Jonathan Fineberg, the UI’s Gutgsell Professor of Art History and director of the Illinois at the Phillips program, was tapped for a rare opportunity at this year’s annual meeting of the College Art Association in Dallas earlier this semester: serving as Yoko Ono’s public inquisitor.
Fineberg’s interview with the 75-year-old conceptual and performance artist, who was married to Beatle John Lennon, took place as part of an annual tradition of the art association. Each year, a celebrated major artist is invited to appear at the meeting and participate in a public interview conducted by the interviewer of his or her choice.
“It was an afternoon I’ll never forget,” said Fineberg, who said he was surprised that Ono had drafted him for the assignment. “I was a member of the CAA committee that gave her an award for ‘a distinguished body of work,’ so she associated me with CAA from that. She also said she had heard of me, though I’m not sure how – possibly she had seen something I wrote.”
After showing the audience a short DVD with home movies her mother had made of her as a child – with live narration – Ono responded to Fineberg’s questions about the films, her dual career as visual artist and musician, and how her childhood experience influenced her work.