MCLA Gallery 51 to merge performances with art


Beginning Thursday, Feb. 26, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Gallery 51 presents "Locus," an exhibition of contemporary video art, painting, drawing, photography and performance.

Curated by Lauren Wolk of North Adams, "Locus" features art made by emerging and established American artists whose work explores the human body as experience.

The opening reception for this exhibition, on Thursday, Feb. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m., will include a dance performance.  The event is free and open to the public.

Works included in this exhibition use the human body as a means to explore myriad aspects of experience: utopianism, memory, race, language, gender, and trauma, to name a few. The show features five visual artists, as well as eight dance artists in performances at the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition.

"The artworks in 'Locus' explore how contemporary experiences are registered in the human body," Wolk said. "Within the scope of the show, the self is really posited as the site where public meets private. In disparate ways, the works are interested in parsing the implications of that intersection."

Catherine Czacki investigates memory, time travel, and language through video, painting, and the strategic addition of other discreet objects. Her work challenges our reliance on symbols and asks us to understand the body and its perceptual potential in a new way.

Felicia Garcia-Rivera and Liz Laser contribute a collaborative photograph, and a video work that investigates masculinity, as a group of motorcycle riders are choreographed by a disembodied voice.

Liz Laser's video works and photographs feature bodies that range from frenzied and pained, to awkward and obedient. Viewers form an intimate voyeuristic relationship with Laser when watching "Lost It," in which she cradles a baby made of ice that melts in her arms over four hours of footage.

Simone Leigh is a sculptor who contributes video work to "Locus." Her work has been termed "Afro-futurist" and explores the formal relationship between body, material, technology, and history. Leigh short-circuits footage of the "Star Trek" character Uhura in her video work, leaving viewers to wrestle with the repeated stutter and twitch of Uhura's gestures.

In painting, drawing, and collage, Sarah Olson combines organic forms - distended and distorted tree limbs, bellies, feet and genitalia. She contributes extant pieces to the show, and her performance-based collaboration with the Wendy Osserman Dance Company at the opening will yield its own work, as the gallery space is transformed into both studio and stage.

Performance Schedule & Roster:

Performance at the opening
5-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26:
The Wendy Osserman Dance Company was founded in 1976 in New York City and has been collaborating with painter Sarah Olson for the past several years. At the opening of "Locus," Osserman and two company dancers, Cori Kresge and Emily Quant, will enter into a feedback loop of creativity with Olson, creating performance-based work that explores the cross-pollination of dance and visual art.

Open Rehearsal
7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28:
Creatures of Habitat (COH ensemble),  an experimental physical-poetry ensemble based in Massachusetts directed by dance artist Stefanie Weber will hold an OPEN REHEARSAL in conjunction with Locus. Audience members are invited to participate in the process of developing COH's newest series, "habitat (de)fragmentation," by bringing in a battery (or solar) powered light of any kind. The dancers/performers in this evening's rehearsal include Kalei Carlson, Kat Gurley, Isabelle Holmes and Stefanie Weber.

7 p.m., Thursday, March 5:
Modern dancers Marta Miller and Aislinn MacMaster have been collaborating for over a decade. Based in New Jersey and Connecticut, respectively, Miller and MacMaster spend much of their summers creating work in their studio in Stamford, Vermont. Their performance for "Locus" will center on their improvisational response to the art works in the exhibition. 

"Locus" runs through March 22. MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams and is open daily from to   For more information, call 413-664-8718, or go to Gallery51 .