Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Jessica van Brakle

This is the third installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Jessica van Brakle || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Yvette Yu

IMG_20170509_152202_576

Jessica van Brakle, Don’t Trifle The Time, Ink, Acrylic, graphite, and cut paper collage on watercolor paper

To start with a little background: where are you from, where did you study as an undergrad, and why M.F.A program at Maryland?

I am actually from this area. Born in Bethesda, MD and grew up mostly in Rockville but also here in College Park since my grandmother lived down the street in University Park. I received my BFA from the Corcoran in 2007 and then worked as a practicing artist up until joining the program here. UMD appealed to me because I liked the idea of staying local and the studios are fairly spacious which really really helps. It’s also a good place to get a lot of teaching experience.

 

In your MIDPOINT works, you used a combination of collage, ink, and graphite. Do you always like to use these mediums together? How do they convey the meanings of your work in this exhibition, and your art in general?

I’ve always utilized multiple mediums in my work but added collage about 2 years ago. I think it adds another layer of complexity and depth. Varying the materials used helps me build that alternate strange world.

 

All the works include some elements from the Victorian era: the collage pieces, the framing… How are these elements helping you convey the meanings of your work?

Collage was actually a big thing in Victorian times- you had well to do women with idle time on their hands putting together their family albums, making scrap books and putting all sorts of imagery around and onto their photos. Five pieces in the show are what I call “Portal Portraits”- containing an image of these hybrid creatures that I’ve been creating (literally plants wearing Victorian clothing). I then cut an oval egg shaped hole in another paper and used that as a framing agent for the creatures. This relates to those albums but also to the developments of portraiture and photography during that era. For me the “Portal Portraits” become a time capsule into a future of the past.

 

Tell us a little bit about your artistic process. Do you plan ahead before you start a painting, or is it more spontaneous?

There is lots of planning beforehand, however it takes the shape of a lot of research, reading, and the writing of notes and ideas. The physical making of a piece might start from knowing I want there to be a mountain shape or a waterfall but each step thereafter is in response to the one before. I enjoy not knowing what a final piece will become.

 

With the common element of water, your three works: ‘Don’t Trifle the Time’, ‘Arrival of Venus, Salvation,’ and ‘Wholes, Liquidities, Grotesqueries,’ resemble greatly of ancient Chinese ink wash paintings from afar. Why do you choose to have water in all three of the work, and are you making references to the ink wash paintings?

The work I’ve been making in grad school has been primarily inspired by water; its ambiguity and fluidity, where land and water become one. A wellspring of resources, renewal, and of the life-source itself, water also embodies a place of danger, of possible contamination, and unfathomable depths. I’m definitely inspired by Asian Landscapes and their use of ink. Chinese ink wash paintings are often landscapes, mountains and tend to include a water element somewhere. They seek to capture a feeling or essence of something much more than just the representation of a place. My work explores fantastical dream-like spaces so layers of ink makes sense for this. Japanese painting influences can also be seen with the development of a narrative and more complex, crowded scenes.

 

Your contributions to the MIDPOINT exhibition exude a sense of mystery and fascination. What do you hope visitors take away from looking at your work?

Well, thank you. I actually tend to get bored easily and it’s hard to keep my attention. When I create artwork it’s for myself and I love when I can see or feel something new each time I look at it. If I can at the very least get a viewer to pay attention to the work and want to spend some time with them then I feel pretty good.

 

How do your pieces interact in conversation with Beki and Hugh’s? Do you think your work complements or questions them?

For MIDPOINT we actually did not pre-plan or make decisions on what we would show together as a group. Interestingly it ended up primarily black and white and everyone in their own way is utilizing hard and soft edges which helped give it a really nice flow.

 

What inspires you? Are there any other events, concepts, particular artists or art movements not yet mentioned here, that also inspire your work?

Nature mostly- botanical- are always in my artwork. I’m inspired by being outdoors, hiking, exploring. I also love reading science fiction- primarily older stuff and when I have time watching sci-fi movies. I’ve allowed this interest to have a pretty big effect on this body of work.

 

Can you tell me a little about what you are currently working on? 

Currently I’m working on finishing some more work for a show that opens May 12th at Centerfold Gallery in DC. The new pieces are similar in concept to my show at Stamp and I’m super excited to have an opportunity to show them.

 

More broadly, do you see your work heading in a particular direction over the remainder of your Masters, or beyond?

I feel fairly rooted in this recent body of work with lots of potential directions within to explore so I’ll continue working and essentially preparing for my thesis show next year.

IMG_20170509_152238_041

Jessica van Brakle, In Memoriam – Garden Ghosts I, II, III, Ink, acrylic, graphite, and cut paper collage on watercolor paper

 

For more information on van Brakle, visit http://jessicavanbrakle.com/.

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery.


Call for Artist Submissions

Call for Submissions for FALL 2017/ SPRING 2018

Deadline: June 1, 2017

The Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park, is currently seeking submissions by artists who would like to propose their work—recently completed or forthcoming—for inclusion in fall 2017 or spring 2018 exhibitions. Our location within the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life offers emerging and mid-career artists a singular opportunity to present work in a highly visible context to an engaged campus community. The gallery is invested in providing opportunities for developing and emerging artists and curators to present work that is innovative, that foregrounds process and/or conceptual concerns, and that challenges the community to think critically about the issues it addresses.

This is an open call for artists working individually, as collectives, and/or as one-time collaboratives to submit existing work or propose new projects for consideration by the gallery staff as we plan the 2017-18 exhibition calendar. Work in all media will be considered, including installation, performance, moving image, and audience-participatory projects, but please note that the Stamp Gallery cannot accommodate work that requires hanging heavy objects from the ceiling.

What to Submit

If you are an artist or collective who would like to recommend your work for consideration, please email the following materials to stampgallery@umd.edu:

  • Artist CV/Resume(s)
  • Up to 10 relevant images of your work (JPEG, max 72 dpi) accompanied by an image list with title, date, materials, dimensions in inches, and any relevant specifications for installation or equipment necessary for the presentation of the work. If video or audio recordings or documentation are essential to your proposed body of work, clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with passwords provided as necessary).
  • Artist Statement and a 1-page (max) statement about the specific body of work or project you are proposing for Stamp Gallery consideration. This statement should explain why the work is well-suited to the space, audience, and mission of the Stamp Gallery.
  • Please indicate explicitly whether your proposed project could require the full gallery space for an exhibition period of 6 to 8 weeks and/or whether you would like your work considered by curators as they assemble work for group exhibitions.   

*Digital submission packets only. Please do not submit original art.*   

Submissions should be sent by email to stampgallery@umd.edu

Questions? Contact stampgallery@umd.edu or 301-314-8492

About the Stamp Gallery

Located on the first floor of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life at the University of Maryland, College Park, The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, especially the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The Gallery is dedicated to providing meaningful art encounters and experiences for a diverse student body. Through its exhibitions and programming, the Gallery offers outside-of-the-classroom experiential learning opportunities. It functions as a laboratory where emerging artists and curators experiment and work through their ideas. The Gallery’s programming aims to emphasize the importance of process to contemporary artistic practice and to provide a forum for dialogue.

For a list of previous exhibitions held in the Stamp Gallery, click here. A SketchUp model of the Stamp Gallery can be downloaded here, and a floorplan in PDF form is available upon request.  

 


Call for Curatorial Proposals

Call for Proposals for FALL 2017/ SPRING 2018

Deadline: June 1, 2017

The Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park, is currently seeking exhibition proposals from independent curators or curatorial collectives with a compelling vision who are interested in fostering dialogue with diverse audiences through the work of emerging, contemporary artists in the area. This is an open call for independent curators working in Maryland, DC, and Virginia to submit proposals for an exhibition to be held in fall 2017 or spring 2018. Proposed exhibitions may present work by a single artist or multiple artists, and should seek to present recent artwork that is challenging, academically engaging, and attuned to broad community and social issues. Work in all media is considered, including installations, but please note that the Stamp Gallery cannot accommodate work that requires hanging heavy objects from the ceiling.

The curator(s) associated with the selected proposal will organize an exhibition in the Stamp Gallery to be on view for a six- to eight-week period between October 2017 and March 2018. The exhibition may not include work created by the curator(s). Proposals shortlisted for consideration for the 2017-18 academic year will be contacted by August 2017.

The outside curator(s) contracted by the Stamp Gallery will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the exhibition’s execution, including arrangements with artists, installation and de-installation, written materials and visual resources to be submitted to gallery staff on deadline for the timely creation of promotional materials, and creating/implementing any programs (performances, lectures, tours, etc.) to complement the exhibition. The gallery staff will advise and consult with the outside curator(s) to ensure the exhibition’s success. The gallery will create promotional materials for the exhibition and will provide a staff to aid with installation and de-installation.

About the Stamp Gallery

Located on the first floor of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life at the University of Maryland, College Park, The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, especially the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The Gallery is dedicated to providing meaningful art encounters and experiences for a diverse student body. Through its exhibitions and programming, the Gallery offers outside-of-the-classroom experiential learning opportunities. It functions as a laboratory where emerging artists and curators experiment and work through their ideas. The Gallery’s programming aims to emphasize the importance of process to contemporary artistic practice and to provide a forum for dialogue.

For a list of previous exhibitions held in the Stamp Gallery, click here. A SketchUp model of the Stamp Gallery can be downloaded here, and a PDF of the floorplan is available upon request.  

What to Submit

  1. CV/Resume (3 pages, max) demonstrating the curator(s)’s capacity to execute exhibitions of the proposed scale, institutional context, and complexity.
  2. Proposal. Describe the proposed exhibition, including its potential title and public time frame (Oct-Dec 2017 OR Jan-March 2018), its curatorial concept or themes, the name(s) and websites of artists you plan to include, and a list of all required equipment. Explain how this project is well-suited to the space, audience, and mission of the Stamp Gallery.
  3. Short bios and resumes/CVs for all artists to be included in the exhibition.
  4. Digital documentation of work by the artist(s) you propose to include. Max. 5 images per artist; images should be saved as JPEG files, max 72 dpi. If new work is to be created, include images of past work that adequately represents the artist(s). Video or audio clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with passwords provided as necessary).
  5. (Optional) Suggested programming (artist talks, performances, lectures, panel discussions, etc.) to accompany the exhibition or interpretive areas built into the exhibition layout (in-gallery reading room, communal art-making areas). (Programming and interpretation can also be determined after the acceptance of the proposal.)

Submissions should be sent by email to stampgallery@umd.edu
Questions? Contact stampgallery@umd.edu or 301-314-8492


Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Hugh Condrey Bryant

This is the second installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Hugh Condrey Bryant || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Sarah Schurman

Let’s start with some background: where are you from? What brought you to sculpture and the University of Maryland’s MFA program?

I’m originally from Greensboro, NC. I attended school at UNC Greensboro and received a BFA in art with a concentration in design as well as a BFA in theatrical set design. After that I did an internship at Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, MN and ended up staying there for 2 years as the sculpture park manager. I met a lot of artists from all over the world at Franconia, made a lot of connections. It was there that I met Dane Winkler who just recently graduated from the program last year. When I decided that grad school was something I wanted to do I contacted Dane to inquire about Maryland. I was very interested in what they had to offer so I applied. The program is primarily studio centric and focuses heavily on developing artistic practice and the conceptual aspects of one’s work. It was everything I was looking for. The access to studio facilities here is great and the faculty’s accessibility is very helpful. I find it to be an engaging environment that has really helped me come into my own as an artist.

In all three of your MIDPOINT works, you convey a fascination with traditionally “masculine” materials. How do these gendered mediums inform the meaning of your sculptures in this exhibition and your art in general?

Growing up, my father was sort of a jack of all trades. He had a lot of experience in many different fields of trade labor and construction. He was a mason, a carpenter, a metal worker, a crane rigger, and also worked within the field of nuclear power plant construction and maintenance during the late 80s and early 90s. From a young age he taught me many different techniques in masonry, carpentry, and later metal fabrication. He instilled in me a very strong sense of self efficacy and a mentality that I could build or make whatever I wanted. Learning these things from my father created a very strong bond between us. He taught me to appreciate the craftsmanship involved in skilled labor and to enjoy the accomplishment of a job well done. The fascination I have with these materials is very much associated with those early experiences.

My father is also a very loving, caring, and emotionally intelligent individual. So I also learned from him to move through life with grace and love, the importance of being in touch with one’s emotions, and of exercising kindness and compassion with others. I may not have known it at the time, but all of this would have a very profound affect on me later in life in regard to how I view masculinity.  For me being a man is not about physical strength and stoicism as many boys are taught from a young age. I am first and foremost a human being before I am a man. To me that means understanding that there is a  spectrum of ‘gender’ that can inform one’s identity. The designation of gender does not have to define how we behave or who we are as human beings. Masculinity, femininity, and everything outside and inbetween are a great part of human energy.

I associate all of the aforementioned with these materials. I see the traditional link of masculinity to the skilled labor involved with steel and concrete to be an antiquated sentiment. But it is that link that I find so interesting when it comes to applying my views regarding gender to the art I create with those materials. Skill and labor are genderless and the sculptures I produce are part of that belief. I use sculpture as a means to communicate through form and express the emotional aspects of my identity.

Tell us a little bit about your artistic process. Was it drastically different for the three pieces or similar?

Within my process and practice there are two distinctly different and oppositional creative impulses. One is the tendency to control material with a great intention toward the outcome, I generally apply this to steel. The other is to accept that I have no true or absolute control over the material and therefore I must respond to the outcome once I have executed a process. That is the impulse I attribute to the ways in which I cast concrete. The former is a very tedious and time consuming process while the latter is very quick and rooted in intuition. I associate that with the intuitive and with the unconscious to a certain degree, something that is latent and must be awakened or found. I associate the tedious and sometimes overcomplicated tendency in attempting to control the material absolutely to the overly rational parts of my mind. That tendency is obsessive at times and can even become irrational, which is kind of funny to me. I try to find a balance between the two but it doesn’t always work out that way, but I think that tension is what informs the physical tension of my sculptures. Sometimes a piece or even certain parts of a piece take a lot of time to work through, which was the case with A Constantly Persistent Moment (temporal portrait) and Of Ideals & Relics. Sometimes pieces happen at a rapid pace, taking very little time. This was the case with It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neurosis Will Go to Protect Itself, which only took a day to make. What is similar for all three sculptures is that each one is subject to both of these creative impulses to some degree, but I pushed myself to be decisive and intuitive in making and responding to the outcomes of all three.

What concepts inspired your titles: A Constantly Persistent Moment, Of Ideals & Relics, and It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go to Protect Itself?

All are inspired by the fluctuant nature of being. I make, respond, and contemplate.  The concepts I apply to all my work come from a place within my mind that relies on the intuitive and emotional, a place where I am illuminating the unconscious and studying the point at which the internal and external meet. All three sculptures are expressions from that place. Once something is done the title comes to me as I analyze what I’ve created.

All three works, particularly A Constantly Persistent Moment, convey the sense of being suspended in space. Does this choice juxtapose the concrete materials with their fragile positioning?

To an extent, yes. I like playing with tension. Accentuating weight and mass through tension is a process of play that I have always engaged in. The juxtaposition of these can create a interesting dialogue between sculptural forms and engage space more effectively, especially when intervening with the architecture of a space, such as the way that It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go To Protect Itself does with the columns of the gallery.

It’s Impressive How Far One’s Neuroses Will Go To Protect Itself seems to be situated in a defensive position. How does the smooth base, guarded by spikes, represent the mind?

The positioning, gesture, and tension represents the unconscious constraints, limitations, and protective tendencies that occur within systems of belief we form in the mind. The title is something a friend of mine said to me one time. We were discussing the cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy that some people exhibit between their behavior/actions, their desires/expectations from others, and the systems of belief they construct. The propensity to say one thing and do another. A product of that is a protective and defensive mechanism that serves primarily to preserve the ego and avoid the pitfalls of guilt and shame. While this unconscious practice can keep the mind free of negativities regarding one’s self perception it can also form a prison built of beliefs that hinders realizations about (and improvements to) the self and the potentials of one’s existence. So… the spikes could perhaps be representative of those mental defenses that surround vulnerability. The cables an expression of the limitations and bonds that those defenses place on the mind; therefore, limiting its ability to experience growth and transformation into higher states of perception regarding how the self affects and is affected by the external world.

Was color a consideration when making Of Ideals & Relics? In what ways does its smooth, touchable texture communicate meaning?

The color is intended to exhibit softness, a kind of sensitivity. The texture coincides with that intention. The meaning I attach to that is there is strength within vulnerability. To acknowledge and accept vulnerability is to be in touch with what one’s inner strength can overcome. When one doesn’t acknowledge vulnerability it can sometimes hold one back from experiencing true and genuine connections with others. To put yourself out there is tough, but it is one way to overcome or rise above the unrealistic societal ideals and expectations that have a hold on us all. Through the material characteristics of texture and color I hope that people are inclined to interact with it, to have a more intimate and tactile experience with it. The smooth and delicate appearance is juxtaposed with the mass of the concrete, the reality that it is concrete… When the realization of what it is made out of occurs the viewer’s perception of what is possible is shaken. In a sense, I wanna drop cosmic eggs of knowledge on people’s heads, blow their minds in regard to material possibilities.

How do your three sculptures interact in conversation with each other and MIDPOINT as a whole? Do you think your work complements or questions Bekí and Jessica’s respective pieces?

With each other… I think they speak to the flexibility and openness of my approach while also communicating the multifaceted nature of the concepts I’m playing with. The mind and one’s internal emotional world are complex places. I like to think that these sculptures ride a line that exhibits both complexity of thought and simplicity of form. I feel there is also a conversation involving a sense of temporality that can be embodied in form. Whether it be a kind of potential for action to occur, a sense of stasis, or even sense of immobility.

I feel that there is a form of aesthetic or maybe visual complement to Bekí and Jessica’s work. There is a bit more visual complexity and intricacies to their work whereas my work utilizes simpler lines and shapes. I feel it may be a middle ground between what they’ve produced.

Your contributions to the MIDPOINT exhibition exude a sense of tension. Through the contradictions you explore, are you commenting on universal human experience or isolated, personal moments?

I think there is a little bit of both. I’m using concepts that work universally or at least incorporate a common thread of consensus in human experience, but I’m also using a lot of my personal perception and experience. So I’d have to say that to some degree I am commenting on both.

What and where are your sources of inspiration? Do your influences extend beyond the art world?

Hmmm… My former professor, Andy Dunnill, was a huge influence on me. He passed away a little over a year ago and that also inspired me in certain ways, especially how I think about making art. It made me realize that what I make my work about should be deeply important to me. Andy’s work and his continued mentorship post-undergrad had a profound affect on me. Even his passing and his memory continue to affect my work. I plan to dedicate the work for my thesis exhibition to him.

My friend Jemila MacEwan has also been a huge inspiration, especially in the expansion of the scope of my work and how I think about it. She is a sort of muse to me in a way. Her friendship and generosity are constantly pushing me to be a better person and artist.

Outside of that I look at the world around me and I read a lot of science fiction. The imagery that my mind creates while reading is a huge inspiration and part of how I envision things I am interested in making. Reading sci-fi has given me a library of mental imagery that I often pull from.

How does teaching and collaborating with other artists shape your artistic vision?

Learning is a constant thing for me. When I teach I am also learning from my students and empathizing with the way they see and perceive the world through art. Collaboration is the same way. I think learning and keeping the mind flexible and plastic is important to responding to what you make and improving upon it. The more perspectives I’m exposed to the more likely I am to maintain a mental plasticity that allows for transformation and growth in my work and artistic vision.

Tell us about any current projects or future endeavors. How has pursuing your Masters impacted the trajectory of your artistic career?

I’m really focused on developing my thesis. I want to start now because I know I’ll need a lot of time to come to a decision about the scope and ambition I want to apply to it, how big I want to make it. I have time though.

Besides thesis I’m going to participate in an arthouse residency this summer in upstate NY. I’ll be building housing+studio space for the artists that come to participate in residencies there. It’s always nice to build or make something that doesn’t have to do with my thesis work so that will be a nice distraction.

As for my Masters and how that has impacted my trajectory… I know now for certain that I want to teach. That gives me a lot of direction as to what my next steps might be and where they may lead me. I think teaching will also provide me with a means to keep pursuing my own work. If I can teach and still make art then I’m set. The future has a way of not conforming to expectations though so I try not to think too far ahead. Helps me a avoid unnecessary disappointment.

What do you hope visitors take away from MIDPOINT 2017?

I hope my work provokes inquiry and makes them ask questions. I like to ask questions or provoke people to ask their own. I’m not really interested in the answers though. As long as the work sticks in the viewer’s mind for awhile and causes them to contemplate possibilities. That’s the best I can hope for.

Bryant’s work is included in MIDPOINT 2017 in The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from March 29 through May 22, 2017

For more information on Bryant, visit http://hughcondreybryant.com

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery.


Monumentality in Washington: A Reflection

This weekend, I visited D.C. to volunteer and was shocked by the poverty-stricken corners of the capital I had not seen before. Since most of my escapades to the district have been touristy, I was familiar with the city’s gorgeous architecture, Parisian flavor, and historic monuments. Generally, I have never felt particularly touched by the works I’ve seen there. I recall feeling at ease at the tranquil FDR memorial, unsure how to connect my environment to the influential president. Granted, I was relatively young and unaware of Roosevelt’s legacy and the social tumult of the Great Depression (an ironic contrast to the serenity of the memorial site). In fact, nothing about any of the monuments I’ve visited have informed my historical knowledge. Still, I know the random guy on a horse represents valor and wartime bravery. I understand that the stoic granite faces embody hope and leadership. I know that to touch a marble hand or face would be irreverent, but I am never tempted because the stone would be cold anyway.

While I do believe in commemorating heroes, monuments can never be as evocative as eyes lit with passion, veins surging with determination, and voices overtaken by hope. Many times, this defective representation can be stirring in itself: while the thousands of shoes at the Holocaust Museum are unfilled, the distinct human presence saturating the air is inescapable. Some of the most powerful and ineffective attempts at remembrance invoke the sensation of reaching. Representation is only ever approached; it is not an arrival but a subjective ideal.

Ultimately, the inspiration and solemnity D.C.’s monuments and memorials grasp for is more honestly encompassed by their context. In deteriorated, struggling urban neighborhoods, the Capitol Building overlooks citizens largely neglected by the government. Homeless veterans brace for winter within miles of war memorials. The peak of the Washington Monument towers over protesters petrified by the executive branch. Irony infects the air, but it cannot pierce stone. Even if it could, most monuments are far from the dark regions of the city. If they are in sight, they only taunt citizens who need action, not ideals locked in granite.

Sarah Schurman 


Finding a Voice

This exhibition has welcomed perspective and reflection to its visitors—an outlet for expression and an experience where people are thrust into a multisensory experience that activates emotions implicitly and explicitly. I wanted to share my experience and reflection to the exhibit from the perspective as a docent, surrounded by the artwork including Upresting by Adam Holofcener and the Counter-Archive Project by Antonio McAfee.

Black Maths has allowed me to address emotions, reflect and contemplate on past and current events surrounding issues of inequality. Upresting is a powerful piece that allows people to have a voice—to speak into the microphone and become a part of the protests of the 2015 Baltimore Uprising. I have always been a quiet person; I observe and rarely speak out. In the past few years I have gained the confidence to speak out on important issues. This exhibit was an opportunity for many to express their emotions about the current state of our country, the unjust treatment of people of color, the election results, and to add their voices to the collective sea of unrest and anger. As millennials, information is thrown at us constantly through technology and several media outlets. We must sift through a wealth of information and interpret the world through what we see and experience. In my opinion, it isn’t acceptable to be silent or willingly blind to our privilege. Silence is compliance and silence is privilege, and this piece symbolizes the need for us to stand up and speak against racism, discrimination, and police brutality. Sitting in the gallery constantly submerged in the mix of voices, images, and spaces threw me into the experience and forced me to confront these thoughts. The art served as a constant reminder that issues of inequality in the black community, police brutality, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and more still exist and remain in full force. Although slavery has been abolished, racism has not disappeared, it has evolved. I have always found an outlet in music. I believe that music is poetry that artists use to vocalize and articulate their experiences. In “Black America Again”, a song written by Common, a rapper from Chicago, known for his powerful and socially conscious lyricism, discusses the issues of the perpetual misrepresentation of black people in the US. I interpreted Antonio McAfee’s Counter-Archive Project to bring these same issues to light. In the song, Common addresses discrimination, opening with the lyrics “Here we go, here, here we go again… Trayvon’ll never get to be an older man. Black children, they childhood stole from them”. This lyric refers to the tragic murder of  Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 16 year old African American boy killed in 2012 when walking to his father’s house through a gated community. Common continues his verse with “The new plantation, mass incarceration… instead of educate, they’d rather convict the kids… From schools to prison y’all, they tryna pipe us. Tell your political parties invite us instead of making broke laws to spite us” and “The color of my skin, they comparing it to sin.. The darker it gets, the less fairer it has been”. In this part of the song, he refers to the school to prison pipeline, institutionalized racism, and discrimination. This made me think about the way the system deals with communities with high crime rates. Instead of attacking the root of the problem and providing better opportunities through education, the government criminalizes and convicts those who had no other choice but to be involved in illicit activities. This album came out in November right after the exhibit opened. I used to come to work and sit at the desk and experience the Counter-Archive Project. I would see the faces of African American men and women from the 1900s distorted and represented in new ways and I listened to the echoes and distortion of men and women marching together in response to the death of Freddie Gray to protest the unjustified killings of black Americans. I listened to this album repeatedly after I got off work. Listening to others articulate thoughts that I could not helped me understand even more. Being immersed in this experience allowed me to organize my thoughts on the treatment of black people in our country. I gained more perspective through the emotional context of these issues rather than just seeing news story after news story. Racism is real, police brutality is real, and discrimination is real. These statements must be seen, heard, and engrained in the brain of every single person to activate change. The last line of “Black America Again” is echoed by Stevie Wonder, “We are rewriting the black American story…”—it is up to us to change the course of history and let our voices be heard.

 

Tasiana Paolisso


Monumental Form/Memorial Time Symposium Call for Papers

The Stamp Gallery is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for “Monumental Form/Memorial Time: A Graduate Symposium in the History and Practice of Art and Architecture.” The symposium will take place on March 10-11, 2017, in association with the closing weekend of the Stamp Gallery’s upcoming exhibition, Collective Monument. Submissions for the symposium are due on Sunday, January 15, 2016. Details can be found below.

Call for Papers and Projects

The notion of monumentality—as an aesthetic, temporal, and existential category—is one of the most conflicted concepts in historical and critical literature on architecture and the visual arts. Efforts to create monuments are often perceived as fundamentally complicit in consolidating political power and ideological hegemony, and many critics have attacked the traditional concept of the monument as fundamentally incompatible with the context of global modernity. Others look to monuments as sites where—through collective production and preservation—an authentic sense of localized community might still emerge. The coordinators of the Stamp Gallery and the Graduate Art History Association at the University of Maryland, College Park, welcome graduate student papers addressing the topic of monuments, memorials, and monumentality across time and space.

Papers may consider topics including—but not limited to: the notion of monumentality in ancient societies; collective efforts to produce monuments or memorials respondent to (post/)modernity; the relationship between monuments and political power; the relationship between gender, race, and monumental representation; the production of monuments as a factor in global artistic networks;  the aesthetic of ‘monumentality’ as a quality of objects not typically considered ‘monuments’; monuments and the monumental in literature and poetry; the commission and afterlives of controversial monuments; and the kinds of time or temporality produced in monuments and memorials.

This symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition Collective Monument at the Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland, January 25—March 11, 2017, featuring work by Onejoon Che, DZT Collective, and Nara Park.  The symposium will be held Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 11, 2017, with a keynote lecture by New York-based artist Lisi Raskin on Friday evening at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, Center for Campus Life, University of Maryland.

We welcome submissions from current MA or PhD students at all stages of their studies, working in any area, chronological period, or discipline. We also welcome proposals for presentations or performances by artists pursuing MFAs whose work deals closely with the question of monumentality as a form or concept.

Papers must be original and unpublished. Please send a paper title, an abstract (maximum 300 words), and a CV to stampgallery@umd.edu. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, January 15, 2016. Selected speakers will be notified before January 30, 2017, and are expected to accept or decline the offer within a week of notification. Papers, presentations, or performances should be 15 minutes in length and will be followed by a question and answer session.

study-for-a-monument_2

DZT Collective, Study for a Monument, 2014–ongoing, interactive installation. Image courtesy of the artists.