A familiar face to the North Adams arts scene since 2005 through her many performances with MCLA Presents! and DownStreet Art, as well as her participation in area arts residencies, workshops and exhibitions, and also through her work as a visiting artist teaching MCLA students, C. Ryder Cooley's latest role is that of "gallery manager."
An interdisciplinary artist, musician and performer for more than 20 years, Cooley has begun her new work as the manager of MCLA Gallery 51.
"This community has always felt like second home to me and I'm very excited to become more involved," Cooley said. "I feel like I already belong here. As an artist, I'm excited to set up my very own 'Greylockian' studio and become more of a member of this inspiring community of creative makers, workers and thinkers."
"It is great to have Ryder on board," said Jonathan Secor, MCLA's director of special programs. "We have had the pleasure of working with her as an artist for many years in the galleries, on the stage and in the classrooms. Now, we have the honor of having her on staff. Her creative lens is a great addition to the work that we do at MCLA Gallery 51."
Cooley looks forward to becoming more involved with MCLA's students.
"Gallery 51 is special. Because it's part of MCLA, it's a teaching gallery, which I love. I really admire the MCLA arts management program," she said.
Over the years, Cooley has worked in the non-profit arts sector in many capacities, from curating community exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library to teaching youth programs at Time and Space Limited in Hudson, N.Y.
As an artist, her work has been presented across the country, including in galleries from New York City to San Francisco, Calif. She also completed public art projects in Indonesia, El Salvador, France and the Czech Republic.
Her vision for MCLA Gallery 51 includes bringing to the space an eclectic mix of work by national and international artists.
"I'll also be drawing from the pool of artists that I know the Hudson Valley, New York Capital District, San Francisco Bay Area and New York/Brooklyn areas. I hope to have some shows that will respond to themes of ecology, identity/queerness, as well as performance/installation documentation, artifacts and residue," Cooley said. "I think it's important to get as many different people represented by the Gallery as possible. I'd like to show work that pushes the edge for both the students and the community."
Cooley's first show will be the upcoming "100 Hours in the Woodshed IV," MCLA Gallery 51's collage biennial, which she will co-curate with Susan Cross, curator at MASS MoCA. This event will return to galleries in downtown North Adams on Thursday, Jan. 24. The exhibition that will result from their work will open on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
A "meet the artists" event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24, 5-7 p.m., in MCLA Gallery 51. The Woodshed exhibition will open on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
All Woodshed events are free and open to the public.
Cooley received a BFA from theRhode Island School of Design in sculpture, and an MFA in integrated electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In early 1993, she moved to San Francisco, Calif., where she was an active member of the local art and music scenes. A resident of Hudson, N.Y., Cooley soon will relocate to North Adams.
"100 Hours in the Woodshed IV" runs through Feb. 24. MCLA Gallery 51 is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. It is at 51 Main St., and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/Gallery51 .