(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Beginning Thursday, June 28, 2012, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Gallery 51 will present VS., a solo exhibition of artwork by Ven Voisey. The public is invited to attend a free opening reception in conjunction with the kickoff celebration of DownStreet Art 2012, on Thursday, June 28, 6-9 p.m. The exhibition marks a farewell to Voisey, who recently was awarded a year-long residency in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program in Roswell, N.M. Voisey came to North Adams nine years ago to manage the Contemporary Artists Center.
The artwork presented in VS. incorporates a wide range of media, including drawing, sculpture and photography (both found and original), sound, video and installation. All of the works find their roots and inspiration in the realm of argument, opposing forces and contrarian behavior. Archetypal struggles such as human vs. wilderness, man vs. himself, and sacred vs. profane, weave their way into the fabric of this exhibition.
Voisey said, “This is an exhibition made up not of black and white struggles, but of gray complexities: both internal and external forces, physical and conceptual clashings. Rather than banging my head out of frustration, I’ve found this continual tension to be a fertile hunting ground for insight and poetry.”
Included in the exhibition is a piece entitled ritual object/item #01203001. It depicts a 5-foot-tall, illuminated photograph of a young woman displaying the skin of a coyote draped over her forearm. Originally, this was a photo taken by a seller on Ebay and its intended use was to let potential bidders know what they were bidding on.
“I often find myself attracted to the unintentional aesthetics of Ebay images, and have a collection of them,” Voisey said. “I found this image to be particularly intriguing. The young woman’s formal posture and blank stare made it seem as though she was presenting the skin as part of some obscure ritualistic practice…and, well, I guess she is.”
A slideshow of photographs entitled The Ship and the Whale features a rotating cast of individuals wearing a ship and a whale mask carrying on with domestic activity. “We’re all ships or whales at one point or another,” Voisey explained. “While eating dinner, doing the dishes, watching television or brushing our teeth, we’re battling, wrestling, embracing, passionately seeking, dominating, retaliating – sometimes it’s difficult to discern which is the primary action.”
A centerpiece of the show is a 20-foot-plus-long creature, part oroboros, part German Shepherd, part Muppet, entitled Five-Year Plan. This doggish animal lays on a platform, breathing, listening to a collection of people imitating ferocious animal noises and consuming itself.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Voisey graduated with a B.A. in Conceptual Art and Electronic Mediums from San Francisco State University. In 2003, inspired by the accessibility of space to work, an active arts community and a beautiful natural setting with a post-industrial noir hue, he moved to North Adams and has since worked with a spectrum of the area’s cultural institutions.
They include the Contemporary Artists Center, MASS MoCA, Images Cinema, The Clark, and for the past three and a half years, he’s been the gallery manager at MCLA Gallery 51. Simultaneously, he has created and exhibited his own artwork.
Locally, Voisey’s work has been exhibited at the Topia Arts Center, Ferrin Gallery and the Berkshire Museum. Most recently, his work was chosen to be included in the deCordova Biennial at deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass.
This is Voisey’s final exhibition as the gallery’s manager, making it also the swan song to his tenure. He recently was awarded a year-long residency in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program in Roswell, N.M., and will head west this fall, followed by a move a little closer to his home state.
“I will miss North Adams. It’s become a place very special place for me, but I’m also looking forward to what’s next. Regardless, I doubt the Berkshires have seen the last of me,” he said.
VS. runs through July 22, 2012. MCLA Gallery 51 and DownStreet Art are programs of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. MCLA Gallery 51 is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.