Main Gallery

Artspace’s 17th Annual Summer Apprenticeship Program: Masturbatory Delusions

July 28—September 9, 2017

For intellectual activity, according to me, is, and must be, disinterested— the truth is a two-edged sword– and if one is not willing to be pierced by that sword, even to the extreme of dying on it, then all of one’s intellectual activity is a masturbatory delusion and a wicked and dangerous fraud.
—James Baldwin, No Name in the Street, 1972

Artspace is pleased to announce our 17th annual Summer Apprenticeship Program and its affiliated exhibition Masturbatory Delusions.  This program aims to give a group of New Haven public high school students the opportunity to work alongside Lead Artist Nona Faustine. Over three weeks in July, the apprentices will study Faustine’s technique, process, and set of historical influences. They will produce photographs that emulate her style, interest in self-portraiture, and questions relating to site, invisibility, and power.

My Country is an ongoing series documenting iconic U.S. monuments and sites which carry the invisible histories of African-American enslavement.  To reclaim these histories, Faustine photographs her body, sometimes only partially clothed, in these spaces. The resulting images are powerful and vulnerable, challenging the patriotism typically associated with these sites and demanding that the viewer rethink the way our government memorializes some individuals and sites but not others.  

Using My Country as a prompt, the apprentices will work with Faustine to identify sites around New Haven which carry their invisible personal stories.  Faustine will direct them in the practice of setting up cameras to take their own portraits in these sites, providing them with a method for writing their legacies into the history of their city. In the final week of the program, the apprentices will mount these works in the galleries, giving them titles and writing texts which describe the meanings of their pieces.

Faustine developed the program’s curriculum to encourage the apprentices to explore self-portraiture as a strategy for communicating the times in which we’ve found ourselves.  Her local site visits and lessons will help apprentices think intensely about the fragile and ever-changing concept of democracy, making these questions available to viewers through the students’ works.  In conjunction with the student show, Faustine will exhibit a solo show of work from her two most recent series, White Shoes and My Country.  Historian La Tanya Autry (most recently the Marcia Brady Tucker Fellow, Photography Division, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Yale University Art Gallery) has been invited to guest curate Faustine’s show and will contribute an essay and wall texts.

An Awards ceremony will take place Friday, July 28, at 5:30pm.

2017 Apprentices:

  • Leilanie Arce (Wilbur Cross High School)
  • Eva-LaRue Barber (Home Schooled))
  • Mia Cappiello (Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School)
  • Renna Chambers (Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School)
  • Ayah Simone Eldridge (Amistad High School)
  • Michael Jonathan Jimenez (Metropolitan Business Academy)
  • Anton Edward Kot (Educational Center for the Arts)
  • Jennifer Lopez (Wilbur Cross High School)
  • Hazel Mencos (Wilbur Cross High School)
  • Alysha Molina (Wilbur Cross High School)
  • Benie N’sumbu (Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School)
  • Daniel Ramirez (New Haven Academy)
  • Anthony Simpson (Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School)
  • Phoenix Taylor (Wilbur Cross High School)
  • Winter von Kohler (Metropolitan Business Academy)

Nona Faustine (MFA ’13, ICP-Bard) is a Brooklyn-based photographer and visual artist whose work focuses on the points at which history and identity intersect.  For her two most recent series, White Shoes and My Country, Faustine often places herself in the center of the image.  In White Shoes, she photographed her nude body in marked and unmarked historic sites of slavery around Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, including a Dutch pre-revolutionary cemetery in Brooklyn where three enslaved people are buried among settlers; the Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan, built on top of the African Burial Ground; and Federal Hall on Wall Street, a historic site of slave auctions.  Her ongoing series, My Country, introduces a disruptive grey line that bisects iconic U.S. monuments around New York and Washington, D.C., including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Statue of Liberty.  The line questions the symbolic legacies we assign certain sites and recognizes that a commemorative site for one person may be a space of trauma for another.

Faustine’s images have received international attention and have been published in a variety of media outlets, including the New York Times, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, Village Voice, The Guardian, Artforum, Aperture, Fader Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail.  Her work was recently exhibited in group shows at Sprueth Magers Gallery in Los Angeles that put her work in dialogue with Carrie Mae Weems, Kara Walker, Betye Saar, and other pioneering black female artists who address the body and power.  Faustine has also exhibited at the Schomburg Center for Black Research in Harlem; the International Center of Photography, New York; Mana Contemporary, Jersey City; the Studio Museum of Harlem; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; the African American Museum in Philadelphia; and Baxter St. Camera Club in New York. Faustine’s work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum of Harlem. She has lectured at Albany State University, Bucknell University, and Marist College among others.  Her work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum of Harlem.

The 2017 Summer Apprenticeship at Artspace is made possible thanks to the generous support of Nancy Grover, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Seymour Lustman Fund, Ruby Melton & Gail McAvay, and Roz Meyer, the Eli Whitney Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the Yawkey Community Service Fellowship and the Yale President’s Public Service Fellowship, The Public Welfare Foundation, Paddle 8/Artspace auction bidders, and other Friends of Artspace.