Beyond Expectations


This work by William Britt is among those exhibited in "Visions from the Edge."

Eight students in Dr. Anthony Gengarelly's "Museum Studies" class discovered first hand what it's like to be a professional in the world of visual arts as they brought an exhibition of "Outsider Art" to the community.

"Visions from the Edge: The Artists of Pure Vision" runs through Feb. 19 in MCLA Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams.

"The students really stepped up and went above and beyond. They really owned the show," Gengarelly said. "They're really proud of it and have done a spectacular job."

The project began with visits to New York City to view "Outsider Art" at the Pure Vision Arts Gallery, which exhibits the work of individuals with developmental disorders, such as autism or Asperger syndrome.

The class actually ended in December, but the exhibit did not open until late January.

"It was a little tricky," Gengarelly admitted. But Brittany Boucker '12 of Lee, Mass., who served as the show's registrar, went on to take an independent study course from him this semester as the curator of the show.

"She went to New York City with the team from Gallery 51 to pick up the art. She got everything organized, identified and checked in. She's been extraordinary," Gengarelly said of Brouker.

"The trips to Pure Vision Arts in Manhattan were the most fulfilling in that they provided a platform for us, as students, to double as professionals," Brouker said. "We contributed to real negotiations, handled fine art and met real working artists and experts in the field of outsider art.

"The highlight of the course and exhibit has been learning about a world of art that I - and many others - knew little about," she continued. "I think Outsider Artists are often misunderstood or considered one-in-the-same. Really, these artists are all incredibly unique, inviting us into an imaginative world that transcends our realities and comforts."

Each student has a favorite "Pure Visions" artist, whose work they chose to include in the show.

"I chose all of Barry Kahn's artwork (shown, right) that would go into the exhibit," said Sam Naring '12 of Norwalk, Conn. "I liked his bold colors and how he integrated bodies and faces into geometric backgrounds."

Naring, Brouker and a few other students worked to get the show up last month.

"For those of us who elected to hang the show, we had the pleasure of seeing 'Visions from the Edge' come to life right in Gallery 51," Brouker said. "Perhaps most importantly, we learned how to effectively communicate as professionals in the art world."

Naring also created and managed a blog ( for the exhibit. It includes photos of works the 11 artists created for the show, as well as links to Web sites with more information about Outsider Art and artists.

"Beyond the colorful canvases lie unique and uninhibited stories, waiting to be told, and I think those who have visited the gallery have listened, learned and reflected. I've noticed with each program held for the public, the crowd has grown larger and larger. Perhaps the increase in attendance is a true indicator that this community is curious about the show and eager to learn more about Outsider Art."

For more information, go to Gallery51.