'Inside the Outside' to Open at MCLA Gallery 51


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - On Thursday, Feb 27, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Gallery 51 will present, "Inside the Outside: Reconsidering Our Views about Art." The exhibition, on display from Feb. 27 to March 23, will feature a variety of outsider and self-taught art, as well as contributions from professionally trained artists and teachers.

An opening reception for this exhibit, sponsored by MCLA's Department of Fine and Performing Arts and organized by students in the fall 2013 "Museum Studies" class, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 27, 5-7 p.m., in MCLA Gallery 51. The event is free and open to the public.

Self-taught and outsider artists are considered to be outside the typical artist spectrum; this includes, but is not limited to people living in isolated or marginalized communities, artists with mental or physical disabilities and those who are not influenced by much, if anything, in the established art world, according to Tony Gengarelly, Ph.D., professor emeritus of art history and museum studies at MCLA.

The work of artists and teachers Renee Bouchard and Ilene Spiewak will be displayed with selected artworks by students from the Lee Massachusetts College Internship Program, alongside other art by self-taught artists from the private collection of Jamie Franklin and Renee Bouchard.

 "The art on display is intended to spark conversation about the conditions under which art is made and the circumstances that determine its appreciation," said Gengarelly, the project director of the exhibition.

The show also features the work of outsider artists Jessica Park and Michael McManmon. A new art biography written by Gengarelly, "A World Transformed: The Art of Jessica Park," will be introduced at the Feb. 27 opening reception. Park will be present to sign copies of books that are purchased that evening.

On March 18 and 20, two other events - both of which are free and open to the public - will be held in association with this show in MCLA Gallery 51.

On Tuesday, March 18, from 5 to 7 p.m., MCLA Gallery 51 will host an evening discussion, "Art and Biography."

"Art and Biography" will feature Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum. Franklin's interest in outsider art started as a teenager, and has evolved as he grew into adulthood and became a collector. With his marriage to Bouchard, his interest in outsider art deepened.

Along with his expertise in self-taught art and Modernism, Franklin brings a unique perspective on the role of biography in the appreciation of art, Gengarelly said.

On Thursday March 20, 5-7 p.m., MCLA's Gallery 51 will host a second evening discussion, "Art Education and the Education of the Artist," featuring art therapist, teacher and artist Ilene Spiewak. This one-night event will include both a discussion and question and answer session on topics related to formal art education and the self-trained artist.

An artist and educator, Spiewak has used art as a tool for healing. She is a teacher for the College Internship Program for students with Asperger's Syndrome.

"My goal in teaching young adults includes providing ways to nurture individual creativity and experimentation with various art mediums, which can offer a sense of accomplishment and improve one's psychological health," she said. Working with the Good Purpose Gallery, Spiewak has displayed her students' work alongside her own art. 

MCLA Gallery 51, at 51 Main St. in North Adams, will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored by the Good Purpose Gallery, the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the MCLA Fine and Performing Arts Department, the Jessica Park Project at MCLA and MCLA Gallery 51.

For more information about the exhibition or any of the participating art galleries, go to or call (413) 664- 8718.