At Opalka Gallery, In-faux-structure Marks a New Way of Collaborating

Opalka GalleryOpalka Gallery opened the academic year with In-faux-structure, a group exhibition curated by regional artists Madison LaVallee, Julie Casper Roth and Melissa Sarris.

The genesis for In-faux-structure came from a conversation among the curators who discovered they were thinking along the same lines in the seemingly unrelated projects each was exploring in their own artistic practices. What began as a discussion of physical infrastructure—pipes, roads, structures and networks that fortify our society—quickly shifted to an expanded view of the systems and structures that surround us, from social infrastructure and constructs, to our personal networks and communities.

The title, “In-faux-structure,” refers to false or erroneous meanings related to infrastructure: the ephemeral nature of building materials, as well as ambiguities, ironies and outright injustices related to the ways infrastructure is planned and considered. At every stage—from concept to construction—infrastructure is filled with omissions. These omissions comprise the “faux” of this exhibition. The metaphorical strength of infrastructure is weakened when people and power dynamics are hidden from view.

View a gallery of images from the In-faux-structure exhibition.

Click on the images to enlarge them. 

The exhibition represented a new model for Opalka Gallery in how it mounts group exhibitions. “I am interested in tearing down the walls at Opalka and opening up our space—that is, being responsive to projects and ideas brought to us,” said Opalka Director Judie Gilmore. “When the curators presented their proposed exhibition concept, we were eager to collaborate on a show very different than what we have done in the past. In-faux-structure is an experiment for us in a new way of working with artists and guest curators, and we are thrilled with the results.”

Read “Opalka Gallery’s ‘In-Faux-Structure’ Artists question how structures become facts and who they serve” in the Albany Times Union. 

Through an inclusive, multi-step open call process, the curators solicited proposals for the creation of new—and in many cases—site-specific works with an emphasis on transparency and collaboration. The 16 pieces selected for the show, along with several artist performances and artist-hosted events, range from deeply thoughtful to outright comedic. They commented on gender, stereotypes, biases, loss, absence and detritus. Artists in the exhibition are exploring water access and climate change, road signs, the naming of public spaces, race, class, gender, notions of public vs. private, borders and walls and other issues. The work included spans artistic practices: sculpture, performance, social practice, fiber arts, printmaking and others. Most of the works in the show were created through a collaborative process with other artists or makers.

In a joint statement, the curators said, “This exhibition is about collaboration, visibility and the unseen human work that goes into making infrastructure. We hope that visitors will consider both the issues that artists give voice to as well as the infrastructure behind creating this show.”

Read “Opalka’s latest looks at cracks in physical, cultural structures” in the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

The artists or collaborative teams included are Laura Battle; Melissa Dorn and Kate Schaffer; Kyra Garrigue; Joan Grubin; Sarah Kayhart and Sadie Kenyon; Lucretia Knapp and Lynne Yamamoto; Madison LaVallee and Michael Valiquette; Jeanna Mead; Janice Medina, Björn Bauer and Carolyn DiFiori Hopkins; Oliver Peters; Julie Casper Roth; Claire Sherwood; Barbara Todd; Rebekah Tolley; Jason van Staveren; and Jacqueline Weaver and Michael Cunningham.

Related events from beer gardens with live music to performances, talks and even a bike tour coincided with the exhibition.

In-faux-structure was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. Sustaining support for the gallery is provided by Chet and Karen Opalka.


CHEW, Food as Muse — on exhibit through December 20

For centuries, what we eat has been a muse for artists, both as subject and medium. Today, we find ourselves inundated with an abundance of food photos across social media. What’s our obsession? Chew, Food as Muse, co-curated by Elizabeth Dubben and gallery Director Judie Gilmore, is a playful examination of the role food plays in contemporary culture. Eleven artists explore and comment on identity, culture, community, environment, and politics through food as muse. View a gallery of images from Chew:

Click on the images to enlarge them. 

Read “On Exhibit: Examining the edible at Sage College’s Opalka Gallery in Albany” in the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

In Place of Now

Co-curated by Judie Gilmore, gallery director, and writer and scholar Rone Shavers, In Place of Now showcased emerging and established artists whose work engages in the politically subversive acts of picturing “otherness,” reinventing the past, and reclaiming the future. These themes are common to Afrofuturism, now nearly 30 years old, but when viewed in today’s hyper-partisan social and cultural spheres, they appear more political and less fantastical, more dystopian than utopian, and surprisingly more about us now, rather than an exploration of the other at any other time. That is to say, given our current political climate, works that include or address notions of estrangement seem more relevant, present, and profound than ever before. Within this context, we are interested in artwork that offers new speculations regarding contemporary black identity and explores issues of blackness, which again seems to be in contention.

Read “Opalka’s ‘In Place of Now’ has Afrofuturist focus: Artists in exhibit helping to rewrite narrative on viewpoint” in the Albany Times Union.

Read “On Exhibit: Afrofuturism the focus of ‘In Place of Now’ in the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

The 15th Annual BFA Exhibition

The annual offers a glimpse of the best of what the Sage College of Albany’s Art+Design BFA programs have to offer: Fine Art, Photography, Interior + Spatial Design and Graphic + Media Design. This year the following students were selected to exhibit their work. View a gallery of images from the exhibition:

Click on the images to enlarge them.