Marek Wasilewski, an assistant professor at
the Academy of Fine Arts in Posnan, Poland,
spent the spring semester at Florida Atlantic
University teaching courses on experimental
sculpture and eastern European art and cinema.
The exchange not only benefited the students,
who had a unique opportunity to study under
an artist from a different part of the world,
but also served as a learning experience for
the scholar. "The goal of the Fulbright
program is to promote a mutual understanding
between the peoples of the United States and
other countries," Wasilewski said. "Ironically
my teaching experience forced me to understand
better the culture I'm coming from."
at the Museum of Contemporary Art
in Miami, Fla.
While in Florida, the scholar also had
time to devote to his own creative work,
which he shared with the campus through
a video installation, "Transition Point,"
at the university's Schmidt Gallery. According
to his faculty host, Robert Arnold, Wasilewski's
work "transforms every-day objects
and materials into ambiguous forms, challenging
the spectator/participant to question the
boundaries of the familiar and the self."
As both a widely exhibited artist and published
art scholar, Wasilewski received many invitations
from community organizations to speak about
his home country and the Polish art movement
to which he belongs. His activities included
addressing the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary
Art as well as making presentations to the
Polish American Cultural Society to commemorate
Polish Constitution Day.
Among the highlights of Wasilewski's stay
in the United States was an occasional lecturer
visit he made to Alaska in May. The guest
speaking invitation was offered by the artistic
directors of Out North Contemporary Art
House in Anchorage, whom the scholar had
met during a 1999 presentation in Lithuania.
At Out North, Wasilewski gave a video/slide
presentation on contemporary Polish art
and opened an exhibition of his work, "Objects
from Everyday Life." According to the
scholar, the video exhibition was "influenced
by my observations during the six months
residency in the USA. Living in a new place
and being surrounded by different realities
enables me to see the details of this reality
with a different angle." Gene Dugan,
one of Wasilewski's Out North hosts, wrote
of the visit, "This presentation helped
validate the work of artists working in
contemporary genres in our community, and
let them feel connected to the greater world
of contemporary art. Barriers and borders
were eradicated, and valuable dialogue took
place. . . . This brief residency was truly
ground-breaking for Alaska."