Dorit Cypis

Dorit Cypis

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

Otis College of Art and Design

Dorit Cypis was born in Israel, immigrated to Canada as a child and to the United States as a young adult. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Cypis is a visual artist as well as an innovative professional mediator. She has moved fluidly between studio practice, educator, mediator, and community builder since the 1980s. Her strategies of performance, photography, text, immersive installation, and social sculpture explore relationships between psychological and social/political aspects of history, knowledge, and experience. Her practice as a conflict mediator extends her exploration of human relations into the public domain.

Cypis has exhibited internationally including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, International Center of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Musee d’Art Contemporain/Montreal, Musee des Beaux Arts/Bruxelles, Walker Art Center, and locally at the Hammer Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bank Art, Las Cienegas Projects, Tom Jancar, RedCat, Greene Exhibitions, Hinge Modern, and LM Projects.

Cypis reshaped Foundation for Art Resources (Los Angeles, 1979–1982) to model partnership between artists and public sites, inspiring interaction and discourse; founded Kulture Klub Collaborative (Minneapolis, 1992– ), bridging survival and inspiration by partnering artists and homeless youth to build their self knowledge and expression; founded Foreign Exchanges (2007), bridging aesthetics and mediation to innovate engagement and conflict transformation capacity across personal and cultural differences. Cypis is a founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders International.

Cypis has taught classes on identity and social relations across the U.S., Canada, Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Israel. She has been honoured with awards, including from the Japan , Bush, McKnight, Jerome, Ordway, and Durfee foundations, City of Los Angeles Cultural Arts, Fellows of Contemporary Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She earned bachelor degrees in fine art and education from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, a Master of Fine Art degree from the California Institute of the Arts, and a Master of Dispute Resolution degree (MDR) from Pepperdine University.

Artist’s Statement

For over thirty years I have explored the psychological, physical, and political dimensions of identity, history, and knowledge using formal strategies of performance, photography, text, video, immersive installation, and social practice. My earlier focus centered on subjectivity as experienced through the psychophysical body—interior and visceral. This lead to explorations of subjectivity as interdependent with complex cultural and personal differences of others and identity as intertwined with ethics. In more recent work I have questioned the dialectical relationship between the individual and the social collective, mining media reports of political events, personal family objects as portals into political histories, and performative street actions.

Delving into relations between art, ethics, and the social every day brought me to study conflict resolution. The social engagement and mediation skills I learned have deeply informed my practice as an artist committed to realizing new ways to integrate aesthetics and social practice. I believe the artist’s role is self-expression and engagement in critical social issues that affect our communities. Through my personal art practice I have gathered tremendous insight into the capacity for people to internalize histories both psychological and political. The social application of my practice has taught me about the effects of internalization on our social engagements, where misunderstanding one’s needs and the difference of others is the root of conflict. My practice has been a circuitous path between the studio and the street.

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