University of South Florida Museum of Contemporary Art Expands to St. Petersburg – Oracle

by AryanArtnews
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The Academy of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art plan to engage more with the St. Petersburg community by building the Dynamo: USF Museum of Contemporary Art. For ORACLE/USF

The USF Museum of Contemporary Art (CAM) is expanding into St. Petersburg to support student and public participation in technology and art.

The merger resulted in the USF School of Art leasing 3,100 square feet of space at The Factory St. Pete in the Warehouse Arts District.

The gallery, called Generator: USF Museum of Contemporary Art, aims to highlight environmental issues, sustainability and social justice through contemporary artwork. Art Institute dean Christopher Garvin expects Generator to officially open to the public in August 2022.

Generator’s gallery space is rented out for $75,000 a year, according to Margaret Miller, director of the Art Institute. The rent is borne by the city of St. Petersburg, with a commitment to finance it over the next three years.

The Academy of Arts and CAM are currently finalizing the building and lease contract with the city of St. Petersburg and the factory, Miller said.

“I hope we’ll start construction in the next few weeks, and the space will be ready for the first show by the start of the fall semester,” she said.

Miller said the expansion process was funded by the St. Pete campus. Other key backers include The Factory, Behar + Peteranecz Architects and St Petersburg City Centre Partners.

Generator is designed as a post-consumer model, which means that immersive time-based media and digital art such as projectors, movies, and augmented reality will be showcased, rather than physical artwork.

By avoiding buying physical art, Generator will remain environmentally conscious, Garvin said. Using artwork that can be accessed in files, rather than buying pieces and shipping them to galleries, will allow CAM to reduce its carbon footprint.

“There won’t be a picture on the wall, there will be a [digital] experience it there. We think that translates to generations other than me,” Gavin said.

“Millennials and young people, they understand the value of experiences, like just buying and consuming things. So it’s a new way of looking at art.”

Sarah Howard, curator of public art and social practice at CAM, said the expansion will not only provide students on the St. Peter campus with easier access to CAM, but also job and internship opportunities.

Howard said the School of Art intends to incorporate educational programs, lectures, curatorial visits and other events into Generator to engage students and the public in the arts and culture that USF has to offer.

According to Howard, after Generator opened, the first tentative artist was the Danish artist and activist group SUPERFLEX.

Much of SUPERFLEX’s work revolves around living between species and what humans can learn from animals to better manage the environment. Many of their works take the form of energy systems, beverages, sculptures, replicas, hypnotic lessons, infrastructure, paintings, plant nurseries, contracts and public spaces.

“Their practice in particular blurs the lines between art, design, science and activism, providing creative perspectives on challenging global and social issues through the use of humor, play and imagination,” says Howard.

For Generator in particular, Howard is interested in SUPERFLEX’s research on how the marine environment teaches people to adapt to the effects of climate change.

While nothing is set in stone yet, the Academy of Arts and CAM will be meeting with SUPERFLEX representatives to discuss future collaborations this week.

CAM will also feature local artists, who are still considering their options, Miller said.

“Our project at Generator will be a combination of leading international artists, nationally known artists and really good local artists,” she said. “We’ve just gotten there and we’ve got everything set up, but it’s very exciting.”

Given all his and CAM’s goals for the gallery, he hopes it will eventually become an artistic unity for USF and the local St. Petersburg community.

“The most important part of that is that we are going all out and making a commitment to St. Petersburg and the community,” he said. “We invite people on campus, we invite the community to be a part of our… [College of Arts] Really want to be a community leader in this field and we’ll keep trying. This is just the beginning. “

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