Artists, partners and SVA alumni Delano Dunn (MFA 2016 Fine Arts) and Anna Ogier-Bloomer (MPS 2017 Digital Photography) moved their family to Chicago from New York City in December 2018, when Dunn was selected as a teaching fellow at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Today, both of them are back in the Windy City. For a time, Ogier-Bloomer was SAIC’s director of curriculum analysis and planning. As of the fall 2020 semester, she has been working remotely as executive director of career services at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.
Dunn has been gaining increasing attention for his collages, which often incorporate historical images, bright colors, bold lines and household materials such as shoe polish and varnish, and deal with personal biography, popular culture and the legacy of racism in America. In 2019, The New York Times named him one of four artists to watch and he became even more in demand. Actor and singer Leslie Odom, Jr., commissioned Dunn to create original art for his album Mr; and PBS NewsHour featured him in their “Brief but Spectacular” series, where he discussed creating work with his daughter, Violet, in mind.
“It’s a rough world out there, particularly for women and particularly for women of color,” Dunn says in the video. “I make sure I have images of women in the work and that these women are not seen through the male gaze and they are depicted in positions of power and strength.”
In September, Dunn was one of 18 Black and BIPOC artists selected by the United States Tennis Association to create art for “Black Lives to the Front,” an installation that occupied the front-row seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the spectator-less 2020 U.S. Open. (Fellow alumnus and BFA Fine Arts faculty member Sophia Dawson also contributed to the project.) Currently, his work is on view in the Columbia University Wallach Art Gallery’s “Uptown Triennial,” which celebrates the Harlem Renaissance in its centennial year.
In addition to his SAIC fellowship, earlier this year, Dunn was a resident at the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, where he completed two visually different series of collage works: “Rue” explores the Black culinary traditions within Dunn’s own family and the struggle to preserve Black domestic histories, while “Paradise” explores love, infatuation, fear and stereotypes through a more minimalist paper collage, due to Dunn’s limited resources while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both are on view online, accompanied by a Q&A with Dunn about his art and practice.
Ogier-Bloomer, who previously taught at SVA and served as an assistant director of SVA Career Development, has had a busy year as well. Her photography work, centered on documentary-style portraits of her immediate and extended family, illustrates the tension between the expectations and realities of domestic life. In August, she was an artist-in-residence at a physical and virtual gallery space in Paris, Tennessee, called Stay Home Gallery + Residency, where she was “able to reflect, search and make pictures, too,” after several hard months due to the pandemic. Her work was in an exhibition there, “Everything Is Different Now,” which can still be viewed online. She also contributed to a book, Career Management for Artists by Stacy Miller, EdD, published by Routledge in May 2020.
Right now, both Dunn and Ogier-Bloomer are focused on giving back. This fall, they each sold art prints supporting communities in need—proceeds from Dunn’s sales supported WeTheProtestors’ Campaign Zero, a project that calls on local, state and federal lawmakers to end police violence and hold police accountable. Ogier-Bloomer’s sales helped In Defense of Girlhood, a free doll therapy program for Black girls in Los Angeles who are experiencing poverty or homelessness.
In addition to her new position at Otis, beginning next year Ogier-Bloomer will be the new co-chair of the College Art Association’s (CAA) Services to Artist Committee (with Jacquelyn Strycker, a staff and faculty member in SVA MFA Art Practice). She will lead several free, public events at the virtual CAA Conference in February 2021, including a workshop, Redefining Success As An Artist. (While at SAIC, Ogier-Bloomer created and taught a course with the same name.)
“The idea is to educate students on the economic realities of living as artists, and to help them visualize and work toward the unique creative life that makes them happy,” she says. Find the whole CAA Conference schedule and sign up for events here.
A version of this article appears in the spring/summer 2020 edition of the Visual Arts Journal.