Friday is the big day. It’s the day of the public opening for the Albright-Knox Northland and the highly anticipated Open House exhibition. Now that work is officially underway at the AK, to create a new and vibrant campus, the Northland is essentially considered the AK’s satellite gallery, where numerous public exhibits and events will be held.
This exhibition features projects that explore how people build connections to others both inside and outside the walls of those structures we call home.
Friday’s interactive opening and event will feature an Open House with installations – Domestic Thresholds by Heather Hart, Edra Soto, and Rodney Taylor – there will also appearances by dancer Naila Ansari, media artists Mani Mehrvarz and Maryam Muliaee, and musician Curtis Lovell, who will present “a collaborative, multimedia art project that will use new media, performance, and live dance to transform the static physical space of the exhibition into a dynamic interactive environment.”
About the exhibits:
Visitors are encouraged to climb on top of and underneath Heather Hart’s life-size rooftop construction, unexpectedly situated at ground level within the gallery. Over the course of the exhibition, this interactive sculpture environment will host performances, discussions, community gatherings, and other events led by local artists, cultural producers, community leaders, and regional historians. Programming is an integral part of opening up this house—which is loosely based on Hart’s childhood home—to wide-ranging conversations and opportunities to share with one another.
Since 2016, Edra Soto has turned her daily dog walks into what she has likened to urban beachcombing: collecting discarded liquor bottles. The artist carefully strips her findings of their branded labeling, and she plays up the simple elegance of the bare bottles by displaying them on decorative panels inspired by the painted wrought-iron screens that commonly adorn homes in her native Puerto Rico. As part of special artmaking activities, visitors will be invited to adorn the bottles with cast-clay seashells, reimagining the definition of beauty in our personal and shared spaces through the creation of these newly enhanced hybrids.
A series of Rodney Taylor’s paintings inspired by homes near his studio on Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo’s East Side complete the exhibition. Like both Hart and Soto, Taylor was interested in revealing the complexities at the heart of such everyday structures. In his paintings, he transforms the architecture of the homes into virtual frames, suggesting buildings under stress. These images confront us with what we regularly see but rarely acknowledge: the burden, unequally distributed in an environment of increasingly stark economic disparities, of maintaining what ought to be a space of sanctuary and shelter.
About the artists and performers:
A native of Buffalo, Naila Ansari is a cum laude graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts Program. She is an original and former principal dancer for the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, which was named one of the “Top 25 Dance Companies to Watch” in Dance Magazine for the 2012–2013 season. Ansari also danced and performed works for the legendary Lula Washington Dance Theatre out of Los Angeles. She has had the privilege of dancing works by Robert Battle, Kyle Abraham, Camille Brown, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Sidra Bell, and Kiesha Lalama, to name a few. Ansari is a Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo State and is in her final year as a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance at the University at Buffalo. Most recently, Ansari has two publications in Theatre Journal and has had her choreography performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Curtis Lovell is an artist born and raised in Buffalo who writes and records music as if each musical piece is its own journal entry, and each performance is an opportunity to sing about what she knows. Influenced by the likes of Jill Scott, Nina Simone, Nat King Cole, and Patsy Cline, Lovell manages to form a new sound that signifies bravery, growth, and authenticity. Lovell began singing at the ripe age of four years old when her mother realized that her child had the gift of perfect pitch. Once she entered high school, she began to take her hobby seriously as she pulled from her life experiences, wins, and losses, to find her signature sound and style. She is actively involved with Ujima Theater Company, which works to provide professional acting opportunities to performers, while preserving the essence of African American theater. Her album Cicada Champagne is available on Sound Cloud and she is preparing to release a new album in January 2020.
Mani Mehrvarz is a media artist and filmmaker. He is the founder and director of Buffalo Documentary Project, and coordinator and filmmaker of the UB Arts Collaboratory. His media installations and documentary films have received recognition around the world, having been exhibited and screened in solo and group shows and juried festivals since 2006. Recently, he has been working on several media art projects with the focus on technologies of recording memory in analog and digital media. He is currently a PhD candidate and instructor in the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo.
Maryam Muliaee is a media artist and researcher living and working in Buffalo. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo, where she has taught courses in video/sound production, as well as film and media studies since 2015. Over the past eight years, she has used video, image, sound, and locative media in several site-specific works, audiovisual performances, installations, and experimental animations/films. Mapping, imaginary maps, and the relation between female body, space, and place are some of the central themes in her works. She has exhibited in 50-plus curated shows, juried festivals, and screening programs in London, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, Poznan, Warsaw, Florence, Brussels, Zagreb, Belgrade, Athens, Buenos Aires, New York, Buffalo, and Tehran. She is also the co-founder of Media-as-things Collective, art director of Buffalo Documentary Project, and co-editor of MAST Journal (NeMLA’s Journal of Media Art, Study and Theory). Muliaee is the recipient of the award of Gender Institute Dissertation Fellowship for her doctoral project research “Feminist Media Archaeologies as Counter-mappings” in 2019–2020.
Open House: Domestic Thresholds by Heather Hart, Edra Soto, and Rodney Taylor
Friday, January 17, 2020
Click here for more information
This exhibition is organized by Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott.
Admission to Albright-Knox Northland is always Pay What You Wish.
612 Northland Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14211
For more upcoming events and exhibits at Northland, click here.
Lead image: Installation view of Edra Soto’s Open 24 Hours. Image courtesy of the artist