(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — C. Ryder Cooley, an interdisciplinary artist, musician and performer, has been named manager of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ MCLA Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams. Cooley has performed at the college and downtown for several years at a wide variety of events, including those for MCLA Presents!, DownStreet Art and MCLA Gallery 51.
A working artist for more than 20 years, Cooley has served in various capacities within the nonprofit arts sector – from curating community exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library to teaching youth programs at Time and Space Limited in Hudson, N.Y.
“I feel like I already belong here, having participated in residencies at the Beaver Mill, exhibits at MCLA Gallery 51, the Tricks of the Trade series, and performing for MCLA Presents! and at events for DownStreet Art,” Cooley said.
In addition, Cooley has worked with MCLA students as a visiting artist, giving lectures, workshops and creative coaching, and has collaborated with Melanie Mowinski, an assistant professor of art at the college and the founder of the PRESS gallery in downtown North Adams.
“My relationship to the region stretches back to 2005, when I exhibited at the CAC in Beaver Mill for the first time,” Cooley said. “This community has always felt like a second home to me, and I’m very excited to become more involved.”
Cooley’s vision for the near future includes bringing in an eclectic mix of work by national and international artists.
“I’ll also be drawing from the pool of artists that I know in the Hudson Valley, the New York Capital District, San Francisco Bay Area and New York/Brooklyn areas. I hope to have some shows that will respond to themes of ecology, identity/queerness, as well as performance/installation documentation, artifacts and residue,” she said.
Other plans include some cross-programming with MASS MoCA and other arts organizations in the Berkshires.
“I think it’s important to get as many different people represented by the gallery as possible,” Cooley continued. “I’d like to show work that pushes the edge for both the students and the community.”
Cooley’s first show will be the upcoming “100 Hours in the Woodshed IV,” MCLA Gallery 51’s collage biennial, which she will co-curate with Susan Cross, curator at MASS MoCA.
A resident of Hudson, N.Y., Cooley plans to move to North Adams. Cooley received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Sculpture, and an MFA in integrated electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In early 1993, she moved to San Francisco, Calif., and became an active member of the local art and music scenes.
She has performed and collaborated with several bands including Fall Harbor, the Jug Stompers, the Darklings, Corner Tour and Down River. Cooley has participated in a wide variety of exhibitions, performances, collaborations, public works and educational projects. Her work has been presented at locations including White Box and Exit galleries in New York City.