'Close Encounters' at MCLA Gallery 51


NORTH ADAMS, MA-Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Gallery 51 announces the opening of "Close Encounters" on Thursday, March 31. The exhibit, which runs through April 24, will feature mixed media artwork including photography, painting, sculpture and video, with each piece exploring how people interact with each other and the world around them through emotional, physical or even spiritual means.  

"Close Encounters" includes the work of 30 regional and national artists, who will address topics such as anxiety, comfort, bliss, the power of relationships, solitude and sensory engagement. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 31, 5-7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. 

 The exhibit is curated by MCLA's museum studies class, part of the College's arts management program. The students are responsible for every aspect of the show, including the theme, writing the call for entries, producing marketing materials and programming events.  

With guidance from arts management professor Lauren O'Neal and MCLA alumna Caitlin Healey, the students have worked on the show since the beginning of the semester, and have spent many hours outside of class in preparation.  

Arts management student Craig Perras '11 said, "Working with other people in the class who have similar interests, yet very different opinions, created a dynamic experience and a truly unique exhibition." 

The response to the call for entries was strong, and student curators had to choose work from approximately 300 pieces to create a diverse, yet cohesive, exhibit. In addition to Perras, the student curatorial team includes Jamal Ahamad '11, Mike Barry '11, Brittany Brouker '12, Pam Buchanan '11, Lily Cardaropoli '11, Bob Fogwell '11, Signe Kutzer '12, Ashley Mason '12, Mike Martin '11, Sam Naring '12, Laura Pettengill '13, Fiona Slattery '11, Kira Smith '11, Lauren Sottile '12, Nora Weiss '12 and Rachel Wright '11. 

"Working closely with my professors, peers, and members of the gallery is a close encounter. Both the nature of humanity and the bonds we form among one another are going to be displayed within Gallery 51, interpreted in so many different ways for people to see. The process of curating is itself a performance piece," Brouker said. 

Ahamad explained, "I'm looking forward to interacting with the audience and creating conversation about the show and the artwork, because building a community-that's where art lives." 

"Close Encounters" features artists from all over the country; from as close as the Berkshires, to as far away as California. The Massachusetts-based artists include Nick Atlas (Becket), Ashley Billingsley (Boston), Russell DuPont (Whitman), Andrea Evens (Jamaica Plain), Jim Jeffers (Lowell), Angela Mark (Jamaica Plain), Melody Mason (West Stockbridge), and Eric Zamuco (Quincy). 

Additional participating artists include: Bobby Neel Adams (Ridgewood, N.Y.), Hilary Ciment (San Francisco, Calif.), Christine Dehne (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Joelle Francht (New Hope, Pa.), K.A. "Von" Hasenbalg, Megan Hildebrandt (Tampa, Fla.), Rachel Hines (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Rachel Katz (Portland, Maine), Anni Lorenzini (Chazy, N.Y.), George Lorio (Brownsville, Texas), MaryKate Maher (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Ann Mansolino (Whittier, Calif.), Nate Matthews (Bartlett, Ill.), Coco Papy (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Kelly Oliver and Keary Rosen (Raritan, N.J.), Christopher Quirk (Brooklyn/Hudson, N.Y.), Cameron Schmitz (Vergennes, Vt.), Aiden Simon (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Abigail Stiers (Hallowell, Maine), and Jing Zhou (Ocean, N.J.). 

 "I'm excited to create a close encounter for the audience.  I can't wait to see if they'll see what we all saw-all these wonderfully talented artists that we've discovered as a class," Buchanan said. 

Additional events will take place as part of the exhibit, including yoga sessions and discussions. 

MCLA Gallery 51, a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Gallery at 413-664-8718, or go to gallery51