(SUMMIT, NJ) --The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities for use in funding public programming in support of the Art Center’s fall 2021 exhibition, The First Water Is the Body. The exhibition, which will open October 9, will feature work by contemporary female Indigenous artists and makers from North America and will explore ideas of reciprocity and accountability to place, lands, and waters. The exhibition’s guest curator is Maria Hupfield, an artist and educator who is Anishnaabek of Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, Canada.
“In addition to the grant supporting our fall programming that accompanies this exhibition, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities also previously supported us with an incubation/research grant,” said Sarah Walko, Director of Education and Community Engagement. The incubation grant allowed VACNJ to form an advisory committee to help with the vision, scope, and content of the programming. The panel included Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee), filmmaker and founder and director of AMERINDA Inc.; David Bunn Martine (Shinnecock/Montauk/Chiricahua Apache), director and curator, Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum, Shinnecock Reservation; and Dennis RedMoon Darkeem (Yamasee Creek-Seminole Native American), artist and art educator. “This was an essential part of our planning for the programs, and we look forward to sharing it and connecting with communities in the fall,” remarked Walko.
The programming created in support of the exhibition will be focused on introducing, educating, and enriching the understanding of Indigenous history, values, culture, and beliefs. To do this, the Art Center will hold a public opening ceremony on October 9, where a land blessing will be held to recognize the Lenni-Lenape peoples who once inhabited the land that is now New Jersey, including the land on which the Art Center resides. The Art Center will also host the Silvercloud Singers, an intertribal Indigenous American singing and dance troupe who “weave the traditional with the contemporary of Indigenous song and dance.” Programming will include observation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day followed by a series of workshops throughout the duration of the exhibition led by our Art Educator in Residence, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem. Additionally, a series of film screenings and discussions, author and scholar talks, and a poetry/spoken word event will be held over the course of the exhibitions run at the Art Center.
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. Gallery hours: Monday–Thursday, 10:00am - 8:00pm; Friday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; and Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am - 4:00pm. Admission must be reserved in advance. Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours. Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided in part by the Peter R. & Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation; Wilf Family Foundations; and Art Center members and donors.