September 18, 2020

Heather Hart at Queens Museum + ArtYard

Heather Hart's Oracle of the Twelve Tenses opened this week at Queens Museum and another one of her rooftops opened at ArtYard last week.

Hart teaches sculpture at Mason Gross Art + Design and is a visual artist who works in a variety of media including interactive and participatory Installation art, drawing, collage, and painting. She is a co-founder of the Black Lunch Table Project, which includes a Wikipedia initiative focused on addressing gender gap and diversity representation in the arts on Wikipedia, which is the origin of this paragraph.

Hart's Oracle of the Twelve Tenses

at Queens Museum

Image from Kendal Henry: Heather Hart's Oracle of the Twelve Tenses at Queens Museum. (@kendalhenry is an artist and the Curator and Director of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program).

Text below from Queens MuseumAfter the Plaster Foundation, or, “Where can we live?” is an exhibition of twelve artists and artist groups with roots in New York City asking critical questions about home, property, and the Earth, and who has access to these things under capitalism.

“Where can we live?” is a question that features in all our lives, but is experienced unevenly. In 1972, underground performance legend Jack Smith was evicted from his home, a Soho loft he called “The Plaster Foundation.” In the years that followed, New York’s economy shifted decisively from manufacturing to finance and real estate, and a new era of “predatory inclusion” that further undermined urban Black communities got underway in cities across the U.S. Pointing to documented histories of racial exclusion as well as the contradictions of the enduring myth of artistic bohemia, the works in the exhibition–whether satirical, speculative or grounded in the work of organizing–suggest ways of resisting the reach of capital into our homes, and innermost lives.

To engage audiences with these profound political and philosophical issues, many artists focus on our city as a crucible of activity, point in a global network, or documentary subject. Some celebrate the resilience of long-time residents, recent immigrants, and artists–many of whom combine these identities in various ways. Other artists reach back and forward in time, place, and space, touching on broader questions of possession and use of land, ideas of hospitality, self-reliance and debt, helping connect the show overall to systemic inequities painfully exacerbated today. 

After the Plaster Foundation, or, “Where can we live?” features works by Jennifer Bolande, Ilana Harris-Babou, Heather Hart, Simon Leung, Shawn Maximo, Sondra Perry, Douglas Ross, Peter Scott, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Caroline Woolard, and Betty Yu, and artifacts from the collection of Museum of Capitalism. The show is organized by Larissa Harris, Curator, with Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator, and Lindsey Berfond, Assistant Curator.

Image description: Video still of Heather Hart from Heather Hart, "Southern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off".

Hart's Rooftop at ArtYard

Book your free reservation via Eventbrite, here.

Text below is from ArtYard, who stated that to make visits to ArtYard as safe as possible, they ask that interested visitors make a reservation to visit their gallery in advance. 

ArtYard is pleased to present Shelter Is, an exhibition that brings together the work of nine artists whose practices consider the physical and psychological function of shelter, its construction, and its improvisational nature. The works on view also explore questions of who seeks shelter, and for what reasons—political, socioeconomic, or environmental.

 In its most basic form, the notion of shelter evokes four walls, a roof, and a floor. Sizes vary, as do the materials, location, and durability of the structure. Sometimes the shelter is made from scratch. Sometimes it is found. It may serve as a temporary refuge, or as permanent residence. The works in this exhibition consider traditional models of shelter but also provide a lens in which the architecture of shelter can be extended beyond conventional perceptions of home, relief, and sanctuary.

 The relationship between the body and shelter is a central theme of this exhibition. Lucy + Jose Orta’s Body Architecture sculptures—portable tent structures affixed with fragments of recycled garments—serve as a tool for the moving body, the nomad or refugee. In a selection of performance stills from her Disappearance Suit series, Maria Gaspar examines how marginalized identities exist and endure within political and public space. In these works, the body hovers between the visible and invisible, camouflaging as necessary into the rural landscape. Thilde Jensen’s photographic series The Canaries provides a glimpse into a subculture of people who have eschewed the traditional model of shelter due to the rare illness multiple chemical sensitivity, in which the immune system is compromised by exposure to everyday chemicals, including those found in building materials. Documenting the artist’s own experience with this rare illness, the photographs depict the lives of those who have modified and adapted their living environments as a means of survival.

 What role do social histories and memory play in the praxis of shelter? Heather Hart’s monumental rooftop installation, which gallery visitors are permitted to walk on top and inside of, considers the social histories of home and sanctuary as well as the familial tradition of carpentry that, like heirlooms, is passed down from generation to generation. This installation will be activated by a series of site-specific performances curated by the artist throughout the exhibition. A collaborative work by Lucia Thomé and Mariel Capanna serves as a monument to the memory of Capanna’s late mother. The nearly to-scale reincarnation of the Renault automobile she was once photographed against has been fabricated by the artists so that it can be taken apart and reconstructed in time and place again and again. Jumana Manna’s film Wild Relatives portrays shelter not as a singular physical structure but as a network comprised of both individual and institutionalized efforts to preserve land and agriculture. The film focuses on the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), an Aleppo-based agricultural research center that was forced to relocate to Lebanon due to the Syrian war and that was the first institution to withdraw seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, where seeds from across the world are stored in case disaster strikes. Also woven into the film are the stories of Youseff, a Lebanese farmer who rents his land to supplement the supply of seeds to ICARDA, and Walid, a Syrian refugee and organic farmer who has created his own network of community-based seed-sharing libraries.

 The tension between public and private space is another underlying theme of this show. Erin Diebboll’s large-scale drawing Fences depicts the borders of property within a single city block. The architectural style of the fences varies, as do the sizes of the lots, articulating the relationship between landownership and socioeconomic status. Installed in the backyard of ArtYard’s residency is Lucia Thomé’s Greenware—a temporary structure made from clay and encased in a greenhouse that protects it from the vagaries of the climate while also allowing for it to be modified and maintained by the artist. This installation will mark the first time in which ArtYard has activated this outdoor space as a platform for public art viewing and engagement.

 Shelter as universal/as discourse, a library of found images and unauthored structures, accompanies the exhibition. Like a word said over and over again, these images and models function as a detournement, a way of visually unspooling the anatomy of shelter, its universality, and the ways in which it can be found in unexpected places.

 This exhibition was first set to open on May 2, 2020, but was delayed due to COVID-19. Now months into a global pandemic in which housing insecurity, financial instability, and a disparity in access to resources is a reality for millions of people across the planet, the need to collectively consider the right to shelter and security is more necessary than ever.

September 17, 2020

Tiona Nekkia McClodden Sept 30 in Zoom

Tiona Nekkia McClodden will present a lecture in the Mason Gross Art + Design Visiting Artist Lecture series:

Wednesday, Sept 30 at 7 PM EDT
Tiona Nekkia McClodden
(For Zoom link: check your Rutgers email or submit a request to

DID YOU KNOW? Interesting tidbits about Tiona Nekkia McClodden:

1. Tiona said, "This is very different from the work people are maybe looking for from me. But this is work that I needed to do in my life."

2. Once in a daze, the artist handed a JSTOR article to the guides of a holy shrine upon admission.

3. As a kid, Tiona was a nerd and spent much time in the library.

4. The artist considers her first personal decolonization project to be to decolonize European religion, which she refers to as "the tool that was put into me without consent, working its way through my genealogy."

Tiona's response to recent conversations around restitution and the demand to return Nigerian objects: "I’m humbled, because what I’m confronted with is that these objects were taken, and yet here we have copies—maybe not as precise as the ones in Detroit, but here, nonetheless, and they are very much active."

6. In May 2019, Tiona said that she wants to go to Detroit to tell the objects what she's done, as she feels the objects are only being talked about but no one is talking to them.

Image description: Tiona Nekkia McClodden, I prayed to the wrong god for you, 2019, stills from the six-channel color HD video component of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising twelve objects.
(image and text source: Artforum)

September 16, 2020

Barbara Madsen Faculty Lecture

Barbara Madsen, Associate Professor in Mason Gross School of Art + Design Print presented a lecture in the virtual Visiting Artist series tonight in Zom.

Madsen present works that showed her undeniable affinity for color, particularly orange. The artist even shared the origin of the color orange's place in her practice: when cautionary street wayfinding changed from red to orange, Madsen changed her whole color set. Madsen's relationship to public signage wasn't limited to in-studio responses. She once designed a series of anti-hate billboards (image at bottom) with her personal email address. The responses ranged from the grateful to haters who missed the point.

Image description: Barbara Madsen, Further Removed 1725, 42 x 56 inches ©2013 (from

Barbara Madsen is an artist and Associate Professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Madsen is known for her work in photography, print, sculpture, and installation. Her vast collections of industrial matter -- spark plugs, machine parts, welding masks, light switches, rubber, plastic, and photographs from daily observations – serve as the stimulus for her work in print, sculpture, video and installation. Her art employs the tropes of modernism, popular culture and objects that are consumed and discarded creating a mythical narrative using devices that may be sinister, creepy, nostalgic and blithely campy. Color is the sirens song that lures the viewer in.

Her solo exhibitions include the New York Public Library, Pratt Institute, Tyler School of Art, Millersville University, St. Lawrence University, Miami University, University of Delaware, Palacky University-CZ, Graficki Collective-Serbia, Scuolal Internazionale di Grafica-Venice, ULUS Gallery-Serbia, Edinburgh Print Gallery- Scotland.

Above headshot of Barbara Madsen and text below, courtesy Mason Gross Department of Art + Design.

Madsen has had over 100 group exhibitions in: Japan, China, Belgium, France, Spain, Serbia, Germany, Poland, India, United Arab Emirates. Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the New York Public Library, the Lowry Lab Theater in Minneapolis, the International Print Center, New York.
Madsen's works are in the collections of: The Legion of Honor, San Francisco Museum of Art; Firestone Library, Princeton University; Swarthmore College, Lafayette College, New York Public Library; Library of Congress; Dartmouth College; University of Sharijah, United Arab Emirates; Guanlan Art Center, Shenzhen, China, and the Amoco Corporation.

e and text below from University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Barbara Madsen, "Revenge Never Ends,"

Artist statement on “Poetic Terrorism: Billboards Against Intolerance”

Through my public billboards and banners I seek to address several social issues: the lack of understanding and empathy for people of differing races and beliefs, and seek to combat hatred and intolerance that is being taught within countries and communities.  My billboards also question the greed of companies at the expense of the environment.  In this paper I will talk about the five public works that I have done since September 11th, 2001, Including works from Newark: “Revenge Never Ends,” with a set of dominoes falling down; the Jersey City billboard “Eye 4 Eye = Blind,” featured one blue eye and one brown eye staring down questioning the logic of retaliation. Madsen did 3 works in the spring of 2005 in Washington DC. “OH!” is an image of a gas mask and smiling face with it’s mouth open wide. The second banner “Fear and Paranoia Win,” utilizes images of a mask, flying objects, and text. The third banner “ Who Decides Our Future?” features a black daisy and gas pipes. Madsen will also introduce new and upcoming billboard projects.

August 17, 2020

MFA '20 Exhibition Catalogue

In the Pull of the Future — Rutgers MFA 2020 Visual Art

View the Rutgers Mason Gross MFA 2020 Visual Art Catalogue below or in the PDF >.
Design by: Sophie Auger & Michael Caudo