(SUMMIT, NJ) -- On Saturday, February 29, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey will open four new exhibitions: Hillerbrand + Magsamen: The Devices Project; Yvette Molina: Big Bang Votive; Elisabeth Smolarz: The Encyclopedia of Things; and Adrienne Wheeler: White Dress Narratives. The opening reception on February 29th from 2:00pm–4:00pm is free for all ages and open to the public. The shows will remain on view throughout the rest of winter and into spring, closing on June 7, 2020.
Hillerbrand + Magsamen: The Devices Project is a multi-media installation in the Art Center’s Main Gallery. The Houston-based artistic team of Hillerbrand+Magsamen is the collaboration of Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen, and their children Maddie and Emmett. Together they create sculpture, installation, performance, video and photographic works that explore our relationship to everyday objects, and how we use them to playfully survive and cope in a world of personal and political turmoil. According to the artists, The Devices Project is “rooted in our society’s ever-growing desire to exercise control over our lives through various devices. Should we constantly look to new technology to fix our problems? Or are there alternatives?” All four family members will be present at the opening reception and the artists, along with their children, will also lead an all-ages workshop called Wands and Crowns: Devices for Play, before the opening reception on February 29. The workshop will run 12:30-2 PM and participants will create their own device—either a wand or a crown—made with found objects. See artcenternj.org for availability and pricing.
Big Bang Votive, on display in the Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery, is a communal storytelling project by Yvette Molina that will evolve over the course of the exhibition. Molina will be in residence in the gallery on Tuesdays, as well as several weekend days throughout the run of the show to engage with visitors and create paintings that respond to their personal stories of love or delight. Starting with approximately 300 panels prepared only with imagery of starry skies, Molina will render images from visitors’ stories as “votives” on the panels. The exhibition also incorporates an audioscape—a surround-sound composition, in collaboration with Joshua-Michele Ross, played on a continuous loop. Five channels of audio placed throughout the gallery will allow the sound to move through the room like a vast cosmos rotating overhead.
Elisabeth Smolarz: The Encyclopedia of Things will be on view in the Marité and Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery I. This exhibition, organized in partnership with Guttenberg Arts, is an ongoing project that spotlights Smolarz’s community based photographic project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. This version, begun in 2017, offers an intimate look at the diverse and populous community of Guttenberg, NJ. Utilizing objects as portals to memories, Elisabeth Smolarz collaborated with individuals in Guttenberg to create shrine-like installations of their own precious objects to tell the story of each individual.
Adrienne Wheeler’s White Dress Narratives will be on display in the museum’s Stair-gazing space. Wheeler is a multi-media artist, independent curator, arts educator, and advocate for social justice who lives and works in Newark. Through her practice, she addresses societal injustices, particularly those affecting the lives of women and children. White Dress Narratives consists of nine cut canvas dress silhouettes, each replicating her mother’s hand-sewn grade school graduation dress. Representing nine generations of Wheeler’s maternal lineage from her great-great grandmother to her daughter and nieces, the dresses are embellished with machine stitching and hand-painted designs that reflect each woman’s story.
About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
For over 85 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center’s renowned Studio School, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year.
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is located at 68 Elm Street in Summit, NJ. Adult and children’s group tours are available throughout the year. Gallery hours: Monday–Wednesday and Friday, 10 AM–5 PM; Thursday, 10 AM–8 PM; and Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM–4 PM. Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours. Visit artcenternj.org for more information.
Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided in part by the Peter R. & Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation; the Wilf Family Foundations; and Art Center members and donors.
PHOTOS: (TOP) Hillerbrand + Magsamen, A Device to Be Heard, 2018, photograph, courtesy of the artists
(BOTTOM) Yvette Molina, Like Being on Lots of Different Planets, 2019, egg tempera on panel, courtesy of the artist