This body of work by Ross is a representation of his continued search to bring the world, as he sees it, to life. Self-identified as a photographer, Ross reveals his talent for using pencil and exploring the palette beyond imagination.
Come inside is an invitation for viewers to participate in Ross’s journey through the works. It invites us to be present as we navigate through images which are intentionally disorienting, necessarily so, to more fully experience his perspective. Ross’s works can be viewed as an exercise in finding comfort within the discomfort, as well as being unclear about the orientation of the work and the viewer’s relationship to it. For Ross, drawing is a type of performance, similar to what a painter may experience as the brush touches the canvas. The dozen large- and small-scale colored pencil drawings are meticulous, precise, and abstract, but still represent what is organic.
Ross also questions weight and opacity, central components of his practice. In these works, he creates a place to better discuss Blackness or Darkness, history, space and contexts, versus the conventional ways and spaces. These works are environments with figures, in which the viewer has to question their gaze. Ross has searched for what he wants to see in what he sees. Instead of looking head-on at what is in his range of vision, he looks to the sides and the corners, searching for what is not in view. Ross proposes we de-center our view and step inside his spaces to see what he sees.
Influenced by the likes of Faith Ringgold, David Hammons, Charles White, Kerry James Marshall, and many others, Ross pursues an inquiry into their work and use of materials. He challenges the capacity of the pencil to explore Blackness. Figures are created in Ross’s own design and space. He also creates the feeling of movement throughout the works, a reference to a dependency which Ross creates between the materials, his labor, the scale, their presence in space, and his intention for the work. He strives to defy notions of what drawings can be, and should do, as works of art. Neither sketches nor studies, these are final works, and a testament to the power of Ross’ ability to work in this medium.
The details in the works are powerful and significant, nothing is random or insignificant. The work focuses on the interaction between color and light. This intersection, or perhaps conflict, is where the photographer is conversing with the draftsman. It challenges convention, and in the process, Ross designs a world of spaces and figures that do not have to subscribe to the rules of reality or perspective. Ross’ original forms, spaces and contexts, tempt the viewer into exploring, experiencing, questioning, and then applying that to their own perspective on life. The work articulates for Ross what he sees, and we may never see, unless the viewer gazes upon his work and chooses to come inside.
Come inside culminates Ross’s work completed as an MCLA ART LABORATORY Resident in Fall 2021.
About This Exhibit
This current series of colored pencil drawings reflexively attend to the material dimension of their making to exhaust the idea of slow accumulation; a primary point of interest is the layer-by-layer composition of the image. How can a picture be sensual and draw on pleasure? What is the value of opacity? Each of these questions served to guide the process of making these drawings. Looking and being seen as points of visibility are definite modalities that inform the composition, the crops, and the angles appearing in the works, hopefully, to incite a performance and participation with the viewer. Leaning into unsteady concepts such as desire, consciousness, presence, interiority, and the ongoing shifting relationships within identity itself become the basis from which these works develop and stem.
Questions to Consider
1. How does this exhibit challenge your expectations of size and space?
2. What is the value of opacity and how does it change the feeling of the piece?
3. How can a picture be sensual and draw on pleasure?
4. What is Ross sharing through his art that we might not be able to see at a first glance?
5. What questions do you have about the works or the exhibit as a whole?
We invite you to sketch or draw your own ideas of this series! Post your art or your thoughts on the exhibit to Instagram and tag us at @gallery_51
See the whole gallery guide HERE.
Originally scheduled for September 2020, and postponed as a result of COVID-19, Hostile Terrain opened July 2021.
MCLA students and faculty, in partnership with Gallery 51, are honored to partake in this participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective. The G51 Hostile Terrain exhibition is composed of ~3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019 as well as the work of three west coast artists who were invited to broaden the many-sided conversation, representation and understanding of immigration to the US.
View the Hostile Terrain Gallery Guide HERE.
This show was created by the young adults of the Arts in Recovery for Youth program to promote social justice and open community conversations. Through digital art, poetry and painting, the artists have chosen to express themes of racial injustice and political oppression, violence against women, bullying, rights of LGBTQIA+ persons, freedom of gender expression, body image and gender equality. The young adults showcase their art alongside the art of five mentoring social activists in the art world.
The AIRY young adult artists are Rachael Bentz, Kiara Bresett, Molly Harrington, Jack Kelly, and Jalencia Melendez. The mentoring guest artists are Katy Holt, Em Reim Ifrach, Caroline Kelley, Pops Peterson, and Marney Schorr.
Funding for the Art for Social Justice project was provided by New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Blindsight 2021 is MCLA's Senior Art Show. Each artist’s individual work encompasses a multitude of themes and mediums. Themes address a gamut of social issues and misconceptions, from mental illness, gender equality, race, and our impact on the environment. The artists’ chosen media platforms deal with comics, digital art, painting, sculpture, and performance art to deliver their message. The artists connect back to each other by revealing through their art social issues humanity has been blind to in the past but must see now for a brighter future. This is personified by the title ‘#Blindsight2021’.
Gallery 51 hosted Alex Younger's virtual show Trauma and Mending. Alex Younger is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in Oakland, California and raised in the Capital District of New York State. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Swarthmore College in 2012 with an Honors Major in English Literature and a Course Major/Honors Minor in Studio Art. She became a sexual assault activist in 2015, after the college adjudication of her case resulted in a punishment of 10 days of probation. In 2018, she received her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a Gold Złoty Medal Laureate from the 16 th International Tapestry Triennial and a Silver Medal winner from the 13 th International Scythia Biennial. Her work has been shown internationally and across the United States, including Chicago, New York City, St Louis, Portugal, Ukraine, and Poland. She has taught through the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago and is currently a long-term resident with the Studios at MASS MoCA.
The work in Trauma and Mending focuses on the systems and structures that maintain and support sexual violence, examining the bureaucracy and routine revictimization that underpins our cultural handling of sexual violence to achieve poetics through didacticism. These pieces bear witness to traumatic histories, mediating the relation between the literal representation of the object and the pain they signify, but only indirectly portray. Hiding, erasing, or fracturing text through the intervention of image, material, or audience, the pieces highlight the construction and fragility of the narratives we build.
Video Still, Glass Tower, Tania Zaidi, 2020
“A Tourist In Your Own Home” is an online exhibition curated by artist Shasha Dothan.
Along with five artists Dothan invited, who are also immigrants to the United States,
they created video works about their 2020 experience. This exhibition looks at each
immigrant’s struggle and the notion of home. Is the new country you live in your home?
Is the country you were born in your home? Being confined at home for the last year
due to Covid 19, immigrant artists may struggle even more with the questions of displacement.
Many questions about home and feeling like you don’t belong become more difficult.
In this online video exhibition, the selected artists will represent different facets of immigrating to the US. Each artist comes from a different country and culture. Each has their own story. What they all have in common is living in the US in 2020, trying to build a future for themselves. The show will ask, will you become a tourist in the land you were born? And also, are you at home in the land you now live in? Finally, is the realm of art an alternative home for immigrants?
The artists Jisoo Chung, Marton Robinson, Shirin Bolourchi and Ali Azhari, Tania Zaidi and Shasha Dothan choose to look at this time in a different way, with a different perspective and in a different language. All these stories are connected to an individual experience but share a universal feeling of being lost in translation.
Welcome to MCLA Gallery 51’s curated 2020 Alumni Art Show. The event is co-hosted by the MCLA Alumni Office. The curated works included in the 2020 Alumni Art Show span the practices of fourteen artists who graduated from MCLA between 1971 - 2019. Each artist was invited to submit work for the exhibition, from which Gallery 51 made a final selection of the works included in the show.
This exhibit is free and open to the public. Attendees may make a suggested donation of $5 to support The Fund for MCLA by texting FUND4MCLA to 41444 or visiting http://give2.mcla.edu/. Donations support student emergency need, scholarship, and equitable internship access and all gifts are fully tax-deductible. Thank you for joining Gallery 51 and the MCLA Alumni Office in celebrating this talented group of alumni.
Selected artists include: Cara Finch ‘11 • Melyssa Fortini ‘19 • Jennifer (Smith) Huberdeau ‘00 • Alexander Jamal ‘15 • Christina Kelly ‘98 • Makayla-Courtney McGeeney ‘16 • Amy Modesti ‘14 • Bill Righter ‘80 • Theresa M. Terry ‘71 • Stephanie VanBramer ‘14 • Ben Warren ‘11 • Isaac H. Wood ‘17
MCLA Berkshire Cultural Center’s Gallery 51 is pleased to present a new body of work by artist-in-residence Genevieve Gaignard. Her exhibition “ A Long Way From Home” draws upon the many artistic forms we have come to know from her such as collage and assemblage of found objects into an environment that plays with the senses. Known for her works that explore class, race, and gender, Gaignard renders her interior world radically exterior. She accomplishes this exteriorization by reproducing a home space to question the repetitions of the past in the present.
Home again in rural mill town Massachusetts, Gaignard is confronted with all the ways her artistic migration has changed her and how the events of the world put into perspective the contradictions of her hometown. She seeks the sights and sounds of home. She longs for another feel, another place, a different space. Gaignard longs for a different place to rest during the historical and political turbulence of COVID-19 and the reemergence of Black Lives Matter protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“A Long Way From Home” drops the viewer into Gaignard’s inner turbulence through an imagined parlor–an externalization of an interior place–for all to see. There are moments where the walls are decorated with found photos of black and white faces that appear to be weeping and at times marked by black jeweled tears. Each technique Gaignard deploys interrogates a complex field of emotion depicting the disorientation stemming from feelings of grief, anger, and exhaustion for black lives cut short. Gaignard’s discontent is seen in “Salty Karens,” a collage of a gaggle of white women noticeably enjoying themselves with a floral wallpaper backdrop. Gaignard places an oversized cutout of a Morton’s salt box trickling salt over one of the women’s heads producing a masked hood.
Taking a more serious tone, Gaignard does not shy away from the long history that precedes our present. Another collage in the exhibition has an off white wallpaper marked by blue watercolor roses. The wallpaper is the background to a large stencil cut out of the words “White Lies.” Directly beneath the words is an image of a white woman in a white formal evening gown standing on a bed of flowers. Her arms are intertwined in a white shawl in such a way to signal her enjoyment. To the left and to the right of the white women’s image are two large white feminine looking hands with lace lined handkerchiefs. In contrast to these pictures is an image of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK). In one of his hands are notes for a speech while the other hand waves back at the field of whiteness he spent his lifetime addressing.
Gaignard’s placement of MLK and former President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in her home is a nod to a history she is tired of repeating. Gaignard is much like a child on a road trip seeking reprieve from monotonous terrain. She is frustrated about the repetition of white lies that promise freedom, justice, and democracy for all. American history tells a different story. Rather, it repeats the same historical exclusions with a different technique. Gaignard’s impatience is clear, her question “are we there yet?” is an invitation to join in her frustration at the white lies we are taught to believe.
“A Long Way From Home” is a practice of an artist who understands her form and knows how to use it. In these trying times her persistent question “are we there yet?” tied to a desire for home that is welcome to all speaks to a historical frustration that continues to linger in the present. Her work is an invitation to break the violent repetitions that anti-blackness, poverty, patriarchy, and homophobia beget and rebuild home anew. The exhibition will be on view from August 27 - December 7, 2020 at MCLA Gallery 51 and is curated by Erica Wall.
-Written by Dr. Taryn D. Jordan
We Are More Than A Moment is a call to be heard.
This virtual exhibition is organized by MCLA’s Gallery 51 and curated by Inaugural Artist in Residence, Genevieve Gaignard. Gaignard is a Los Angeles based artist whose work focuses on photographic self-portraiture, sculpture, and installation to explore race, femininity, class, and their various intersections. It is this exploration coupled with our nation’s most recent events that inspires the focus of this exhibition. The selected work echoes these themes and exemplifies the long-term prosperity of Black life.
Artists in Exhibition Section One:
Ambrose, Cheryl Bartley, Troy Chew, Jennifer Datchuk, Alexandria Deters, Kirsten Furlong, Merik Goma, Patrick Earl Hammie, Ashley Jan, Lavaughan Jenkins, Helina Metaferia, Abe Odedina, Christina Quarles, Christian Ramirez, Juliana Rico, Michon Sanders, Holly Tempo, Jillian Thompson, Nathan Wong, Kennedy Yanko
Artists in Exhibition Section Two:
Yasmine Diaz, Topher Gerzeli, Rachel Cassandra Gibbons, Cyd Gorman, Daesha Harris, D. Hill, Daphne Jenkins, Gladys Kalichini, Aya Kawabata, Jupiter Lockett, Nate Massari, Michi Meko, Chalice Mitchell, Kelly Taylor Mitchell, Chinaedu E. Nwadibia , Veronica Preciado, Richard Rawlins, Joshua Ross, Luis Vasquez La Roche, Christopher Williams
For availability of the work, click HERE.
A recording of the virtual opening is on the BCRC YouTube playlist.
Artist and recent graduate, Spring Hajjar, is featured as The Art of It artist in the June Digital Issue of Berkshire Magazine!
Untitled sculpture by Megan Reed, photo by Megan Reed
A Practice in Process is an exhibition intended to provide a window into the process that drives artists to make work and sustain a practice. The ability to sustain a practice, challenges artists with an unending search for very basic needs; a space to create, time to create, enough inspiration to motivate actual production and the ability to physically produce a final product. A Practice in Process shines a light on one way in which many artists attempt to address the arduous path of process in their practice. To continue to make and advance their work, many artists search for and attend artist residencies at least once, if not, many times throughout their careers. An artist residency can create a space to either change their work drastically, by moving it into an entirely different direction, or by pushing it much further in the same direction.
North Adams continues to draw artists from all over the world. Its rich burgeoning arts community continues to grow and thrive in the region, amidst spaces like Gallery 51, MASS MoCA and many other spaces like it in Berkshire County. This exhibition brings together the work of eight artists who traveled to the region to participate in the Studios at MASS MoCA artist-in-residence program, between December of 2019 and during January of 2020. A Practice in Process, with work by Megan Reed, Tara Sabharwal, Celeste Wilson, Phil Rabovsky, M Slater, Barbezat-Villetard, Jonathan Michael Korotko and Charlene Tan, will be on view from Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - Saturday, March 14, 2020 at MCLA Gallery 51. This exhibition was co-curated by Erica Wall and Charlene Tan and presented in partnership with MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists.