The newest Moss Arts Center exhibition explores the many ways photography is used to communicate — not only through visual aesthetics, but the delivery of more profound personal, cultural, and societal messages.
Featuring the work of artists Leslie Hewitt, Tarrah Krajnak, and Rodrigo Valenzuela, “Messengers” opens on Thursday, Feb. 1, with a reception from 4-6 p.m. in the center’s Grand Lobby. Valenzuela will also participate in an artist talk on Friday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. in the Moss Arts Center’s Cube. The galleries and all related events are free and open to the public.
The title “Messengers” refers to the transcendental nature of photographic images to traverse time and space by capturing the moment in static form. Photography acts as a conduit for the artists’ hybrid interdisciplinary approaches, enabling them to convey rich and multifaceted narratives, evolving through their formal and material languages. Hewitt, Krajnak, and Valenzuela transmute the traditional boundaries of photography by juxtaposing constructed and archival images and abstracting the documentary and spatial attributes of images.
Combining photography and sculpture, Hewitt explores still life from a post-minimalist perspective, examining fluid concepts of time and shifts in perception and space while navigating between the illusionary aspects of photography and the tangible weight of sculpture. This exhibition includes arrangements of her “Achromatic Scales” and “Chromatic Grounds,” a subset from the “Riffs on Real Time” series. Interested in the mechanisms behind the construction of meaning and memory, Hewitt uses geometric compositions to distill seemingly ordinary materials, including the exploration of light, hue, and tone on familial and socio-politically charged objects.
A multidisciplinary artist working across photography, performance, and poetry, Krajnak focuses on the craft and material process of photography, printing all her own photographs. She uses analog cameras as a tool to examine ties between her body; her birthplace of Lima, Peru; and the invisible histories of both. Krajnak’s life experiences as an Indigenous transracial adoptee connect with much broader systems of socioeconomic inequality, corruption, and instability, and she employs her own transracial body, performing archival interventions to make visible marginalized histories and bodies hidden in the archive. “Messengers” features three series of works from Krajnak – “Black Messengers,” “Automatic Rocks/Excavation,” and “Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes.”
Valenzuela’s work traverses photography, video, and installation, merging his interest in art history, architecture, the concept of work, and the realities of laborers. Valenzuela builds scenes in his studio, often working with simple building materials, and his compositions resemble miniature ruins built from studio detritus. The resulting monochrome photographs constantly shift between flatness and architectural space and between documentary photography and fiction. This exhibition features his newest series, “Garabatos,” which depicts his tableaux of wood and plaster sculptures painted white. Each image is meant to evoke figurative gestures of insults from varying nationalities, i.e. “flipping the bird.” Valenzuela is interested in abstract gestures that are part of the collective lexicon, a desperate attempt to communicate.
“Messengers” will be on view from Thursday, Feb. 1, through Saturday, April 20.
Visiting the galleries
Located at 190 Alumni Mall, the Moss Arts Center’s galleries are open on Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The center offers many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage with artists and their work. To arrange a group tour of the galleries, contact Laura Higgins.
Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. When not staffed for a special event, visitors may park in the garage by taking a ticket at entry and paying with Visa or Mastercard upon exit.