March 4, 2019


Syracuse University

Taylor Clock, Camcorder, 2018. Mixed media.


As a society, we lie to children all of the time. The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus: all stories and mythologies designed not only to entertain, but also to shield children from some of life’s harsher realities. As we grow, the stories change. Some function as tools of control, designed to indoctrinate us into established systems and they’re resulting social structures. Some are simply life lessons meant to prepare. Most of what we tell the youth is meant to protect them; gradually letting a little more of the real world in, but still allowing room for ideas like meritocracy, fairness, and the triumph of good over evil to exist in the mind as hard truths.

At some point though the veil is fully lifted, the wizard steps out from behind the door, and we begin the long process of seeing ourselves, the world, and our place in it, for what they really are. Depending on your background, that uncovering could come as no shock at all. The world forces some people to grow up much faster than others, and it is exactly as they know it to be. For others, it’s a smack in the face, that gust of cold air that literally feels like it cuts your cheek. We all exist somewhere on this spectrum, and as we go through this process, we must redefine things for ourselves. We must reconsider our previously held tenets, beliefs, and desires in order to adapt and evolve.

When I came to do studio visits with the Syracuse MFA students, this process is the continuous thread I saw in their work, the connective tissue. I cannot say whether this is a function of where they are in their lives, the political moment we are in, the future we are facing, or simply because this group of artists have been sharing the same physical and critical space for the past three years. Regardless of reason though, at the end of that weekend I came away with a sense of a group of people who were all re-evaluating and redefining something for themselves in order to align it with, or react to, the reality they saw playing out before them. For some of these artists, this questioning was social and political in nature. For others, extremely personal. Some were broad, and others incredibly specific. In some of the work this process is quite overt. In others more subtle, but present nonetheless.

PLANS ARE CANCELLED celebrates this re-examination. People might think that the phrase itself hints towards the negative, or conjures thoughts of disappointment and cynicism, but that’s not something I saw in the work, or in the students. There is a certain agency in defining something for yourself; in creating a worldview that makes sense to you, based on your sober examination of the facts, and not abiding by the ones given to you by society and its various actors, even if they were well-intentioned. Cancelled plans are opportunities for new ones to be made; ones that better fit the situation we currently find ourselves in. And let’s face it, as we all get older, we learn that sometimes cancelled plans are the best ones.

Participating artists:

E. Garret Bryan, Perry Burlingame, Jason Cheney, Taylor Clock, Samantha Corbett, Jialun Deng, Rebecca Forstater, Rene Gortat, Leticia Hernandez, Adam Hutchinson, Megan King, Hollie Lyko, Salome Kokoladze, Sylvie Pendergast-Corvo, Jestenia Southerland, Jeremy Tarr, Louise Thompson, Jie Wang, Haotian Wu, Yilu Yang, Seok Wun Au Yong, Mark Zbikowski

Curated by: Scott Vincent Campbell

Scott Vincent Campbell (b. 1983) is a visual artist and curator born in New York, and currently based in Detroit, MI. Working primarily in drawing, collage, and mixed-media sculpture, his studio practice examines the social and cultural constructs that inform our identity, motivate our behavior, and ultimately shape our societies. Visually inspired by semiotics and African-American material culture, his work takes the form of serial projects, each created around a set of aesthetic guidelines which dictate the form, materiality, and imagery in a given body of work. Campbell has exhibited widely in New York and throughout the Midwest, and in 2017 was the inaugural Ford Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In addition to his studio and curatorial practice, Campbell is also the Artist Liaison at Red Bull Arts Detroit, an artist residency and experimental, non-commercial exhibition space in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University has a tradition of excellence in educating cultural leaders that goes back more than 130 years. Graduate students in the MFA programs in Studio Arts and Transmedia enjoy the benefits of an intimate and rigorous interdisciplinary graduate program with access to the resources of a major university; small class sizes; an award-winning and diverse faculty; and national and international semester residency programs with mentoring from prominent artists and curators. Recent graduates have received numerous exhibitions, awards and residencies including Skowhegan School For Painting And Sculpture, screenings at the Cannes film festival and a MacArthur “genius” grant. With semester residency programs opportunities in Los Angeles, London, and Berlin, and such Syracuse institutions as Light Work, the Connective Corridor and the Urban Video Project,the college has built an educational environment that thrives on critical thought and action.

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