HomeCurrent IssueAdam Stennett ‘94 ‘kept making art’

Adam Stennett ‘94 ‘kept making art’

By Katie Dobbs

On Friday, Sept. 26, Adam Stennett ‘94 will return to speak with students and faculty as a part of the Hogue-Sponenburgh Lecture Series. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the Paulus Lecture Hall at the Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center.

Stennett graduated with a double major in English and studio art. After Willamette, he moved to New York, where he became a distinguished artist working in various mediums including painting, video, installation and his famous survival shack.

Stennett titled his lecture “Keep Making Art,” after an experience he had just after leaving Willamette.

“When I first moved to New York, I found a small studio in Brooklyn. It was an old storefront—a great space but kind of a dodgy neighborhood —I moved in and sent James Thompson, who had been my adviser, a postcard,” Stennett said. “Then I got a job working in a gallery and he sent me a postcard back and at the end of the postcard it said, ‘Keep making art,’ and that really stuck with me because that is the whole trick to being an artist,” Stennett said.

One Hogue-Sponenburgh lecturer, founding director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Marcia Tucker, was influential in Stennett’s life as an undergraduate at the University.

“For me, when Marcia Tucker came and spoke it really opened my world, it really brought New York to Willamette,” Stennett said. “And I feel like what Willamette is doing with the Hogue-Sponenburgh lecture is bringing the world to Willamette and opening people’s eyes and making their world larger.”

The lecture series’ web page describes Stennett’s work as addressing current issues in our society such as “big pharma, urban displacement, government sponsored secret projects and fear and survival in a post -9/11 world.”

Stennett has been a part of multiple one-person and group exhibitions. His work has been reviewed and featured in various publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine and Esquire.

Assistant Professor of Art History Abigail Susik said she interprets Stennett’s work as relevant to contemporary culture and society.

“His work is very much a performance of current media concerns, so I think there is a way in which he taps into collective issues and psychological issues that permeate our lives,” Susik said.

The annual lecture brings leaders in the arts to facilitate a speech and conversation with students and faculty. It is organized in alternate years by the department of art history and, as it was this year, by the department of art.

Professor of Art James Thompson organized Stennett’s lecture.

“At least for the art department, we’re definitely trying to bring in artists—working professional artists so that students can see the practice and hear from someone who is really working in the field of art,” Thompson said.


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