'What's Your Mantra' PRESS Gallery's June Downstreet Art Exhibition


North Adams, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) has announced a new exhibition, "What's Your Mantra," by artist Alke Groppel-Wegener, will open on Thursday, June 26, as part of this year's DownStreet Art kick-off celebration, in the PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project Gallery, 49 Main St.

The public is invited to an opening reception on Thursday, 6-9 p.m., in PRESS Gallery. This event is free and refreshments will be served.

Groppel-Wegener is a visiting scholar from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom. She served as an artist-in-residence at MCLA with support from the Hardman Family Foundation.  Her residencies, which took place in January and May, followed work with PRESS Gallery Chief Melanie Mowinski, an assistant professor of art at MCLA, when they were co-presenters at the Design Principles and Practices Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia on "Academic Mantras."

In January, they decided to utilize PRESS as an incubator for additional mantras through the creation of an interactive station where people could contribute their own mantras. When Groppel-Wegener returned in May, she examined those mantras and utilized some in her prints and process.

This project continues to be a collaborative effort between Groppel-Wegener, PRESS and the public.

The interactive portion of the exhibition will be a featured part of the opening. Groppel-Wegener explained, "It is no wonder that I consider words my primary medium - it is not just something I collect: as an academic writing professor, it is also what I teach."

Through this project, Groppel-Wegener explored how much the mantras we find for ourselves build the identities of students, faculty, and artists.

"While writing, collecting and setting these mantras, I was prompted to ask myself, am I just a teacher? Or am I really a writer or researcher, a designer or artist? "Groppel-Wegener said. "Based on the fingerprint that I had scanned as proof of my identity on my travels to come here, I have been visually exploring how these aspects of me are different, and how they overlap and support each other."

At the DownStreet Art kick-off on June 26, and throughout the run of the exhibit, visitors will be invited to transform one of the fingerprints using rubber stamps and other materials.

The center of the gallery features a column of academic mantra cards suspended from wire that were created by Groppel-Wegener, Mowinski, and Lisa Donovan, professor of arts management at MCLA.

Mowinski explained, "Everything you see here happened because of a conversation. These academic mantra cards evolved out of our desire to become better teachers, better artists, better whatever, just better."

The cards contain phrases like "Make every student your favorite," and "Practice takes practice." Visitors to PRESS are asked to contribute their own mantras as reactions to the exhibition. These mantras will become part of a book that Groppel-Wegener and Mowinski will make together.

"What's Your Mantra" will be on view at PRESS from June 26 through July 27 as a part of DownStreet Art 2014. For more information, contact Mowinski, 413-281-8108 or, or go to .

Upcoming PRESS exhibitions will include "Nature as Medicine, Nature as Companion" on July 31, featuring the work of Jae Ok Lee and Erika Radich. Through their work, these two artists examine the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.

On Aug. 28, "Double Bubble Print Portfolio" will open at PRESS. This exhibition will feature prints by 18 artists within a 40-mile radius of Troy, N.Y., and a 40-mile radius of Bennington, Vt., that reflect the theme: Double Bubble.

The final show of the summer season will open on Sept. 25. "Paper Dresses" will examine the tension between freedom and confinement. The artists are prompted to create dresses, some to be worn, some to admire, all made with paper and typography. The dresses will inspire and star in a performance piece.

An initiative of MCLA's BCRC, DownStreet Art is a public art project designed to revitalize downtown North Adams. By harnessing existing art organizations and events and transforming vacant and open spaces into art destinations, DownStreet Art defines North Adams as a cultural haven, driving tourists and community members.

For more information about DownStreet Art events and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, go to and bcrc .

PRESS: LetterPRESS as a Public Art Project is located at 49 Main St. We are a hybrid public art space as a gallery, studio and teaching lab. PRESS is open most days from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Learn more about the project at or follow us on Facebook at Email us at to schedule a visit, find out more information or find out when our next workshop will be!