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Samuel Feldblum

Samuel Feldblum studies geography at UCLA and reports across the southern half of the United States.

Space Between

Peter Schjeldahl, speaking with Jarrett Earnest in the July/August issue of the Rail, pointed out that sculpture can be “irritating” because, unlike some of its peers, it competes for space with the viewer. We wonder “what it is, why it’s there, and when it will go away.


When a redwood tree is feeling fatalistic, it sends up saplings from its roots, surrounding its trunk. The shoots leap from life’s final breaths to begin fresh: “Old, new, dead, and unborn // one and the same.” Molly Lowe’s film Redwood, currently showing at Pioneer Works alongside an accompanying installation, begins with a description of this collapsing circle of life.

Nature, Science, and Imagination

Although seemingly ubiquitous in pop culture, MC Escher is not accorded much weight in more traditional fine-art circles. This is, perhaps, because he is something of a flash in the pan.

Nina Chanel Abney Royal Flush

From the outset of her career, painter Nina Chanel Abney draped identities over her characters as changeably as clothes. Her thesis work, Class of 2007 (2007), depicts her school cohort in negative, with Abney—the only black student in the class—as a white prison guard, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, with assault rifle in hand. Her classmates, depicted as black prisoners, don orange jumpsuits and manacles.


At the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, in the old Hanes family mansion in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Dispatches offers thirty-four artists and photojournalists a chance to “redefine the world issues of our time.”

Subterranean Sculptural Blues

In Memphis, a sun-baked blues town where history oozes from ramshackle brick façades, the musician’s studio often trumps the painter’s. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that downtown Tops Gallery is underground, in a basement behind a working stained glass factory.


Francesco Vezzoli is an artist whose work telescopes time. His needlepoint pieces starring actresses and models as Madonna with child, created in Italy in the late ’90s, collide classic tropes with a more familiar, dynamic modernity.

Reality of My Surroundings: The Contemporary Collection

This winter, Duke’s Nasher Museum contributed its two cents to the roiling national conversation on race by celebrating its tenth anniversary with a show of artists of African descent, organized by chief curator Trevor Schoonmaker.


Adam Magyar’s first solo show in New York, Kontinuum, contemplates the calm and the fury of time.

In Conversation

KIRSTEN JOHNSON with Samuel Feldblum

Kirsten Johnson’s documentary cinematography has taken her swirling into the eddies of global human trauma. Her newest film, Cameraperson (2016),which revisits her earlier footage as memoir, headlined April’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC, as part of the fest’s programmatic tribute to Johnson, which included work from throughout her career.

Back to School, Back to Work

On a frigid, gray day in November 2014, Professor Mark Crispin Miller of NYU spoke through a megaphone to a crowd of stamping, mitten-clad graduate students. “Everything that’s wrong with higher education,” he charged—profiteering, increasing reliance on graduate students and adjunct labor for teaching, ballooning costs—“NYU is the avant-garde!”

Research and Real Estate in the New Global University

An old New York saw has it that Columbia and New York Universities will continue buying up property in the north and south of Manhattan until they meet in the middle. But as the real estate dealings continue apace in New York and across the globe, pushback against NYU has intensified, from without and within.

Cuomo’s Gamble and CUNY’s Full-Throated Retort

In January, while planning the state budget, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $485 million cut to state funding for the City University of New York (CUNY), expecting the city to pick up the balance.

Labor Costs and the Life of the Mind

On August 23, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided that graduate student workers at private universities may unionize and bargain collectively. The ruling ended a twenty-month wait for Columbia graduate students, who had petitioned the NLRB in late 2014.

Harvard’s Graduate Students Union Versus the Trappings of Success

2016 was a banner year for graduate student organizing on university campuses. In August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that graduate student workers had the right to organize and bargain collectively as university employees, reversing a 2004 decision by a more conservative board.

In Conversation

NATALIE BAKER with Sammy Feldblum

When Hurricane Harvey hit land, and Natalie Baker hopped on a boat to strike out into the storm, she was venturing into both physical calamity and her academic dreamland.

NYU Graduate Union Votes for Change

Last month in this space, H. Rutgers (self-unmasked in the Web version as faculty member Gary Roth) described the increasing profiteering of top university figures at his namesake school while lower-level professors and students foot the bill.

What’s the Use of a University?

The history of the University of California over the last half-century has been written through protest. Student movements and labor actions alike erupt iteratively in response to changes in the UC’s structure. Amid one longer struggle, each generation fights its own particular battles.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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