Annual collaboration between WCMA and the college art department features the work of 19 graduating artists
Also on view is an installation by Kailyn Gibson ’22 complementing her Art History thesis
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is pleased to present a summer-long celebration of graduating students’ art and research in the form of the annual senior studio art exhibition as well as a special installation curated by Kailyn Gibson ’22 that illustrates themes in her Art History honors thesis.
“This year’s presentation expands on our vital collaboration with art department students and faculty in exciting ways, showcasing the possibilities of the campus art museum as a learning laboratory for the next generation of artists and scholars,” states Pamela Franks, the Class of 1956 Director.
Searching for Sticky Voids presents work by nineteen graduating artists as the culmination of their Senior Studio Seminar experience: Alexander Joshua, Ana Delgado Fernández, Armanis Fuentes, Calen Geiser-Cseh, Dara Etienne, Emily Neuner, Gina Al-Karablieh, Gina Galván, Helene Ryu, Indica Indaclub, Javier Robelo, Jennifer Lee, Joseph Messer, Kayla Han, Kelsie Hao, Noor Alsairafi, Phillip Pyle, Quinnton Cooper, and Sadie Strosser.
This year’s seminar was led by Williams College assistant professor of art Sarah Rara, herself a multidisciplinary artist working in video, sound, writing, and performance. The artworks presented enter into sticky voids: areas of inquiry that resist easy answers and stable meaning. The exhibition is conceived around the idea of entrapping and extending perception, and the works on view embrace themes of memory, homemaking, worldbuilding, identity, and time. Diverse media and artistic practices—spanning video, sound, installation, photography, works on paper, and more—gesture toward the expansiveness of the artists’ explorations.
The show opens Friday, May 13, 2022, with a reception from 5–8 p.m. A 3-D virtual model of the exhibition, artist statements, photos of each artist and their work, video art elements, and more will be available on the museum website in the coming weeks.
Working in Desire: The Political Economy of Black Feminine Labor is a compendium of Kailyn Gibson’s Art History thesis, “Working in Silence: Forbidden Desire and Desirable Work in Blake and Stothard.” Gibson has selected eight objects from the museum collection that complement and illuminate her research, including works by José Borges, Willie Cole, Joseph Grigely, Luis Alfonso Jiménez, Charles Prendergast, Clara E. Sipprell, and Kara Walker.
Gibson writes: “In my search for representations of powerful, heroic Black women within the museum’s collection, I was confronted with the repeated sexualization of bodies that were muscled, moving, and laboring. Black female productivity—as illustrated through the figure that I identify as the laboring Black Venus icon—sustained the political economy of plantations emerging in the ‘New World’ during the eighteenth century. Through the increasing industrialization of the colonial project and the mass circulation of her image, the sexualization of the icon becomes heightened. My investigation into the mutability of this symbol prompted questions about what it means for one’s work to be perceived as desirable and, further, what it means when your desirability is rooted in your potential capacity for output.”
The selected works explore how artists have grappled with the Black Venus icon and how modern notions of intimacy, kinship, and Black feminine desirability are explored through her likeness and can function as forms of labor. More information about Gibson’s thesis, including related imagery and poetry, will be published on the museum’s website for those interested in learning more.
Searching for Sticky Voids and Working in Desire: The Political Economy of Black Feminine Labor are on view through Sunday, August 21, 2022. WCMA is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Searching for Sticky Voids
This annual exhibition is part of an ongoing collaboration between WCMA and the Williams College Art Department. Special thanks to Professor Sarah Rara, the leader of this seminar and Assistant Professor of Studio Art, and teaching assistant, Chris Fernald, MA ’22. The exhibition was organized by Mellon Curatorial Fellows Destinee Filmore, MA ’24, Jordan Horton, MA ’23, and Nicholas Liou, MA ’24 with Brian Repetto, Chief Preparator, and Noah Smalls, Director of Exhibitions & Collection Management.
Working in Desire: The Political Economy of Black Feminine Labor
This exhibition was organized by Kailyn Gibson ’22 as a compendium of her Art History thesis, “Working in Silence: Forbidden Desire and Desirable Work in Blake and Stothard,” with the support of Elizabeth Gallerani, Curator of Mellon Academic Programs, and Destinee Filmore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow and MA ’24.
About Williams College Museum of Art
The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) creates and inspires exceptional experiences with art that are integral to a liberal arts education, lifelong learning, and human connection. The Museum is a partner in nurturing the cross-disciplinary arts in support of a liberal arts education; advancing the academic and experiential preparation of arts leaders; enriching the cultural ecosystem; engaging artists; and creating a shared learning community that spurs new thinking, creative making, and civic engagement. Located on Main Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on the Williams College campus, the museum draws on the collaborative and multidisciplinary ethos of the surrounding college to enliven the more than 15,000 works in its growing collection. Admission is free. For current hours and more information, visit artmuseum.williams.edu.