The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey will open its winter/spring exhibition season today with three new shows. The exhibits will be on view until May 22.
The main gallery exhibition, Claiming the Story, is a group exhibition that raises the questions, “Whose story is told on the walls of the museum? and “who is telling the story?”
Focusing on subjects that have been “marginalized, ignored, exoticized or even erased from Western art history, the 11 artists in this exhibition challenge assumptions about historical narratives, ‘classic’ portraiture and power the look”.
Together, they seek “a more authentic representation of contemporary life by expanding and diversifying the possibilities of figurative art”. Featured artists include: Tyler Ballon, Santiago Galeas, Alex Gardner, Todd Gray, Layqa Nuna Yawar, Shona McAndrew, Arcmanoro Niles, Ron Norsworthy, Ransome, Mickalene Thomas and Philemona Williamson.
At the same time, “Jess T. Dugan: Seen” will be exhibited in the Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery of the Art Center. Dugan is an artist whose work revolves around an exploration of identity, particularly gender and sexuality. Drawing from her own experience as a queer, non-binary person, Dugan uses traditional photographic techniques to create color portraits that “reflect the complex beauty and humanity of their subjects.”
This focused exhibition highlights color portraits from their recent and ongoing projects “To Survive on This Shore” and “Every Breath We Drew”, and includes a reading space where Dugan’s three art photography books will provide a more complete view of their work. Conveying both direct and intimate meaning, Dugan’s portraits and self-portraits “encourage empathy and understanding and emphasize the importance of not just seeing but being seen”.
Parvathi Kumar’s work, collectively titled “Everyday Blackness”, will be exhibited in the Marité and Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery I. Beginning in June 2020, Kumar photographed and interviewed 25 black women in the New Jersey area to show their collective courage , tenacity and resilience.
Responding to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests as well as the global COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey-based photographer wanted to document and share “the great kindness she observed in this group of women “. —a kindness that prevailed over the pain that people felt. Her efforts culminated in the book “Everyday Blackness: Celebrating Exceptional Women,” published last year. Aged between 19 and 86, the women featured represent a wide range of professions and backgrounds. This exhibit includes portraits of all 25 women and features quotes and brief biographies of each subject.
For more than eight decades, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been dedicated to observing, creating, and learning about contemporary art. The non-profit arts organization Studio School’s exhibits and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors, and people with special needs each year.
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is located at 68 Elm St. in Summit. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission must be reserved in advance. Call 908-273-9121 to confirm vacation hours. Visit artcenternj.org for more information.