For the past year and a half, we’ve learned to keep our perception of art confined to whatever size screen we are using to view it on. With the pandemic making so many gatherings feel unsafe, people tended to stay at home instead of taking any risk. Large portraits were confined to the space that an iPhone has to give, and the feeling of being near what we are seeing remained out of our grasp. While the pandemic is by no means over, vaccines and a year’s worth of experience have gotten more people to start doing things again. If you’re looking for something, UMass Boston may have just the place for you.
The University Hall Gallery, which reopened on Sept. 7, presents artwork in an accessible way for the public. They have just opened up their first in-person exhibition since the start of the pandemic. It is titled "In Place" and features many works of art made during the pandemic. The exhibition centers around communication, vulnerability and interconnectivity, and uses objects and experiences to do so. In other words, "In Place" is a direct response to the isolation and loneliness that many felt during quarantine, along with the joy that comes with finally being able to leave your home again.
The exhibition includes works by Danielle Abrams and Dave Wade, Alexi Antoniadis, Kevin Clancy, Corey Escoto, Samantha Fields, Danielle Freiman, Jillian Freyer, Leah Piepgras, and Chanel Thervil. These artists all created drastically different works of art using the freedom that they were given. For example, Danielle Freiman made a text-based work of art that reads “IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU”. Jillian Freyer’s contribution to the exhibition is photographing while Corey Escoto crafted sculptures—all available to see in person!
If you’re looking for an exhibit that is different from the ones listed above, you’re in luck. For example, Chanel Thervil’s "Quarantine Self-Care Portrait Series" of artist Mel Taing is a series of Instagram Live interviews that originally debuted online. In the interviews, Thervil asks Taing and other collaborating artists of color questions like, “How do you care for yourself?”. The questions are designed to be empathetic and encourage interesting answers.
Samantha Field’s installation is constantly adapting. Viewers are encouraged to sit down and stitch a dyed tapestry, adding to the artwork they initially viewed. It is meant to use this repetitive action to encourage mindful meditation. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy simply viewing works of art, it might be nice to contribute to this work of mass contemplation.
The University Hall exhibit includes even more to see and experience. For September, it was available exclusively to students of UMass Boston. This may or may not change in October, but to make sure everyone who wants to can see these works of art, the exhibition has been documented and posted on social media.
The gallery is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except on national holidays). If you are not comfortable going out to see this exhibit due to pandemic-related concerns, that’s completely understandable. For those who want to see this exhibition in person, it’ll be glad to have you. While the collection of art focuses in part on isolation, they also encourage the public processing of emotion. That is a theme that probably resonates with many in today’s world. If you want to see how others have tried to capture and express it, then you know where to go.