What is the Color of Loneliness?

It is a strange question to ask, but after being exposed to Nicole Osborne’s piece So We Color, I find myself often thinking about that question and how others would answer it.

This question first came up when a group of children came in to visit. Many of the kids paid little attention to the works around them and a few of them even refused to believe that what we were showing was art. While a majority just stole glances of the art or took turns listening to Tam-anh’s film Are you better off alone?, there was boy sitting by himself, deeply involved in the coloring of Nicole’s piece. A small conversation between another docent and the boy followed:

“Why is he in a locker?” the boy asked.

“Why do you think he’s in a locker?”

“…Maybe… he’s lonely”

“What color do you think loneliness is?”

The boy didn’t respond, but instead he paused with a thoughtful look in his eyes and then silently chose a color began coloring again.

I never knew what color he chose and he left suddenly after that, taking the page with him, but this scene has left me with a deeper understanding of Nicole’s piece than when I sat in that small wooden desk and colored a picture myself. I took a shallow stab when I colored my first piece and I thought that others wouldn’t involve themselves as deeply as well. A few weeks have passed since then and now I see that many of the participants have been brave enough to share their secrets and insecurities through Nicole’s art.

I have seen and experienced art generating conversations and eliciting strong emotions, but this was the first time that I have seen art persuade its viewers to share their own personal struggles. If you come by the gallery and color a piece, perhaps you’ll learn something about yourself and discover what color loneliness is to you.

 

                              Nicole Osborne’s “So We Color” ・ Viewer Submissions

Written by Karisha Rodrigo

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Personal Discoveries in the Works of Others

The bodies we use to walk through the world are fraught with challenges – one of which is our very own mind. Whatever we struggle with, whatever we conquer, our minds are their own little complications. On the other hand, our minds can be our access point to creation, to emotional connection, and to a wide array of healing experiences.

The show of the moment at the Stamp Gallery is entitled “I’m Fine” – now we’ve all said or heard that before, fully understanding its cover-up abilities. The artists featured in the Stamp Gallery have explored what it is to cope and grow from tragedy, life, and larger societal realities through art and the process of creation. Our minds can create art and art can in turn bring about some sort of peace or understanding into the absolutely wonderful chaos that is our everyday.

Even the space itself, Stamp Gallery, is a spot for pause and for reflection. Watching over the art as patrons wander in to glance at or maybe even interact with the pieces, in a way, provides a feeling of balance. They experience the power of the artist’s mind in the artist’s creations. The mind of the creator in a brief moment interacts with the mind of the patron whether or not either party knows it. From watching a video of an artist pealing and scraping plaster off of her skin to listening to a woman discuss the burning down of her home with her mother while swaying peacefully in a rocking chair, observing art creates an entry point into a different life- a different world even.

The opportunity that places like Stamp Gallery provide to learn something about you through another person’s journey is something to be reveled in. With respect to some universal narratives, it is important that we each spend time examining the uniqueness of our existences and our own processes with which we cope and grow.

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Photo Series “Better” by Susannah Ward

Written by Kat Mullineaux


Too Busy for Art?

If you’ve ever been on the DC Metro or any other sort of public transit system, you recognize the peddlers at the entrances trying to whatever they have in stock—food, newspapers, flowers, etc. Their business strategy is understandable: “be in the place with the most traffic and you’re bound to sell something”; yet despite the massive flows of people coming and going, you hardly see people clamoring to buy. Why have you never stopped to buy food or flowers or newspapers? Maybe you really don’t need those things, or maybe you’re in a rush and down have time to slow down.

A similar phenomenon occurs right here in the Stamp Gallery. Although this space is located in the hub of campus life—the Stamp Student Union—our steady flow of visitors pales in comparison to the sheer volume of people who pass through this building. Understandably, not everyone who visits Stamp is looking for a gallery experience, and in fact many passersby are so absorbed in their own goals to take a look inside this space. However, experiencing art is not necessarily pursued, but discovered.

Our glass walls allow passersby to catch glances of the work hung in the gallery, and over the past few years I’ve seen people stop in their tracks, becoming engrossed in the exhibition from afar. This reaction is particularly visible in our current show, as people stop and stare at Brandon Chambers’ video piece, Reviling of Pleasing Corruptions from beyond the glass. Some of enter the space, others move on, but despite the physical barrier between themselves and the work, they all participate in the experience. For those who say they aren’t interested in art or don’t have enough time, let the artwork catch your eye the next time you walk by the Stamp Gallery; even that fleeting moment of confusion, revulsion, or awe is enough.

Written by Christopher Bugtong.


Starting Conversations with “I’m Fine”

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Dana Hollister’s “Living with ADHD”

For me, my problems are like secrets: I only disclose them to my closest friends, and only when I am at my most vulnerable. If I want to complain about the struggles of adulthood or if I need to vent about my day, the ones with who I am most comfortable will be the ones to hear it. Despite having an amazing group of people supporting me, so much is still left unsaid, and it’s often easier to simply say “I’m fine” instead of discussing the depths of my worries.

 

Talking through these problems can be a difficult and overwhelming process. An initial barrier to these conversations is the complexity and uncertainty of these emotions that surround our problems: the root of our emotions is difficult to define and even more difficult to verbalize. Words can be inadequate in expressing feelings that are both ever-present yet intangible. It’s easy to say that my problems feel bad, but it’s more difficult to say why they make me feel bad. The use of language enforces a certain logic that may simply not apply to an emotive state, and thus having a real discussion about these problems can feel futile.

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Rachel Carruthers’ “Cold Comfort” and “Dirty Laundry”

The struggle to express ourselves underlies the beauty of our current exhibition, I’m Fine. Each of the seven featured artists navigates the introspective process through their own media: print, sculpture, video, etc. Each work is impressed upon with a vision of the moment, not necessarily elaborating upon the worry and concerns of the artist but rather depicting it. In this way, the inadequacy of words becomes a non-issue, and the language of emotions is more appropriately represented. The artist not only make sense of their personal thoughts, but also make those thoughts public and digestible to a viewing audience.

 

Though the themes of this show’s works may differ from the viewer’s day-to-day struggles, they commonly embody a cathartic process in which emotions may be explored. Not everyone has to be an artist to participate in self-care, but I’m Fine offers an alternative that hopefully starts the conversation.

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Sussannah Ward’s “Better” series

Written by Christopher Bugtong.

 


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

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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.

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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