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Schuleit Reveals Rumors

10/25/2010

In fall 2010 a 1,200-sf painting on the concrete façade of UMass Amherst’s Fine Arts Center prompted viewers to interpret it like a giant Rorschach test, thanks to visiting artist and Macarthur Fellow Anna Schuleit 98 PT. When seen reflected in the adjacent pond, the seemingly abstract design crystallized into a man’s face, creating a low-tech projection that changed in response to natural weather, wind and light conditions. Schuleit created Just a Rumor in response to the idiosyncratic site and in the wake of her research into the “missing faces” of Northampton State Hospital, the former psychiatric hospital where she staged the sound installation Habeas Corpus a decade ago.

Between then and now, Schuleit has earned an MA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in creative writing at Dartmouth (for an artist, “it can be important to translate ideas into words,” she observes). She has also completed a series of residencies – at Bogliasco (2009), Bowdoin College (2008), the Radcliffe Institute (2006), Yaddo (2005) and the MacDowell Colony (2007, 2005, 2002, 2000). These have, in turn, yielded major public art works such as Bloom (2003), in which she filled the Massachusetts Mental Health Center with 28,000 flowers, and Intertidal (2007), commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston as a site-specific outdoor installation on the Boston Harbor Islands.

When considering a new site for her work, Schuleit says, “I try to gaze in, hold still and record what I find. The connection begins when I have no clue what to do with my findings, or where to start.” 

Perhaps it’s this vulnerability and willingness to let the process be her guide that works so well for this young multimedia artist. Critics and the general public tend to be moved by her work; one reviewer calls it “architectural therapy,” while another describes Schuleit as “an activist, historian and minimalist, and...the rare combination of artist and healer.” Based on the impact of her work, she was selected as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow in 2006 and that fall earned the capstone of her early career accomplishments: a “genius” grant from the Macarthur Foundation. 

Related links:
Just a Rumor-An Installation by Anna Schuleit
Artist Grows With Her Art
Anna Schuleit
Anna Schuleit::BLOOM (2003)
1856.org - State Hospitals of Massachusetts 


tags: alumni, public engagement, research, Painting

Painting foreground image 2
Annabelle Speer, Large Field, oil on canvas