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Virtual Asian-American Art Museum Project

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Performance, Film, and Early Teaching

That’s a great story. Hearing about your thesis presentation on Warhol suggests to me that at this early moment in your career there was evidence of a hybrid art practice that included film, audio, and performance. Of course, you’re known for your theater pieces in addition to your paintings and prints.

Yes, when I went to Syracuse, I really lost myself in the whole world of filmmaking, which I just loved, and gave some serious thought to stopping my studies in painting and moving into film. So, that element was implanted at a pretty early stage in my career. Even as a teaching assistant for the two years that I was at Syracuse, where I was teaching basic three-dimensional design, I always included an element of performance, except it was called “happenings” at the time. I would tell students that they had five minutes to do something in front of a Super 8 movie camera. They would come in. I’d turn the camera on, and they would perform. I was good at stimulating them to do things that went way beyond what they ever thought they could do. When I got to the University of Kansas, I actually asked, even though I was hired to teach figure drawing, to teach basic 3-D design in the freshman studies program. Then I introduced performance—this time with video equipment—but the department didn’t like it because they thought the students were having too good a time.
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