The Allegheny Art Galleries are showcasing the work of four artists in the recently opened “Making Space.” The gallery is located in the Doane Hall of Art and opened on Tuesday, March 1, and will continue to be open to the public until April 2.
“This is an exhibition that is a little bit of a departure from what we often do,” said Assistant Professor of Art History Paula Burleigh, who worked with the director of Erie Arts & Culture, Patrick Fisher, to get in touch with the artists and to get their work in the gallery. “(This gallery) was an effort to kind of recognize the really exciting work that’s being done in Erie right now by Erie Arts & Culture.” The artists featured are all alumni of the Erie Arts & Culture month-long residency program. The program is designed in partnership with the Florida based arts non-profit Long Road Projects to put contemporary artists from all over the country and the world in the Erie community and give them a month of “dedicated time and space to reflect, research, and create new bodies of work — outside of their usual environments,” according to their website. The four artists whose work is featured in “Making Space” are Gonzalo Hernandez, Sharon Norwood, Hiromi Moneyhun and Stephon Senegal, each artist coming from a different cultural background that influences the work being shown in the gallery.
Hernandez is originally from Peru and uses his familiarity with Peruvian textiles in his work. Norwood is African-American and her work centers around that experience and the folklore that surrounds that experience both historically and contemporary. Moneyhun was born in Kyoto, and despite moving to Florida in 2004, references her background in her art, with many of her illustrated work being a combination of more traditional Japanese art with the heightened contemporaneousness of modern age Japan. Senegal is focused on West Africa, taking influence from the stories and mythologies found there for his art.
“I think all the artists in the show are really thinking about the space of the gallery and trying to disrupt what Sharon Norwood calls ‘the historically white space of the gallery,’” Burleigh said.
Burleigh said that the pieces thread together throughout the gallery.
“We can think about the gallery as a white cube, you know, we are very resolutely white walls,” Burleigh said. “Historically, it’s been a kind of a racially monolithic space that was exclusionary, and I think all of these artists are really thinking explicitly about that in the way that they are making space in their work. For stories, narratives, new mythologies proliferate from a range of communities and cultures. And so, they’re all now based in the United States, but in many instances, they’re working from communities that connect to their own Heritage’s.” The next show that the Allegheny Art gallery will be hosting is the annual open student show. Unlike the other student shows that take place during the year which are tied to course work like the junior seminar or the senior comp, the annual open student show is open to all Allegheny students. Students’ major and whether they have taken an art class before are not factors, however just because a piece of art is submitted does not mean that it will be put in the gallery. After two days of “intake,” when the art is submitted, a third-party judge not affiliated with the college comes in to evaluate the works.. The student work that is not accepted into the gallery is not discarded or disregarded, but collected by the Student Art Society and is shown in the Box Gallery. There are also the two other student shows happening in the spring semester.
“Making Space” will also serve as a gathering space for a music event featuring Douglas Jurs, assistant professor of music, as well as a visiting artist on March 11. A virtual panel discussion featuring all four artists will take place Tuesday, March 15 beginning at 6:30 p.m.