Video: Behind the scenes of Rochester Art Center's featured exhibition
AMANDA CURRERI: THE CALMEST OF US WOULD BE LUNATICS
JANUARY 22 - MAY 8, 2016
BURTON & JUDY ONOFRIO GALLERIES
For Amanda Curreri's first solo exhibition in Minnesota, The Calmest of Us Would Be Lunatics emphasizes the active role of the archive, the power of the past to inform the future, and presents a call to action through engagement. Drawing from archival references and materials as well as contemporary content, Curreri’s practice investigates, re-contextualizes, and reflects aspects of cultural production and social histories within actual and constructed radical, feminist, and queer historiographies.
The galleries visually and conceptually correspond with three elements of communication present in the work: language, color, and action. Curreri will present new and recent works including paintings, sculpture, prints, video, and performance. Beginning with an archival room featuring larger-than-life enlargements of documents and materials from the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, the show charts a course that mirrors the artist’s process of discovering past and present models that demonstrate cross cultural, intergenerational and diverse examples of resistance, organizing, ‘the everyday activist’ and the activity of collecting as preservation, and empowered world-making.
The Tretter Collection collaboration offers an intentional decentering of queer history from canonized centers such as New York and San Francisco, to illuminate how Minnesota was and continues to be a site of many ‘firsts’ and pivotal moments in queer history. Curreri describes the artistic decision to play with scale: “Usually, there’s a hierarchy between the viewer and the object: we’re way bigger than a letter-sized piece of paper. I want to amplify this letter-sized document, so when you walk into the space, you have to deal with this document’s renewed importance. That’s an art tactic—shifting scale.”
Color as surrogate plays a central role in the visual language of Curreri’s work. “The way color formally works, in color theory, is by way of difference. You put two different colors next to one another, and you recognize their properties and learn from them. It activates and energizes synapses in your brain, activating space for difference,” says Curreri.
For this exhibition, a new series of abstract paintings, Eff, will be exhibited around the theme of effigies to various individuals that hold significance for the artist, including the late writer Adrienne Rich, Flo Jo, Tommy Smith and John Carlos. “I think abstraction is really valuable because it can cross the boundaries that language sets up.”
The January 22 opening of Curreri’s exhibition kicks off a series of events through May 2016 at RAC. In March, Curreri will also present an iteration of CLAMS, a series of intimate dinners prepared and hosted by the artist where the public is invited to sign up to participate in a dinner within the exhibition space of mussels inspired by Italian-American Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. The work is as much a catalyst for creating conversation around self-organizing communities, neighborhood education initiatives, and local economies, as it is an excuse to spend quality time with people.
Championing the potential of the past to inform the present—from a cancelled Korean television show named Club Daughters of Bilitis (after the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States formed in San Francisco in 1955) to the Black Lives Matter movement, to ERNEST, a group that employs non-hierarchical collaborative working models—the exhibition and related programming are exercises in exploring and encouraging collaboration, calling on the participation of many additional entities such as c3: Initiative, Portland, OR; Tretter Archivist Lisa Vecoli; Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, a New York-based writer, archivist, and librarian. From an Art and Feminism Wikipedia edit-a- thon, to a Lending Library featuring readings that have informed and inspired Curreri’s work, engagement with the show is fostered throughout, the efforts combining to demystify the process of creating community by incorporating the exhibition itself as a platform for dialogue and connection.
About the artist
Born in Boston, MA, Amanda Curreri is an interdisciplinary artist and educator currently teaching as a faculty member at the School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, in Cincinnati, OH. Her practice focuses on presenting personal and social histories regarding public experiences of intersubjectivity. Informed by social activism and built within the vernacular of visual language, her work creates frameworks for re-thinking power relationships.
Curreri has recently exhibited at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Ortega y Gasset Projects, NY; and the Incheon Women’s Biennale, Korea. She is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship (2009) and a SF Guardian Goldie Award (2010). Curreri holds an MFA from the California College of the Arts, a BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a BA from Tufts University in Sociology and Peace and Justice Studies. Curreri is represented by Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco, CA.
Amanda Curreri: The Calmest of Us Would Be Lunatics is curated by Susannah Magers, RAC Curator of Art and Public Engagement. This exhibition, and auxiliary programming, has been made possible by the City of Rochester, the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB), Mayo Clinic, and Brian Austin, Ph.D., and John Knudsen, M.D.
This post was paid for by the Rochester Art Center.
(Cover photo: Rochester Art Center)