Brian Szeto (MFA Painting 2022)
Photo: Sarah C. Blanchette
Brian Szeto (MFA Painting 2022)
Photo: Sarah C. Blanchette
The Painting department is made up of highly ambitious artists developing their practices within a context of rigorous studio work, experimentation, research, and dialogue. We provide a distinct and irreducible educational experience, guided by the cross-pollinating interests of a diverse community of artists. The department supports a wide array of processes and practices, from traditional methods to experimental approaches.
Dynamic discussions further conceptual and procedural possibilities, as we collaboratively examine the unique modes, materials, and ideas each artist brings to the department. We engage and inspire one another with an ever-changing multitude of perspectives informed by current and varied understandings of art history, identity, theory, technology, philosophy, and culture.
Students energize each other as a community, while independently enacting their own visions of the limitless potential within the field of painting and contemporary art.
Martha Mysko creates color-saturated works that examine consumerism, class, taste, value, and material culture through the language of painting.
Mysko has had solo exhibitions at galleries including Belle Isle Viewing Room, Wasserman Projects, Marc Straus Gallery, Good Weather Gallery, and Sadie Halie Projects, as well as collaborative and two-person exhibitions at galleries including Fjord Gallery, Elephant Art Space, and Holiday Forever Gallery. Her work has been featured in Nylon Magazine, on Artforum, and included in numerous group exhibitions throughout the United States at institutions and galleries including Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, Library Street Collective, Reyes Finn Gallery, Essex Flowers, Storefront Ten Eyck, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Marc Straus Gallery, Time Equities Inc.’s Art-in-Buildings Program, and Oakland University Art Gallery.
Willie Wayne Smith employs a wide range of processes in his work, reinterpreting personal experiences and societal narratives within a complex array of visual languages.
He has presented his work in solo, group, and two-person exhibitions at venues including Harper’s (East Hampton), Library Street Collective (Detroit), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta), Essex Flowers (NYC), Good Weather Gallery (North Little Rock, AR), Central Park Gallery (Los Angeles), FJORD Gallery (Philadelphia), and Sadie Halie Projects (Brooklyn and Minneapolis), and Ruttkowski; 68 (Paris). His work has been featured in Widewalls, LAR Magazine, Art Viewer, and ArtSpace. In the fall of 2022, a selection of work was presented on the Anatomy platform through Library Street Collective (Detroit) alongside text, references, and interviews, including conversations with Matthew Day Jackson and Andrew Woolbright.
Contemporary and historical conversations in painting provide a framework to build upon, individually through studio work and research, and collectively as an intimate and rigorous academic community. We examine and explore painting’s possibilities, limitations, complexities, histories, signifiers, and current role in culture.
Our visiting artist curricula, reading discussions, and technical and professional workshops are curated in response to the varied interests and work in the department, and to the conversations happening in group critiques, studio visits, and organically in our day-to-day. The department is a permissive space in the best possible way, providing the context of a contemporary painting lens and the freedom to work in any chosen mode.
Cranbrook Painting students gain a solid foundation for lifelong art practice while engaging in a discourse that is continually relevant, deep, and expansive.
The Painting department hosts several visitors per semester who spend their time on campus providing varied perspectives during individual studio visits, lectures on their work, and leading reading groups or workshops. Visitors are selected with considerable thought to how they complement the unique and varied approaches to painting happening in the department.
Many of our visitors are invited based on recommendations from students, based on feedback throughout the academic year. The connections made during these intimate visits are often long-lasting and provide real-world networking opportunities with professionals in the field. Recent visitors have provided both formal and informal discussions around the mechanics of running a high-profile studio, breaking into academia while maintaining an active art practice, working with galleries, navigating the complexities of the art market, the importance of community, and an understanding that paths to success are varied, individualized, and within reach.
The Painting department houses 16 spacious, light-filled studios adjacent to the Artists-in-Residence; accessible 24 hours a day during the academic year. There is access to a shared kitchen for meals, studio breaks, and conversation. A designated critique room also functions as a flexible space for lectures, academic programming, meetings, and dinners with visiting artists.
Outside of our department, students have the opportunity to engage with resources, institutions, communities, and art networks within the Metro Detroit area and during our annual trip to New York City. In addition to scheduled visits with leading artists, there is time allotted to explore museums and galleries throughout Detroit and often a chance to connect with the many Cranbrook Painting alumni living and working there. These brief but intensive trips are an invaluable source of long-lasting insights, inspiration, networking opportunities, and professional connections.