Public Reception: Thursday | 01.30.20 | 4:30–7 PM
Marlon Forrester, Rixy Fz, Zach Horn, Andrew Mowbray, Ngoc-Tran Vu, Aiden Nguyen of Vănguard, Cristi Rinklin, Susie “Cookie” Smith, Deandra Shannon Spence, Joanna Tam, Jamal Thorne, and Joe Wardwell
About the exhibition:
Inspired by requests from our visitors to highlight more local artists, Dot Now presents artworks made by artists living and/or working in our neighborhood of Dorchester. The exhibition seeks to foster a stronger sense of community between artists in the area and UMass Boston while celebrating their work within the Greater Boston Area. Dot Now gathers a set of intergenerational artists who are working in a variety of media, connected through their locale and shared social concerns, but distinctive in their artistic practices and personal narratives. Supporting programming will look at the ways in which artists in Dorchester are self-organizing to support and sustain the arts in their community by creating spaces, discourses, and contexts for their work and that of their peers. The artists that we have worked with during the development of this exhibition have proven to be closely interconnected, with many artists supporting one another’s work through events, studio programs, and exhibitions.
Known somewhat ironically as “The Dot,” Dorchester is Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhood. The borough’s complex demographics, with a mixture of identities and international backgrounds intrinsically influenced our selection of artworks for Dot Now. African Americans make up the largest segment of the population of Dorchester by race (43% as of 2010), alongside prominent Vietnamese, Caribbean, and Latinx communities. The complexity of the neighborhood has led to an intersectional group of artists. For this reasons, the exhibition does not attempt to locate a single take on what it means to be an artist based in Dorchester, nor is it meant to act as a definitive gathering of different practices or trends taking place in the area. Instead, we have chosen to present a broad variety of artworks and artists with similarly diverse perspectives and techniques. Through their practices, these artists confront issues such as identity politics, globalism, and social practice, among others.
In an homage to her grandmother, Susie “Cookie” Smith’s sculpture Cara’s House renders a model of a proposed cultural center that Smith envisions founding in the home of her grandmother that Smith’s mother now owns. Located in Hayneville, Alabama, the house sits on a parcel of cleared land that is located adjacent to her sister, Rosie Steele’s farm. This is of historical significance because this land is located on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. On March 22, 1965, Steele's property served as Campsite #2 for marchers walking 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, a protest that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year, upholding racial minorities’ constitutional right to vote under the 14th Amendment. Local artist and designer, Aiden Nguyen, presents the full volume of the series of zines entitled Vănguard, a project he co-founded with Thanh Mai. The collaborators developed the zine to create a safe platform for the visibility and individuality of self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/trans*, and queer (LGBTQ) artists and writers in Vietnam and across the Vietnamese diaspora. In two new projects by Andrew Mowbray, the artist sources materials from Dorchester Bay and his expansive collection of milk-crates to discuss issues of locality, utility, and design. This includes an architectural intervention stretching from floor to ceiling in the gallery that will tell a partial history of sixty years of milk-crate design. In another new installation entitled Make a Wish for Dorchester, Joanna Tam will share wishes from Dorchester residents, allowing visitors to share their thoughts on how to create a better neighborhood for themselves and others. We will also be including a portrait by the youngest artist to ever show at University Hall Gallery, Deandra Shannon Spence, who is a current student at the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, a tuition free charter public school located in Fields Corner. These projects and others will be complimented by programs that will activate the space, allow for performance based works, and help contextualize the exhibition within the art scene of Dorchester.
There are several arts organizations, institutions, and studios that have both public and private facing programs in Dorchester whom we interfaced with during the development of this exhibition, including the Dorchester Art Project, Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI), the African Winter Studio, Humphreys Street Studios, Pearl Street Studios, and the Strand Theater. We would like to thank them as well as the many artists, curators, and residents that we met with during the development of this exhibition who continue to champion and sustain the arts in Dorchester.
Dot Now is made possible with generous support from the Paul Hayes Tucker Fund, a gift from The Paul and Edith Babson Foundation, and in kind support from the College of Liberal Arts at UMass Boston.