Hunt, Ritual, Sacrifice: The Art Fair as American Icon

Professor Mary Carothers,
Sharon M. Scott
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Climbing from Garden Club fundraisers to the elite heights of New York society, the Art Fair appears in multiple incarnations across the girth of the United States. Only recently validated by the authoritative establishments of high art, the importance of the Art Fair has been felt by more humble American communities for decades. Whether they are elite New York events or popular street festivals, it is obvious that Art Fairs are dealing in more than art.

Art Fairs stand as community timekeepers. Year after year Americans return to their ceremonial marketplace. They hunt fashion and like-mindedness as they participate in the consumer celebration. The wealth, time, and taste necessary to enjoy the fair attests to the prosperity of the nation. Adjusting its tempo to the momentum of American culture, the Art Fair reinvents itself to suit all interests and economic groups. This is a highly segregated phenomona. This paper examines the identity of the art fair as it shifts in response to American politics, economics, and social trends. There are as many Art Fairs as there are definitions of art. Each manifestation appeals to its buyers in relation to their aesthetic interests or social influences. There are even Art Fairs for those who despise Art Fairs. Presented by Scott and Carothers, this discussion explores the American Art Fair as an icon of social progress and individual achievement. Like Football Sundays or fireworks at the Fourth of July, days at the Art Fair provide the community with occasions to hang memories upon. Inside and outdoors, from high art to body art, in exclusive society or on the Internet, the Art Fair is a unifying ritual that perpetuates the survival of a capitalist culture.

Keywords: American Art Fair, Contemporary Art, Art Market, American Iconography
Stream: Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Professor Mary Carothers

Professor of Photography, Allen R. Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville

Interested in issues of American mobility, she has shown her work in the back of rental trucks, on signposts, at campgrounds and home improvement centers. She has also exhibited her work more formally at CEPA Buffalo and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. She currently teaches Fine Art at University of Louisville and is trying to resolve how to freeze the car in her garage into a block of ice for the winter.

Sharon M. Scott

PhD Candidate, Allen R. Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville

Funded by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, Sharon Scott has been collaborating with Zapatista dollmakers in Chiapas, Mexico. Her continued interest in rebel communities has recently spawned an art installation project for Belfast, Ireland. Exhibiting internationally in museums and non-traditional venues Scott persistently challenges social, aesthetic and geographic borders. She has curated at the Woodruff Art Center, written for Atlanta Magazine, and researched for ABC Discovery News. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Louisville where she is involved with the aesthetic colonization of cyber-space.

Ref: H06P0236