We have a new batch of North Adams Project artists to introduce, and we couldn’t be more excited! This year’s cohort is a mix of longer-term North Adams residents and newer arrivals. What they have in common is the feeling that North Adams is an especially opportune place to be making work and growing creatively in 2019. Here’s a little information about their practices and goals for the coming year.
With a background in illustration, relief printing, and arts education, Gloria Calderón-Sáenz finds her recent work to include painting and carving on wood as well as mixed media-collages made of discarded packing materials. Gloria’s passion for collaboration between art disciplines has led her to create work with musicians, dancers, and poets. She describes her work as a journal of up-rootedness; a place for ritual and transformation and a tool to ask questions and start conversation.
Since settling into her newly purchased North Adams home and studio, Gloria plans to create a series of woodcuts about the rivers surrounding North Adams, and will continue her series Post Industrial Molas consisting of big format collages and paintings on reclaimed paper. With her work gaining momentum, Gloria hopes to publish a limited edition book about her art and creative practice.
Petros Chrisostomou constructs hybrid spaces, combining the concerns of artist, sculptor and curator. His work, as much sculptural as photographic, draws inspiration from concepts of hyperreality. Petros’ work questions how we interpret objects using a range of incongruous visual clues, obscure constellations of objects and spaces, with symbolically rich contexts.
While based in New York, Petros participated in a Studios at MASS MoCA residency and grew excited about the flourishing creative environment in North Adams. He made the move to North Adams in fall 2018. Petros looks forward to the flexibility to create work on a larger and more ambitious scale, whilst working with local fabricators and artisans in the community to achieve projects that he would not otherwise have the opportunity to make.
In addition to being an artist, Julia Dixon is a creative economy and cultural planning consultant as well as a freelance writer. While Julia is known for self-portraiture, her latest paintings seek to explore absence and presence through a combination of symbolism and realism. She has been working on a protest portrait series since 2017.
As a North Adams resident for nearly a decade, Julia is ready to devote serious time and attention to commissioned portraiture as a second source of income. She looks forward to creating a website that showcases her work and promotes commissions as a service. Julia hopes to move toward more full-time painting as her commission-based work increases.
Danielle Klebes finds that people in flux serve as the main subject of her work. While her paintings are not specifically narrative, they include pictorial clues to the experience of the subjects. The figures, captured in moments of uncertainty and isolation, are close in proximity but emotionally distant. Danielle’s use of cool, colorful, and unnatural palettes highlight disconnection and a lack of intimacy.
Looking forward, Danielle is interested in exploring identity in her paintings, a theme that she finds particularly relevant in North Adams, with its dueling personalities as an ever-expanding art hub and historic blue-collar factory city. The places where those two identities meet (murals on walls of brick buildings) are especially intriguing to her. To Danielle, those spaces serve as a reminder that identity is acquired and changeable versus inherent and permanent.
As a Bahamian-born artist who has chosen to live abroad, Anina Major is interested in migration, displacement, and the relationship between self and place. Working in clay and textiles as well as installation and performance, Anina recreates cultural artifacts and explores the emotional complexities of her own journeys.
In "Sunburst" (pictured), a blowfish-like orb embodies a protective spirit of place. Anina comments, "The abstract object of power and aggression is suspended vertically by net and chain with gravitational balance to suggest a moment of stability."
Anina became interested in North Adams as a possible home base after completing a residency with the Studios at MASS MoCA in summer 2018. She is currently an AIR with the 36 Chase & Barns residency in North Adams, and plans to establish her own sculpture studio after that program ends.
Ariel Rosenblum has been working with textiles for over a decade, in many ways refining her craft and artistic voice. Her practice is informed by research, improvisation, and experimentation, guided by a deep respect for materials. Ariel remains mindful of the fact that her practice was once integral to clothing, warming, comforting, and adorning the body for most of human history. Reflecting on materials and use allows Ariel to explore touch and texture, making objects and wall pieces that aim to illicit a quiet visceral response to their tactility, materiality, and making.
Ariel plans to set up a small studio to produce and sell home textiles, including rugs, blankets, and pillows using regionally sourced wool. She also hopes to create furniture collaboratives with woodworkers. After successfully growing her textile business, Ariel intends to teach textile workshops in her studio for adults and children, but also in collaboration with school and gallery programs in the Berkshires.
As a photographer and painter, Jon Verney sees his creative practice rooted in curiosity, chance, and haptic experimentation. He is most fascinated with exploring material transformation through an alchemical approach to image-making. This approach has led Jon dissect, reverse, and dismantle traditional photographic processes. His images are left to resemble fragmented memories eroding into abstraction, their dissolution suggesting larger forces of flux and change.
After years of deepening his commitment to his practice, Jon feels the next step in his career is to start constructing artworks that are eminently “showable.” Outsourcing labor such as printing and framing to professional shops is something that Jon looks forward to. He feels outsourcing would elevate the presentation and value of his pieces, as well as grant him more time to focus on the creation of the work itself.
Cein Watson believes that sometimes a book needs its own space, or a painting needs its own tea room. Based around this belief, Cien builds architecture based around art objects instead of art objects around architecture.
Cein feels that now is the perfect time in his career to take advantage of all that North Adams has to offer. Seeking grants and applying for public art work projects would help Cein construct spaces for both public and private clients, while simultaneously building the capacity and safety of his North Adams woodworking studio.
Emilee Yawn is an artist and community arts advocate, whose artwork attempts to start a reflective dialogue about our cultural experiences and expectations. Her recent bodies of work are concerned with the themes of movement and density, both physically and metaphorically. Emilee’s collage work plays on the limitations of two-dimensional materials and gives a new meaning to “found imagery.” The potential she sees in the City of North Adams is among her top passions. Through her involvement with the Finding North Adams project Emilee discovered a disconnect between the local and art communities, and she was eager to help make a change.
Currently, Emilee works in the North Adams Kiosk, a project designed to encourage tourists to explore North Adams. She hopes to make this project into a joyous, collaborative part of the community by giving art tourists a reason to discover all that North Adams has to offer.