From Bryan Ellingson:
I cannot stress how valuable the Kossak Painting Fellowship has been to me and my artistic development. The monetary funding was, of course, extremely useful towards the execution of ambitious projects, but it was the visiting artists who made the experience stellar. Every single artist that visited shared with us a wealth of knowledge, experience, and understanding of art. I took extensive notes during each visit, writing down whatever snippets of their talks that struck me as important, always pages and pages. I feel like I received a compressed version of a semester’s worth of education from every visitor.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you Ms. Evelyn Kossak for your gift. It has made an amazing difference in my life. With the combination of Hunter’s art program and the Kossak Painting Fellowship, I do not think I could have received a better art education from any other school. Thank you very much.
From Ravi Jackson:
I really can’t say enough about my time in the Kossak program. I don’t mean to sound hyperbolic, but it changed my life. I was at Hunter College (I believe) for one year before I took part in the Kossak Painting Fellowship. When I started in it, this program, in its current incarnation, had just begun, and its parameters at the time seemed fuzzy, limitless. It was very exciting. My next two semesters (ending with my graduation from Hunter) accounted for the one of the most productive and challenging parts of my art-life. To my mind, the structure of the fellowship almost speaks for itself: we had a successful artist visit and critique our work every week, for two entire semesters. I don’t know of any graduate art schools that have a visiting artist program as robust as that. It was (and is) a truly rare and fertile opportunity – not was there the chance for feedback from a really kind of consistently mind-blowing selection of artists, but we also had the sense of community and healthy competition that this activity engendered.
I had some real revelations during these critiques – often during the harshest ones. Gary Stephan’s diplomatic dismantling of my work is something I’ll never forget. It was a stinging critique, though it was kind, and it contributed to a change in the course of my art making at the time. There are other moments that I remember from those critiques, but this email is starting to get long. To make a long anecdote shorter: the Kossak Painting Fellowship is a gem of a program, completely unique among undergraduate art education. Furthermore, it was crucial in my own education as an artist.
After I graduated from Hunter I got into two of the best graduate art programs in the country – Yale and UCLA. I chose UCLA, where I’m at currently, and I don’t think I would have had that success if it weren’t for my time at Hunter and in the Kossak Fellowship.
From Zoe Rosenberg:
The Kossak Painting Fellowship was the centerpiece of my life for the two semesters that I was lucky enough to have been allowed to participate in it. Every day built up to Tuesday morning at 10 am when the crit would begin, and every Tuesday at noon, the process started all over again. A new artist to look forward to meeting, new paintings to make, new shows that you now absolutely had to see in order to be ready for those very special two hours. And what happened in those two hours made all of the preparation worth it. You would meet artists you loved and idolized, artists whose names you knew before even starting the Kossak program, artists whose work you hated passionately, artists who’s work you had seen in the MoMa or in Chelsea just days before you met them.
The Kossak program could be heartbreaking. Maybe one of your favorite contemporary painters is a guest speaker- someone who you consider an influence or an artistic forefather, and rips your work to shreds. Worse yet, they could pass your work by altogether. I remember when Rita Ackermann came to visit- I prepared by buying a heavy monograph of her paintings, listening to countless interviews and visiting her paintings on view at a Hauser and Wirth at the time. When it came time for her to look at my paintings, she proclaimed the paintings “dead”. It devastated me, and lit a fire in me that I am forever thankful for.
The Kossak painting fellowship forces you to be fully accountable to not only yourself but to the living working artists that you are aspiring to join the ranks of one day. They are perhaps your future co-workers. The culture of the Kossak painting fellowship might be summed up as follows: “Here are all of the resources you need to externalize what’s inside of you, uncompromised by economic restraints. Now don’t fuck it up.” Excuses are rendered meaningless on Tuesday morning- there is only you and a great contemporary painter, standing together and looking at your sincerest efforts up on a wall. Looking at yourself, yourself staring back at you- for young artists it is a chance to see what we are made of.
From Alvaro Barrington:
It would be far from an understatement to say that Kossak has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at Hunter. I was honored to have received the award three times and each semester looked forward to meeting painters who brought a new fresh eyes to looking at my paintings. Some of these painters were personal heroes while others I had never heard of. Each in their own way helped expand my ideas of paintings, creating new possibilities for me. Yet the most rewarding moments have happened outside of school, such as when I went to Yale and was greeted by Rachel Feinstein and Rob Storr, two Kossak visiting artists. I went to Chelsea on Rosh Hashanah and bumped into Kossak visiting artist Alexi Worth. Alexi recognized me and we spoke about the shows we had seen earlier that day and he recommended a few shows I should check out. I imagine that meetings like this will continue to happen as long as I am looking to be an artist. Thanks for incredible generosity.
From Will Wasserman:
I am a Spring of 2013 graduate from the BFA program and was a part of the Kossak Painting Fellowship for almost two years while at Hunter. The way I see it, my education, my artistic waking-up, breaks down cleanly into two parts. One was working for artists, which dispelled the Montmartre-style myths I had about studios and dealers—an awakening by ice bucket maybe. The other was the Kossak Painting Fellowship which gave me a sense of that possible world of thought I might be waking up into. Nothing I got from college do I cherish and recall as often as I do those visits from brilliant artists, painters, and critics that Drew brought to us at the impossible rate of one each week (I am so glad I took notes). Seen together these visits are a world of substance and potential and pure reality at the heart of art-making, one I hope to keep living in, in my own studio, as I make work.
Thank you Evelyn Kossak for this unique gift to the students of Hunter College. And thank you to all who organize it, support it, and keep it there.