, the Inquistive Musician; the Struggle for Precedence between the Kunst Pfeifer and the Common Players”; and clarify Bernard's final quote.

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