The students participating in the ArtReady Program set off to visit the Cindy Rucker Gallery located at 141, Attorney Street NY. The exhibition, I’m Not Allowed to be Mad, featured works by Crystal Z. Campbell, Joiri Minaya, and Malcolm Peacock. All of the artists in the show challenge a pre-existing history and share their individual stories.
After looking around, students got the opportunity to speak with Malcolm Peacock and ask questions about his artworks. Malcolm spoke about his journey towards becoming an artist, how he sustains himself and his artworks financially, and the implicit themes behind his artworks. Through his work, which is participatory and experiential for the students, Malcolm covers a lot of ground and brings up issues of race, gender, sexuality, history, and the core of his practice. From Malcolm’s artworks and speech, students were able to derive that art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Without a deep understanding of Malcolm’s artwork, one may only make an assumption about the story behind it. With Malcolm’s detailed analysis, students were able to learn that certain stories are neglected by what we know as history and public memory and the best way to express these stories are through artworks.
Our next visit was to Lesley Heller gallery to see Rachelle Dang artworks. The introductory speech by Rachelle reflected her experiences which included her struggles and the advantages of being an artist or choosing the career path. Her sculpture, Uncertain Haven, was made from wood, acrylic spray paint, clay, wire, stained glass, metal, and other materials.
This piece was modeled after an 18th-century French watercolor drawing, which was originally produced to transport living tropical plant species across oceans to Europe and to other colonial territories. This piece made Rachelle feel like she was able to intertwine her ecological, colonial, and personal narratives. Students were able to ask questions and get information about expectations in regard to choosing a career field relating to art. The cabinet resembles a small house with an A-frame structure that alludes to a cage. The leaf forms were placed between the glass panes and the boarded inner chamber of the carrier on one side. Dang made reference to the cabinet structure which was surrounded with an undulating floor of worn and misshapen clay cushions. She further explained that the rigid and cracked surface of the cushions evoke a barren topography while the carrier and its surrounding elements suggest an unsettling landscape of loss and displacement in an Uncertain Haven.