February 2008, Valencia, CA--The 2008 Whitney Biennial  includes an exceptional number of artists connected to California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). The Biennial is the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States today and 14 of the 81 artists in the upcoming exhibition have been associated with CalArts as alumni or teachers. The 2008 Whitney Biennial opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75 Street, on March 6, and runs through June 1, 2008.
Artists in this year's Biennial include CalArts alumni Edgar Arceneaux (MFA 01), Robert Fenz (MFA 02), William Jones (MFA 90), Alice Konitz (MFA 99), Daniel Martinez (BFA 79), Rodney McMillian (MFA 02), Matt Mullican (BFA 74), Stephen Prina (MFA 80), Marina Rosenfeld (MFA 94) and James Welling (BFA 72). Former faculty members include Walead Beshty, Fritz Haeg, Charles Long and John Baldessari--who is also an alumni of the Chouinard Art Institute which, in 1961, merged with the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to form CalArts.
CalArts is the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States developed specifically for students of both the visual and the performing arts. It was created through the vision of Walt Disney who provided funding for it in his will and opened its campus, outside of Los Angeles in Valencia, California, in November 1971.
One of the leading arts institutions in the world, CalArts is recognized for its commitment to creative thinking and risk-taking. The Institute is known for challenging artistic traditions and enabling young artists to learn from--but also to question--some of the world's top practitioners. This artistic philosophy is shared among the artists featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
"I've grown to expect a significant CalArts presence in any major national or international exhibition of contemporary art, but the remarkable number of faculty and alumni in this year's Whitney Biennial surprised even me, "said Steven D. Lavine , President of CalArts. "Anyone who steps on campus will immediately understand why: faculty and students question, on a daily basis, what matters now in the arts and in the world"
The exhibition highlights the development, over the years, of a thriving art community that continues to attract artists and build upon aspirations for continued growth. "It's quite remarkable that a school as small as ours has had such an impact on the look of art made in America over the past four decades, and quite terrific to see a cross section of that contribution in this year's Biennial," said Thomas Lawson , Dean of the School of Art.
The nation's first art institute to offer BFAs and MFAs in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work, and students are admitted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To encourage experimentation, CalArts' six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--are all housed under one roof in one five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, just 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.