Archives, Artists, Interviews

10 Minutes with Sabina Ott

It turns out that the Democrats and Republicans weren’t the only ones stepping up to the podiums to broadcast the ways in which they would like to push us forward. In the winter of 2010, the College Arts Association called on its members to vote for the next board members to serve on their Board of Directors. Although she has spent a large part of her life on the east and west coasts, we in Chicago claim candidate, and winner, Sabina Ott as one of our own. What kind of New York turned California turned Windy City perspective will she bring to the CAA? Let’s ask her!

Sabina Ott

What has been your relationship with the College Arts Association? Why should students in the arts know about the CAA?

As the premier organization serving artists, art historians, and arts educators across the country,CAA has been invaluable to my practice as an artist, through grant and exhibition calls, job opportunities, and especially Art Journal and The Art Bulletin. I always recommend membership—I first joined in 1995—to my students as a way to connect with other artists and to develop an understanding of how the fields of art and education work.

2. What issues concerning those in the arts does the CAA address?

There are many challenges facing artists and educators: the effects of economic conditions, generational shifts in learning and teaching methods, new technological and communication tools—all subjects in the forums of public discourse that CAA provides—and should expand.

3. You are a 2010 Candidate for the CAA Board of Directors. As a board member, what unique viewpoint and enhancements would you bring to the College Arts Association?

As a board member I would use my extensive academic, administrative and teaching experience and connections in the art world to move CAA in these directions:

a. Increase CAA’s international presence by developing partnerships with the European League of Institutes of the Arts and other international organizations.

b. Work on CAA’s online presence by addressing our current website as well as utilizing social-networking venues. For example, I would like to work on web-based “kunsthalle” that would encourage art historians and curators to organize online exhibitions, thus highlighting the scholarship of art historians and the studio research of artists. Podcasts curated by art historians and artists are another possibility for expanding our reach and cultural presence.

c. Increase the visibility, services to, and participation of studio artists in CAA’s overall activities, regardless of academic affiliation.

d. Promote awareness of CAA and its services to college students by organizing informational lectures and presentations to academic art programs and developing an online component specifically for college students.

4. Why is the College Arts Association important to you?

CAA is a powerful organization representing enormous creative forces, with the potential to influence the role of the arts and art scholarship in our country and the world to an even greater extent than it already does. I would like to be part of this effort.

About Sabina Ott
Sabina Ott earned a BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1979 and 1981, respectively. An artist and educator, she has had over thirty solo exhibitions and participated in over seventy group shows, including venues in New York, California, Ohio, and Missouri; in Washington, DC; and in New Zealand and Australia.

Ott’s work merges painting, sculpture, digital media, and installation to explore cultural tropes, maps, text, and abstract geometries. She has produced many print editions since the late 1980s with Cirrus of Los Angeles, Experimental Workshop in San Francisco, Segura Press of Phoenix, andAnchor Graphics of Chicago. Ott has received a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artists Grant in 1990 and a Howard Foundation Grant from Brown University for research combining digital media and painting in 2001. She has also participated in a series of residencies and, most recently, completed a Chicago Transit Authority commission for the city of Chicago’s Red Line Station.

While in graduate school, Ott co-founded Jetwave, a nonprofit NEA-supported exhibition space in San Francisco. Since then she has worked with many artist-run exhibition venues and served on the boards of various art nonprofits in Los Angeles. During the past decade, she has curated over ten critically recognized exhibitions, written essays for various artists catalogues, and contributed toStretcher, an online publication, and Prompt Journal, a new Chicago magazine.

Ott has taught consistently throughout her artistic career, starting at the Art Center College of Design (1985–96) and California State University, Los Angeles (1990–94). As associate professor in the School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis, she served as the director of graduate studies (1995–2000). Accepting a position as graduate director of the San Francisco Art Institute, Ott oversaw the development of a new graduate facility and curriculum (2001–4). In 2005 she became chair of the Art and Design Department at Columbia College Chicago, where she led the faculty in revamping the department’s curriculum and was also responsible for its fiscal and academic administration (2005–7). Returning to her studio practice and the classroom, she is now a professor of art focusing on painting, interdisciplinary arts, and foundation studies.

For College Arts Association Members, voting ends on February 12, 2010 at 5:00pm Central Time. Exercise your right to be heard.

This interview was also published on the Columbia College Chicago CAA Blog.