AcademicsNov 4, 2020

— updated Nov 5, 2020

Gallery Class hosts pop-up show

Keren Skeete ’21 explains how she and her classmates put together this fall’s blockbuster art show

by Keren Skeete ’21

On October 21, the Gallery/Arts Administration Class hosted a pop-up artist show — the first immersive event for our community on campus since we returned due to COVID-19. Our show was titled Rare Lineage.

To put this show together, we started by learning about the basics of curating, its meaning, and purpose. Our teacher, Ellie Spangler, introduced us to amazing guest speakers who shared their personal experiences in the field, essential tips, and tricks along the way to help make the show be displayed to its truest potential.

We created a show to highlight artists of color: those who represent marginalized communities and share an aspect of the curator’s identity. We were excited to celebrate different aspects of our identities through our artists. We unveiled their stories by presenting their distinctive and innovative work that represents the exploration of their identities.

As a whole, we aimed to have our audience relate to an identity that is being represented through race, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion, socioeconomic status, and more. The event included a variety of mediums as well, including painting, photography, cake decorating, and filmmaking.

For the show, we divided the work to be able to express our individuality — while remaining connected as a group to maintain a common ground and remain committed to our mission. My favorite part of constructing this show was contacting the artists, requesting the work that illustrated our goals and reflected our mission, forming relationships with our artists, receiving the work, and setting up the art that would best exhibit their artwork.

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Read on for a sampling of each artist’s work, along with a statement from the student curator who chose each artist.

“Rare Lineage” Digital Catalog

Don’t forget to check out the Spotify playlist, curated by our students, and listen to it while you peruse the art.

Emanuel Brown, artist
Shairai Richards, curator

Curator’s Statement: Emanuel Brown is an 18 year old African American male photographer who resides in Berkshire county. He started creating work at 15 during an important part of his life; when he started understanding the importance of race and his community. Photography helped him deal with the mental stress he experienced during that time. Emmanuel gets his influence from movies, black directors, and black youth. Along with Emanuel, I think it is very important to acknowledge and support the work of black artists and black youth. Emanuel explains that many times the black voice is misinterpreted in social media and art and he wants to change that narrative and create work through our perspective. I chose to highlight him because he uses photos to represent how he is feeling about issues that the black community is facing. These pieces are very powerful and share the many stories Emanuel is capturing. I hope these photos resonate with you as much as they did me, and I ask when you admire these pieces to reflect on the stories that are being told in the images.

Grayson Colbert, artist
Dillon Rodgers, curator

Curator’s Statement: I chose Grayson to be my artist because I love how their artwork is simple but makes me feel represented and celebrated. Their artwork has a clear vision of bringing awareness to identities, social, and political activism. Their work is focused on line, shape and color, but they aren’t scared of experimenting with different forms and mediums. I can see the passion that they have for representation and assurance that everyone belongs.

Jess X. Snow, artist
Dillon Rodgers, curator

Curator’s Statement: I chose Jess to showcase their artwork because I loved how the painting made me feel like I was appreciating people who need to be appreciated while also understanding the trauma and oppression the groups had been through. When you look at this artwork, spend your time looking at all the details and not just the main attraction. Jess is an artist, but also a film director, poet, and community arts educator who focuses their artwork on queer asian immigrant stories.

Ben Aqua, artist
Dillon Rodgers, curator

Curator’s Statement: Ben is an artist who immediately stuck out to me. They do photography, make videos, and make clothes. I decided to showcase the photos because I loved how it shows that LGBTQIA+ members can look any way. We don’t need to fit a stereotype, it’s all on the inside. Also this series, Slaysians, represents LGBTQIA+ members who are Asian which I don’t feel like we see a lot in mainstream media.

Kyla Kector, artist
Chelsea Canal, curator

Curator’s Statement: Kyla Hector is a student artist and one of my closest friends. Recently she has been doing most of her work on a canvas with acrylic paint. Kyla has been making art since the third grade and is motivated by her younger self to learn new techniques. The two paintings featured today highlight black women and I hope these paintings challenge you to think of black women in a new light.

Whitney Kelsey, artist
Chelsea Canal, curator

Curator’s Statement: Whitney Kelsey is a student here at MHS and is also a good friend of mine. She utilizes a diversity of mediums when creating her pieces. I chose to highlight her work because I feel that she truly embodies a well rounded artist who is not afraid to try new things. I hope that when you view her work you can recognize her craftsmanship and her attention to detail.

Jessica Jackson, artist
Kennedy Simeon, curator

Curator’s Statement: Jessica Jackson is an artist who describes her art as “portraiture but exclusively through a black lens”. She commenced her love for art at the age of four by drawing on restaurant tablecloths and offering them as “tips” to the waiters. Jessica appreciates her creative freedom at that age and maintains that mindset while creating art today. As the pieces being presented today Jessica says “I think the pieces of the astrology collection are very indicative of what my style is and it says a lot about me in its depiction of duality.”

Kingsley Dzade, artist
Kennedy Simeon, curator

Curator’s Statement: Kingsley Dzade is a young and vibrant contemporary Ghanaian artist born in Adidome, Volta Region. He is a painter who believes in channeling his skills into memories that will endure. Kingsley’s work is a clear reflection of his society and themes run around the quest for social equality. He specializes in portraits, still life, and landscapes. Kingsley states he is “motivated to paint out the pain that bedevils our society. I want to use my art to the fullest and benefit humanity.”

Alexa Meade + Jon Boogz, artists
Keren Skeete, curator

Curator’s Statement: Alexa Meade is an artist that specializes in a style of painting that transforms the 3- dimensional world of reality into what appears to be a 2-dimensional representation of itself. Her work is featured in this short film written, directed, and choreographed by Jon Boogz. Movement artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck deliver performances that speak in powerful protest to the gun violence haunting American society today. I chose this piece to shine a light on the issues happening today especially the violence against black people. People like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain and so many others that may not always be mentioned in the media have been taken from their families too soon. I hope this piece inspires you to be active in the BLM movement so that we can continue to fight for justice together.

Dwight White, artist
Keren Skeete, curator

Curator’s Statement: Dwight White is an artist who lives in Chicago and whose work is inspired by his daily interactions with everyday people and other artist’s works. His work is a form of spontaneous realism. I chose these pieces because I believe they are a great representation of the black voice and also give off a powerful yet raw feeling. I hope his pieces make you think about evolving, growing, and fighting for something bigger than yourself.

Kidist Mekonen Fesseha ’22, artist
Keren Skeete, curator

Curator’s Statement: Kidist Mekonen Fesseha is a student artist here at Miss Hall’s who specializes in photography, specifically portraits. In these pieces, she chose to highlight black women at our school to be a part of her Black History Month project. As a black woman myself, I chose these pieces because they made me feel proud about who I am, my culture, and my history. When I see these photos the phrase “unapologetically black” comes to mind. I hope you can appreciate these pieces for their beauty especially from the melanin that shines through in these photos.

Jelezce Bristol, artist
Alessandra Alicea, curator

Curator’s Statement: Jelezce Bristol is an edible art designer. She works with many different forms of desserts and can transform a regular cake to an extravagant piece. She attended Johnson and Wales University, where she earned her degree in Baking and Pastry
Arts , as well as Food Service Management. Jelezce is a proud owner of PurpleFizzSweets where she creates custom cakes, as well as other forms of desserts. I have a personal connection with Jelezce and would love to see her artwork acknowledged by all. She is a great pastry artist and has inspired me to go to culinary school in the future.

Viola Quiles ’23, artist
Alessandra Alicea, curator

Curator’s Statement: Viola Quiles is a local artist, residing in the town of Dalton. She has recently been in the process of discovering her voice while making original artwork. This piece is a collage celebrating her Puerto Rican heritage. They include slides, taken by her Grandmother, that she found of her family in Puerto Rico. She hopes that her pieces convey a story of immigration, the beauty of Puerto Rico, as well as the story of her lineage.

Linda Ripley, artist
Emma Adelson, curator

Curator’s Statement: Linda Ripley's style of photography uses juxtaposition and themes viewers may find odd or unsettling as a way to lead viewers to question their own thoughts. She uses makeup, clothing, and location as key factors in her art. Her art represents different parts of her life or what she is experiencing most prominently. Linda has made art surrounding the topic of Covid 19 and the unsettling and unnerving feeling it left many people; she has also used art to represent the feeling of nostalgia as she explores colleges. The pieces I chose are excellent examples of how she expresses her style and identity through her work.

Hadear Rizq, artist
Emma Adelson, curator

Curator’s Statement: Hadear blends her many talents in studio art to create pieces that never fail to catch a viewer's eyes. As a fellow art student working alongside Hadear for two years, I have been able to understand and view her artistic process; I have seen her create extremely realistic pieces spanning from still life to portraits. One of Hadear’s biggest inspirations is a Morrocan artist named Chaibia Talal. Hadear says “She taught me to be authentic and to show my true colors onto a canvas.” The pieces chosen really represent how Hadear views her own identity when translating herself to art.