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By Matthew Nash

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to take part in a pair of discussions about art and the current state of creative practice. The first of these was at Lesley University for their first annual Scholarship Day, where I was part of a panel talk on "The De-skilling of Contemporary Art" moderated by Dr. Stuart Steck. The ideas generated by this talk are being advanced in a series of writings for a future issue of Big RED, and it was exciting to see a crowded room full of artists engaged in a lively discussion around their practice.

Later that same week I was a part of a colloquium at the Museum of Fine Arts titled "Defining Performativity: Four Perspectives" that featured Dr. Amelia Jones, Dr. Helge Meyer, AA Bronson and myself. This in-depth and extended dialogue probed many areas of art that I find most challenging, and it was an honor to sit on that stage with such great artists and academics.

During my preparation for those talks, and in the weeks that since, I have been overwhelmed and amazed by the increasingly dominant roles our academic institutions are taking in framing the dialogue around art in the Boston area. This time of year, especially, we can see the work of many young artists as they start their careers, and I know that most of the shows I've seen in the last few weeks have been of student work.

If you're not in the habit of checking out student shows, I highly recommend it. These young artists are at the end of a concentrated and intense period of creativity, and it shows in the work. Off the top of my head I know there are shows up or coming soon at The Art Institute of Boston, MassArt, The New England School of Art and Design, Montserrat College of Art, Boston University,Tufts University, while the Mills Gallery also features an exhibition by Museum School grad students. I'm sure there are more, add any that I've missed in the comments.

The abundance of academic institutions in Boston has also led to some great creative experiments with technology. This, of course, is the theme of the biennial Boston Cyberarts Festival, which begins on April 24th. Each festival grows larger and larger, and this year there are nearly 80 exhibitions, events, performances, discussions and experiments pushing the boundaries of art and technology. The festival spans most of the major institutions in Boston and Cambridge, and features artists with local, national and international careers.

Starting on the 23rd, Big RED & Shiny will feature a day-by-day listing of events during the 2009 Boston Cyberarts Festival on our homepage. Check back every day for updated information about what is going on and where you should be!

The next few weeks promise to be jam-packed with art of all types, with something for everyone. As the weather gets warmer, now is the time to escape to a school gallery to see some up-and-coming student artists, or check out one of the many Cyberarts events. Spring is here!

About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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