During the summer of 2016, the New American Paintings, No. 124, “The South,” featured Peter Cotroneo’s work as the editor’s pick.
“My most recent work is minimal in both color and depiction of this subject matter and tied up in painterly romanticism while trying to eschew all of it,” says Cotroneo, a recent MFA graduate and the 2016 visiting director of foundations at UT. “When I first got serious about painting I was also getting really into professional wrestling. I saw painting as a space to fill and fill and fill some more so it wouldn’t sit nicely on the wall, but come out and pile drive you.”
Cotroneo credits the School of Art’s MFA program with helping him learn who he is as an artist and maintain a core set of artistic values.
“I think UT put forward a much more generative space of thought,” says Cotroneo. “It wasn’t a process of breaking down as much as it was building up until the pile toppled over. What remained upright was a core set of values that had been put in place maybe earlier on, maybe not, but certainly solidified during my time at UT.”
Thanks to the Artist-in-Residence program, Cotroneo had the opportunity to connect with fellow artists over developing a studio practice and studying art instead of merely satisfying degree requirements in order to graduate.
“By having an ever-changing influx of ideas and interests, a richer and deeper exploration into art and why we do things is fostered,” says Cotroneo. “I think I adapted my working methodologies and interests to where the artists in residence were in their own practices for better or for worse. But that adaption and chance, self-imposed as it was, helped to further my own construction of an artistic identity in my work and in my studio.”
Cotroneo’s solo work during 2016 included CRAMP and Expo 69 at the Ewing Gallery in Knoxville; Always Already Here Vol. 2, curated by Joshua Bienko at Gallery Protocol in Gainesville, Florida; Contemporary South at the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, North Carolina; and finally, Cotroneo’s work was featured in the Orange 4 exhibit at The Fridge in Washington, DC.
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