Watch & Listen

Rubber Bands and Chalk Dust: A Conversation with the Students of Robert Reed

This program explores the influence of artist and educator Robert Reed (1938–2014). A devoted pedagogue, he taught drawing and painting for fifty years, and was the first African American professor tenured by the Yale School of Art. In 2014, Reed summed up his approach to teaching: “I was less interested in teaching drawing because that's easy. The difficult part is trying to get young people to think about themselves. I often think about an analogy of my teaching and that would be of a rubber band. And my job has to do with trying to stretch that rubber band to the point where people begin to realize what they are capable of…there is wisdom when you find out what you can do and what you can't do.” 

Bringing together artists who studied with Reed at different times during his long tenure at Yale, this conversation reflects on the creative acts of teaching and learning. Speakers include Byron Kim, Prem Krishnamurthy, Enrico Riley, and Rachel Rose. The conversation is moderated by Howard Singerman. 

This program is organized in conjunction with Robert Reed Drawing Workshops. 

Byron Kim often works in an area one might call the abstract sublime. His work sits at the threshold of abstraction and representation, between conceptualism and pure painting. Kim’s best-known work, Synecdoche, was included in the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Comprising a grid of hundreds of panels depicting human skin color, the painting is both abstract monochrome and a group portrait. Once a week since 2001, Kim has made a small painting of the sky on which he inscribes a few momentary thoughts. These Sunday Paintings have become a personal cosmology which contrasts the everyday against the everything. 

Prem Krishnamurthy is a director and partner of Wkshps, a multidisciplinary design workshop. Wkshps succeeds the internationally acclaimed design studio Project Projects (2004–2017), which Krishnamurthy co-founded. Project Projects was the recipient of Cooper Hewitt Museum’s 2015 National Design Award for Communication Design, the USA’s highest recognition in the field. 

Enrico Riley is a painter whose recent work is part of an unfolding and evolving cycle that investigates themes of historical and contemporary violence, martyrdom, grief, hope, and the middle passage within a spatial domain. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Rome Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize. He is a Professor of Studio Art at Dartmouth College. 

Rachel Rose has established herself as one of the foremost artists working in and with video. Rose’s work complicates the divisions between multiple categories of moving image: found and original footage coalesce to explore states between real and artificial, interior and exterior, dead and alive. Whether investigating cryogenics, the American Revolutionary War, modernist architecture, or the sensory experience of walking in outer space, Rose’s multivalent body of work articulates with accuracy and nuance what it is that makes and keeps us human and the ways we seek to alter, enhance, and escape that designation. 

Howard Singerman is the author of Art Subjects: Making Artists in the American University (1999) and Art History, after Sherrie Levine (2012). He currently works as the Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Chair of Art and Art History at Hunter College.