Meet Casey Jenkins, Master of Contemporary Art student

First year Master of Contemporary Art student Casey Jenkins is settling back into university study after spending a lot of time in small but active community art groups. Encouraged and inspired by other students and staff, Casey talks to us about collaborating and creating networks at the Victorian College of the Arts.

I’m only in my first year, but so far my course has made me reflect a lot on my own art practice and put it into the context of my local contemporaries. The type of art that usually resonates with me tends to be work that has a strong conceptual element and a pared-back execution. I prefer haikus to tomes.

I didn’t take the usual path to becoming an artist and have been outside of the local art scene. I came to VCA seeking an art community and a pathway towards making my vocation financially viable. I haven’t spent much time in institutions – either studying or working – but have rather gathered community art-making groups around me, creating craft actions, street art gangs, public art events and staging my own exhibitions.

This has been one of the challenges of studying at the VCA – I’d actually thought of myself as being allergic to institutions and I was nervous about coming back to study. So far I’ve been encouraged to find that, although it’s quite a formidable establishment, it’s populated by creative, flexible and giving individuals.

There are a lot of things I enjoy about studying here. The facilities here are schmick, the lecturers are accessible and generous with their time, and the work the other students are doing is exciting. Seeing the high standard of work already being produced by the other students in my class has been wonderful. I also get the sense that input and feedback from students to the lecturers is respected here.

Casey Jenkins. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

I’m inspired by people who take initiative and who are able to keep a steady moral compass in stormy social seas.

I’d like to collaborate more in my arts practice. In April this year, I contributed work to a group exhibition called Queer Threads, curated by Dr Kate Just along with other students at VCA. We were working with textiles and it was exciting to see the varied approaches to textile work of people in such a similar position to me.

My goals for the next few years are to create strong work, position it effectively, expand my practice by exploring new paths and to find new opportunities to present it. I hope that my VCA experience will help me create strong networks with other artists and within the Melbourne art world, provide critical feedback for my own practice, and give me the time and facilities to experiment.

My best piece of advice for future Contemporary Art students? Embrace obsessiveness.

When I need to relax or disengage I nap, I swim, I get involved in hairbrained activism projects and lately I stare at my bellybutton – more entertaining than usual because I’m growing a human.

As told to Kelly Southworth.

Banner image: Casey Jenkins. Photo by Giulia McGauran.


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