Boris Oicherman, the Weisman’s new Cindy and Jay Ihlenfeld Curator for Creative Collaborations, is throwing tradition out the window. The position is the museum’s first endowed position, which means that it will be funded in perpetuity. Funds to endow the position were given by Cindy and Jay Ihlenfeld, both former employees of 3M corporation that is headquartered in Minnesota. While 3M may be best known for”Scotch tape,” today its biggest sales are business to business. 3M is known around the world for innovation and creativity.
Boris Oicherman is a practicing artist with a Ph.D. in color science and an extensive background in printing technologies, computer programming, and digital color imaging. He recently completed a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at Stanford University in California. Hired in July 2018, he has a big project ahead of him.
“I want to create an environment where you do not need to define your project,” Oicherman said. “You will need to define your ideas, your agenda, why you want to do this and what direction you want to go, but you’ll be absolutely free to develop it over a year at least, and after that year, we’ll see what happens.” His job is basically to engage professors from diverse disciplines with artists in a collaborative process.
“When you think about a university, you think about education and what education can be, and the role the museum can have on that education, in changing it and making it better,” Oicherman said.
Oicherman challenged the current role of the museum and its potential by asking over-arching questions like, “Why have a museum at a university?”
“Art, I believe today, is a totally unique thing that can be absolutely anything. There’s not a thing that you point a figure on and say ‘hey, this cannot be art,’” Oicherman explained. “That gives amazing freedom to artists.”
Oicherman aims to manifest this freedom by organizing strategic interactions among different fields of knowledge within the University of Minnesota. Artists will interact with biologists, neuroscientists, engineers, designers—the possibilities are endless.
Over the course of a year, Oicherman will budget and plan for the space to become a center point for creative collaboration and will begin the project’s implementation mid-June 2018. Rather than an application that is proposal and submission based, Oicherman prefers to hold open office-hours where he hopes conversations, ideas, and relationships may be developed.
“I’m looking for artists that are interested in very open-ended projects, that are interested in working with other people and that have crazy ideas because this is what the whole place is about,” Oicherman said. “The crazier the better.”