UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 04 Spring 16 Library
Dan Addison

Ruffin Distinguished-Artist-In-Residence Questions Convention

The job of the artist is to go against the grain of dominant culture to challenge perception and convention
Mark Dion

Internationally acclaimed artist Mark Dion has spent the bulk of his career challenging the status quo. “The job of the artist,” he has said, “is to go against the grain of dominant culture to challenge perception and convention.”  This year, as the Ruffin Distinguished-Artist-in-Residence, Dion is challenging students in the McIntire Department of Art, as well as art lovers throughout Grounds and beyond, to do the same. 

Through a variety of offerings, including a public lecture, a unique semester-long course, an ongoing residency, and a Ruffin Gallery exhibition, Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Often infused with wit and irony, his questions target the authoritative voice of scientific inquiry in contemporary society. 

(Photo: Dan Addison)

Known for incorporating sites and community collaborations into his work, Dion has led pseudo-archaeological excavations along the banks of the Thames River and unconventional re-installations of museum collections. Featured on the PBS documentary series, art:21, his work has won numerous awards, including The Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucida Art Award. In addition, he has had major exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the Tate Gallery in London.

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