Nineteen Williams artists in the Senior Studio Seminar have created a group exhibition that entraps and extends perception. The artworks presented enter into sticky voids: areas of inquiry that resist easy answers and stable meaning. Each work in the exhibition responds in its own way, embracing themes of memory, homemaking, worldbuilding, identity, and time, and opening up new possibilities and entanglements. Diverse media and artistic practices—spanning video, sound, installation, photography, works on paper, and more—gesture toward the expansiveness of the artists’ explorations.

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.

View the virtual exhibition below:

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Ana Delgado Fernández

Man Cave

Artist statement

If you can find me where I hide, I’ll tell you a secret.

Find me and I’ll show you the underside, where all my words connect and you’ll know my language of silence. You might even have made your own, and if you spoke it in passing I might love you easily, maybe even until my limbs fall off. But for now I can show you my memories in their home, safe in the mouth of the beast.

Alexander Joshua

Artist statement

Perception, a series of three works, aims to depict my view of the world better than words ever could. Throughout my time as an artist I have gravitated more and more towards abstraction in an attempt to leave more up to the viewer’s interpretation, and this series is finally approaching the point of abstraction that I’ve been searching for.

The process of creating Perception originated with my desire to branch away from traditional mediums and begin experimenting with digital media. As a starting point, I explored Bauhaus design principles, the history of graphic design, and a variety of retrofuturism posters. In making digital work, I start with a pencil sketch of what I want to create. For this project in particular, the sketches consisted of whatever came to me at the moment and as I was frequently in a coffee shop while doing them, I often found myself capturing what was around: group discussions, others as crowds, and others as unique individuals. Translating each of the sketches to digital illustrations took numerous attempts with each one edging closer to what felt right. In the end, each of these works effectively manages to capture my perception of the world.

Armanis Fuentes

Artist statement

I return again and again to maternity and materiality—to “mater-”, to matter. What is the stuff of homemaking? What media mothered me?

Mops remind me of my mom. When mami returns from the island, she comes back with mops. The good ones. 

There’s a ritual: she runs tapwater into the bucket, dousing it with detergents before dropping the mop in. She hunches over the bucket as her hands wrest the mop from the water, twisting its tendrils, wrenching dry its fibrous hair. The excess water leaves the faint smell of fabuloso on her hands before returning to the bucket. The mop is mom’s drowning accomplice; they clean together. 

where the wind doesn’t hurt is a portrait of my family. Under the wringing whorls of the pink corn moon, carving breath in umbilical root, we are made home.

Calen Geiser-Cseh
Artist statement
My work incorporates algorithmic photography, elegiac q, and poetic writing as mediums to inquire about the intersections of poetry and technology. The realms of poetry and artificial intelligence lend themselves, harmoniously and disparately, to memory re/construction when recollection is disrupted by phenomena such as gentrification, addiction, and childhood trauma. I am most driven by love, longing, and complex nostalgia for my father and my hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

Dara Etienne
Artist statement

The self is a prominent focus in my work. How does one capture the self, as ephemeral and fluctuating as it is, in a physical static object? To this end, I turn to established methods of emotional expression: quilts and books. Quilting has a long history of storytelling; it is a medium for the quilter to record their state of mind, and the events around them, and then share this record with their community. Books are traditionally used for documentation of changes both inside and outside of the self. I explore the intersections between quilting, bookbinding, and their shared ability to serve as archives of personhood. These quilts were made sequentially over four months and are bound chronologically. This object functions as a tracker of time and of my self. In reflecting on this book’s  pages, I was able to uncover aspects and changes in my self that I was not aware of during the quilting process. This book is not only a documentation of my self but also is an object that ascends my self. Thus, I present this book as a higher entity. As viewers interact with this object, I hope they enter a dialogue with this book in regards to time tracking, record keeping, and fluctuations of their selves that are both known and unknown.

Emily Neuner
Artist statement

Throughout my artistic practice, I continually turn to themes of personal mental processes. I am interested in questions of what the inside of a mind could look like, as well as how to articulate those thoughts via drawing. Through research in psychoanalysis and introspection, I drew inspiration from Rorschach inkblot tests and pareidolia, which is the psychological tendency to perceive recognizable visuals in ambiguous forms (e.g. seeing faces in clouds or in this case, ink splashes). This drawing, framed within a window as if it were a landscape to look upon, explores my personal stream of consciousness. By playing with external presentation versus internal preoccupation, I investigate a literal interpretation of the phrase, “a window into the mind.”

Gina Al-Karablieh
Artist statement

Around and within us are obstacles that limit our freedom of movement. We live in cages composed of structures that restrict us, but which we have no choice but to inhabit. Checkpoints are one example of liminal suffocating spaces that native Palestinians unwillingly inhabit. A reflection of segregation and discrimination that they have endured for decades. 

For my piece, I obviously would’ve loved to focus on Palestinian heritage, culture, and rich history, but since mainstream media isn’t showing what’s happening on the ground. I am obliged to show my community in this vulnerable state. I shed light on themes of accessibility, restrictions of movement, selective empathy, double standards, psychological distancing, and more. With the world’s complex events, it’s important for each one of us to reflect on the news we consume and the information that’s fed to us and hidden from us. 

As a Palestinian fighting a rare growing tumor in my body, I keep thinking about how different my experience would have been if I were to pass through these checkpoints to receive proper medical care. Here, my freedom of movement isn’t limited to my body’s capacity to function, it is also rooted in my identity as a Palestinian.

Israeli checkpoints rarely provide accessibility options, so it is quite ironic that one of the reasons I am not able to generate an actual checkpoint experience is for accessibility purposes. View this work as an obstacle in viewing the exhibition; a liminal space that you are forced to encounter. 

Gina Galván
Artist statement
Ever since I can remember when I’ve gone to bed at night I often would find myself traveling to other worlds. Through lucid dreaming I was able to visit places as real as our own waking reality. This film is based on my journeys to these other worlds. Welcome to the realm of spirits!

Helene Ryu
Artist statement

“‘To be’ is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step

At its best, Existential Re-Flux is an illustration of impermanence, a demonstration of connection, and a memorialization of mourning. At its very least, Re-Flux is a personal self-exercise in letting go: of things we make, things we unmake, and the line separating construction and deconstruction. 

This “series” of three dozen charcoal portraits began with a simple impulse to celebrate and connect with people I’m grateful to inter-exist with. As clouds of charcoal dust settled on everything, I grew a hopeful vision of crafting a mini universe: one filled with inimitably loved individuals, each rendered with labor and care. Perhaps more crucially, I wanted the portraits to eventually return to a destined whole; so that together, they would embody a greater emblematic process rather than falling into a canonical fate of awkward immortalization. That’s where the smudging comes in.

Smudging, often cast as an act of destruction, operates here as a performance of empathic destruction. With the collective [de-]construction of realistic portraits into one messy expression, the portraits are guided from a state of delicate individuation into a Zen reminder of the illusion of separateness. Ultimately, A Mini Universe is a fluid attempt at illustrating the capacity within form for emptiness, the essential non-existence of everything.

Indica Indaclub
Artist statement

after a long nite of hookin, i like 2 cum down by sloppin n’ boppin all round da world. da girlz need Miss Indica Indaclub, n’ da feeling iz mutual. i like 2 go where da true beauties dont, where i can smell a severe lack of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent in da air. Williamstown, MA iz in dire need of some C.U.N.T., n’ mama, ima give it 2 U, DOWN. 

(ma mama, Anita Blunt, thee fairy god drag daughter of thee Mary J Blunt, dont kno i like 2 cut loose when she not lookin, tho! just cuz im typically backstage in da club when da girls r puttin on their whore makeup, dont mean ima always b there! Anita shoulda known how precocious, wild, n’ free a shrine 4 a legendary drag queen would b!)

plus, i gotta put me first, cuz i needz da dolls 2 worship me, 2 luv me all nite long. thatz how i gets ma power. i needz da energy generated by da girls basking in my glory so i can transcend n’ boogie ma way 2 Planet Damita Jo. ma promise land calls out 2 me, and, Mary, i gotta go. one sweet day, ill b sloppin n’ boppin all round Planet DJ. 

so, hear ma words, hear ma memories of da club, hear what i kno of da promise land, n’ maybe, just maybe, we gon make it there, sista.

kisses 2 ma kittens,

Indica Indaclub

Javier Robelo
Artist statement

I am deeply intrigued by our relationships with the things we create and collect, how we attach meanings and read stories from them. In museum spaces, art and material culture are often presented as objective evidence, used to generate knowledge and construct a specific image of the past. In my art practice, I seek to mimic how objects on display are actually used for subjective world-building and creative storytelling. 

I see my work as a space for my lived experiences and imagination to intertwine. I use fictional creatures and fantastical landscapes to counter understandings of memory as something other than subjective and deeply personal. Creating a collection of imagined objects allows me to break free from the limiting material nature of collecting practices traditionally used to record this world, and in turn, presents a unique opportunity for me to imagine my own.  I seek to garner the potential of art-making for warm and limitless archiving; this Cabinet of Curiosities is a tool for me to record memories, affects, and personal mythologies. 

Jennifer Lee
Artist statement

In an exploration of space and layering, this series of three drawings weaves together organic and technological forms in detailed clusters. This series constructs comparisons between the naturalistic bodies of insects, fish, and fungi and the retro constructions of 1990s technology. The buzzing of insects and buzzing of phones. The scales of fish and keys on the keyboard. The lines of fungi and cords of controllers. 

Joseph Messer
Artist statement

After Hurricane Katrina, my family documented all damages with a disposable camera, constructing a visual record for our insurance claim. For my photos, I draw from those records not to catalog damages but to form my own record to show what potential can be salvaged from climate disasters. I recontextualize photographs from Katrina, collaging them with satellite images of other hurricanes to hit the US from 2005. I place these collages into water and photograph not just their dissolution, but what beauty is possible within their ruin.

In my portraits, I also scavenge from the past, taking images from art history to form the backdrop for new bodies assembled from many other bodies. As in all my projects, I am trying to recover through novel assemblages, new images of the past, which, in turn, open new possibilities for the present.

Kayla Han
Artist statement

My work undertakes non-traditional forms of storytelling and collective memory, often in relation to my identity as a first-generation Vietnamese-American. I explore these themes most prominently through my work’s materiality, as each object carries endless associations and histories. I am drawn to the capacity of objects in traversing time, uncovering the elusiveness of the past in the present. This fascination with tangible materials is further intensified by an obsession with the tactile sense. Arrangement, accumulation, and aggregation maintain transformative powers in both resisting and reinforcing the connotations behind objects. In invoking the physicality of a material, the textural elements, and the emotions of color, the granularity of memory is nurtured and transformed. 

This transient piece is composed of traditional Vietnamese ingredients, methodically overlapping hundreds of translucent layers of rice paper. In my material experimentation with rice paper, it has transformed from a beloved food, imbued with familial memories, to a beloved medium, as exasperating as it is cherished. By exploring subtle gradations of color and texture, I seek to discover the seemingly inexhaustible physical metamorphoses of rice paper. The short life span of my sculpture is intrinsically linked to the temporality of rice paper, as both material and object will eventually degrade. Sensitive to environmental conditions, the rice paper is at times soft and pliable, and at others alarmingly brittle. This sculpture’s delicate and cascading appearance obscures its substantial weight. Both feminine and fragile, the dyed layers of lavender, rose, and indigo create aqueous contours that drape along the figure. In embodying ambiguous biomorphic forms, it asserts its presence both bodily in form and ephemeral in nature.  

Kelsie Hao
Artist statement
I have always believed that there is magic all around us as long as we are willing to see it. It doesn’t always have to come out the end of a wand or be pulled out of a hat. You can hear words from a poet’s mouth, and suddenly every nonphysical part of you is somewhere else. Magic. You see the words Be Kind and you immediately remember all the times that you weren’t. You then change your behavior for the rest of the day, all because of some silly ink on some silly paper. Magic. You catch a glimpse of that person from across the street and your insides start to float. Magic. It’s everywhere. Just because something is explainable doesn’t mean it’s not mystically meaningful. Five Black Boxes serves as a reminder that even in a world where technology and time have taken away most forms of the unimaginable, magic still exists if you take the time and choose to make it happen.

Noor Alsairafi
Artist statement
Between Two Seas is a collection of memories, old photographs, and places I have been, and have never been in Bahrain. Stories are conveyed in art, but this cluster of drawings and paintings captures only a sliver of my own story. I always wonder whether my recollections are real, or if they have been imagined and falsified through stories I have been told. I try to find the answer by exploring the connection between what I saw, what I heard, and what I remember about the place and the people I love most.

Phillip Pyle
Artist statement

My work approaches analog photography and video as intersecting and plastic mediums. Taking inspiration from the writing of Georges Bataille and José Esteban Muñoz, my practice explores a queer subjectivity where dualities of human/animal, visibility/invisibility, and portraiture/landscape are collapsed.

The Motion of Pixels in Grain (In honor of Samuel R. Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water) is a series composed of six photographs taken at various farms, ranches, and homesteads in Kansas. One image is embedded with a thermal camera and monitor, allowing viewers to interact with the poor moving image inside the gelatin silver print. In collapsing the time and space of rural Kansas with the positions of viewers in rural Williamstown, the series problematizes definitions of ruralness at the same that it signals a potentially queer relationship between technology, the body, performance, animals, humans, and the landscape.

Quinnton Cooper
Artist statement

Sadie Strosser
Artist statement

Harley Nastee, PhD chronicles the life and scientific endeavors of the fictional #radicallyvulnerablesexologist Dr. Harley Nastee, and his entourage of #outandproud queers during their clinical trial of the newly debuted Gaydar.

The experimental video satirizes the commidification of queerness and the constricting language surrounding it. It explores the confused relationship between physical and virtual personas, and fluid conceptions of identity. They say the universe began with a big bang, but what they didn’t tell you was that from stardust came glitter!

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