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First Show of the School Year on Display in Mercy Gallery

The school year just started, and already an opening of another kind has taken place as the Richmond Art Center came alive this week with artwork from various exhibitors. 

Howard el-Yasin and Flora Wilds are exhibiting in a show called “Accumulated Proximities” in the Sue and Eugene Mercy Gallery. The opening was Thursday, September 14. 

The show runs in conjunction with two exhibits in the Barnes and Wilde galleries: the Community Art Show, which features art by faculty and staff; and the Emerging Artists and Writers Show, which exhibits student work. The shows end October 24. 

Mercy Gallery Director christian.ryan is seeking to bring greater public visibility to the gallery and give students the opportunity to see all kinds of artwork.  

“I want the students to see work that may not immediately be recognizable as art for folks who might not have a lot of experience in all the ways that art communicates, and I want them to be able to see possibilities within themselves,” christian said. “You might not necessarily be a very well-practiced drawer or painter. Painting and drawing is important, lovely, awesome, but we want to be giving them more options and opportunities and possibilities to see new ways of making art.” 

That will happen immediately with the first show. Mr. el-Yasin is an interdisciplinary artist, as well as a curator and educator, from New Haven. One of his pieces stretches nearly to the ceiling of the Mercy Gallery. It is made of dryer lint. Ms. Wilds is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn. She uses second-hand materials, such as previously worn clothing, purses, and quilts, to create her work. 

One of her pieces is colorful pillows in the shape of letters, which spell out “but I’m young,” a phrase that brings her back to her early days. She said she was in her early 20s when she made the piece, and she was figuring out the art world and how to be an adult. 

“There’s a certain level of angst that comes from being in your early 20s and being new at something, especially art-making, especially in the art world,” she said. 

Ms. Wilds said the work represented an expression of frustration, as when hearing, “’You don’t have experience yet,’ … but I’m young … I haven’t done this before. It felt like a phrase I kept coming back to when I was trying to break into the New York art world, break into new careers, do something I had not done, so it was frustration but exuberance, too.” 

On Friday, September 8, Ms. Wilds was in the gallery with two others, one her mother, setting up some of the show.   

“Art making is a never-alone project whether you are collaborating with your friend on a project or collaborating with materials that once belonged to someone else,” Ms. Wilds said. “I do think of the material relations I am constructing as collaborations with people who have made quilts before, giving their work a second chance to be an art object.”  

There are three other shows scheduled for the 2023–2024 school year that will be overseen by christian. 

An exhibit by Maria Chavez will open in the Mercy Gallery in November, and Ms. Chavez will spend November 2–9 on campus as part of the Adolf and Virginia Dehn Visiting Artist Program. Running concurrently with Ms. Chavez’s exhibit will be the Advanced Placement Still Life Show and an exhibit of other student work. Ms. Chavez is an abstract turntablist, sound artist and experimental DJ. These shows will run through January 23. 

A Mercy Gallery show featuring three mixed-media artists — Alana Ladson, Sherese Francis, and Candace Leslie — will open February 1 and run through March 22. A concurrent show in the Barnes and Wilde galleries will exhibit students works from all classes with an emphasis on photography and digital media. The three artists will spend time on campus April 14-19 as part of the Adolf and Virginia Dehn Visiting Artist Program. 

The fourth show, April 4 through May 7, will feature Traci Talasco and run in conjunction with an exhibit of student work from advanced level courses and the College-Level art seminar. Ms. Talasco will be doing some site-specific sculpture pieces. 

There also is a show scheduled for May 15 through Reunion Weekend (June 7–9) called “50 Years of Photography.” It is photography by about seven members of the Loomis Chaffee classes of 1974 and 1975. 

When school is in session, the gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Saturdays. 

Please click here for a video of the show by Howard el-Yasin and Flora Wilds.


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