Past Exhibitions > The Muse was Life; the Medium Was Film

The Fordham University Visual Arts Program would like to announce this memorial exhibition, The Muse was Life; the Medium Was Film: Films by our charming resident contrarian Ross McLaren and his students in our Lincoln Center Visual Arts Complex Susan Lipani gallery.

Ross McLaren died in November of 2023, days short of his 70th birthday, after suffering a stroke earlier in the summer. Ross was a Canadian-born filmmaker, curator, colleague, teacher, and mentor living in New York who taught at Fordham University since 1986. This memorial exhibition highlights Ross' dedication to the film medium and his influence on generations of Fordham University film & video students.

We miss his presence and take solace in the many memories he leaves behind. If Ross were here today, he would be holding court, telling stories, quick to share a toast, and likely one of the last to leave. There was only one Ross, unique as each of his films. In life, there is an endless continuation of frames; we thank Ross for sharing the ones he pulled from it.

Three monitors in the gallery space present Ross' work. On monitor #1 is his infamous 1977 (27.75 min) film Crash 'n' Burn, shot on 16mm black & white film with an overdubbed soundtrack, documenting the Toronto, Ontario, Canada punk rock scene. On monitor #2 is Sex Without Glasses,1983, (12.75 min), a color, 16 mm film "starring a preverbal somnambulist floating between word and object." –RM. And on monitor #3 is a selection of films that Ross admired from other filmmakers, including a range from Chris Marker's La Jetée to cartoons about Porky the Pig.

Monitors #4 and #5 display nine short works (eight by Ross' students over the years, one by a colleague): Spencer Balter, 5 am Thoughts at 3 in the Afternoon; Masha Bychkova, Gag; Alex Chambers, Cameraless Animations; Matt Gioia, Quick Sand; Liam Kenny, Joy, and Love for All Things in the Garden; Luke Momo, The Stamp Collector; Booch O’Connell, Affirmations; Glen Redpath (friend), Ross’s Rooftop Garden; Koty Vooys, Leaving NYC.

Fully circling the gallery and connecting Ross with his students are his used Super-8 film cartridges, a further reminder of Ross' continued love of the film medium since the early days when he founded and was the first director of the Funnel Film Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

A memorial event in the Susan Lipani Gallery will occur on Friday, February 16, at 6 pm.

The Visual Arts Program would like to thank the Filmmakers' Coop, who provided the 16mm print of Crash 'n' Burn and a digitized version of Sex Without Glasses, and special thanks to FCLC Dean Auricchio and FAS Dean Hume for funding the memorial event.

Stephan Apicella-Hitchcock and Joseph Lawton arranged this memorial with the assistance of Gallery Programmer Vincent Stracquadanio. Anibal Pella-Woo and Stephan Apicella-Hitchcock oversaw digitizing Crash 'n' Burn. Student films were collected and organized by Slav Velkov, Colin Cathcart, Eamon Redpath, and Glen Redpath, who assembled the list of Ross’ favorite movies, and Wilson Duggan installed the exhibition.