Review of, The World After January 20, 2017, in The Miscellany News by Monica d. Church

Gallery echoes discontent, unease of political climate


Posted on February 8, 2017 in Arts

The James W. Palmer Gallery’s newest exhibition, “The World After January 20, 2017,” details the feeling of fear and dissatisfaction prevalent since the election of Donald J. Trump. / Photo courtesy of Tatana Keller via Palmer Gallery

As chants of “not my president” echo across the nation, millions gather around the globe to protest our new administration and hot pink yarn flies off the shelves of craft stores everywhere, Donald Trump is still the president of the United States. In the months since the election, and especially the two weeks after the inauguration, the entire planet has been reeling from the election of one of the most divisive leaders we have seen in the modern age, forced to come to terms with the reality that such a man has come to power. How can we attempt to process this dynamic shift, and where can we find the energy to keep us in the fight?

The James W. Palmer Gallery has provided one such answer in its new exhibition, “The World After January 20, 2017: Works by Contemporary Artists and Poets.” Come experience this multimedia exhibition, on view through Feb. 16, which features artists from a variety of backgrounds all searching to comprehend this strange new world, and through great pain find a sense of understanding.

The idea for such an exhibit came about through the collaboration of co-curators Associate Director of the Palmer Gallery Monica d. Church and Adjunct Associate Professor Judith Nichols, when they realized that they had a chance to create something extraordinarily current. Church explained how she introduced the idea to Professor Nichols: “I presented Judy, who I know as a poet and activist, with a loose idea that we may want to shift the focus of the exhibition we were working on to something more timely while I was at her home preparing tamales for a fundraiser for Artists for Soup. We felt that we might have an opportunity to organize an exhibition in reaction to the election, and have it take place within the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.”

Specifically addressing the original vision for the exhibition in its desire to be relevant and political, Church stated in an email, “The inspiration for the exhibition came about with the idea that ‘political and social upheavals can provide ripe environments for making art.’ We invited artists and poets to ‘consider sharing work that somehow addresses your sense of what this Presidential Inauguration might mean.’” In this way both the experience of creating the art, as well as observing the pieces as a viewer are rather cathartic experiences. In this tumultuous time, Hannah Nice ’18 [Disclaimer: Nice is the Assistant Social Media Editor at the Miscellany News] has come to value art more than ever, and talked about the thoughts she had while wandering through the exhibition: “The process of art making can be therapeutic, as it provides a way for artists to take action and translate internalized emotions into a tangible entity. On the other hand, art creates a platform for a community to be created; it acts as a physical manifestation of shared emotions. I find that this show beautifully highlights these aspects of art: the power that comes from both creating and displaying it.”

While clearly each artist in the exhibit views the election of Donald Trump (and his most recent policies) in a negative light, each work reflects a variety of reactions to his election, ranging from the darkly humorous to the quietly somber. Church expanded upon the selection process for the artists themselves: “We invited artists and poets whose works normally have political underpinnings. Thus, none of the participants were making political works for the first time. The artists/poets all responded positively to our invitation. They worked hard, over the holidays and with a very short turnaround to produce new works.”

Each work captures a variety of experiences, some quiet and reflective, and others more bombastic. While there was certainly a trend of depicting Donald Trump rodent-like and grotesque, others went for a subtler approach. The painting “A Dangerous Table” by Nichols was a favorite, blending tranquil, swirling colors with a darker, more sinister message. In a pose reminiscent of “The Last Supper”, the likenesses of Trump’s closest confidantes are seated around a table. Some are dressed in the white cloaks of KKK attire while others seated more centrally give off the Nazi salute. Perhaps most strikingly, the man with the orange hair is not seated at the table, but is placed off to the side, tripping over his own feet.

These works are meant to incite a dialogue, and Nichols puts it most eloquently: “The works in this show were created by artists who, in many cases, are in the cross-hairs of the new administration because of our queerness, color, gender, country of origin or religious affiliation. One non-violent response in these times of national crisis may be to invite dialogue with the huge number of North Americans who celebrate the direction our elected leaders seem to be taking the country.” Professor Nichols emphasized the importance of this form of protest, stating: “The urgent work for citizens of conscience right now is to imagine ways to build alliances that counter the initiatives coming out of Washington. This movement will benefit from the support of artists and writers and those of us who make their work possible. We need to fill public spaces, newspapers and classrooms with the language and vision required to sustain a just and unbreakable union.” It is clear that in times like these, filling every space with protest and dissent is the path to change, or at the very least the inhibition of the disastrous policies of our current government. While the exhibition “The World After January 20, 2017” does not give answers to every problem facing our nation at this very moment, through a variety of perspectives it offers the idea that unity does not mean disregarding the plights of individuals but embracing us all, that through mutual understanding of our unique struggles we might have a chance at progress.

The World After January 20, 2017 by Monica d. Church

I am excited to be co-curating an exhibition with poet, artist, and activist, Judith Nichols, entitled, The World After January 20, 2017: Works by Contemporary Artists and Poets. The exhibition is a response to the 2016 election.

Judy and I were collaborating on a different exhibition when the U.S. election results became clear. Our creative community seemed to be reeling from the news. We decided to defer our original project and provide an opportunity for a larger group of artists and poets to share their current politically-based work.

The exhibition will include poems, painting, prints, posters, documentary photography, political cartoons, and installation. Judy and I look forward to what the show will inspire among viewers. hoping the exhibition creates a space ripe for discussions, connections, and perhaps, especially, visions of how we might move forward.

Visual artists and poets featured include John Balaban, Gerardo Castro, Michaela, Coplen, Monica d. Church, Liza Donnelly, Guerrilla Grannies, Tatana Kellner, Virginia Lavado, Michael Maslin, Molly McGlennen, Judith Nichols, Peter Steiner, and Sam Vernon.

The show will be on view February 2-16 at Vassar College in the James W. Palmer Gallery in Main Building. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 2, 5:00-7:00 pm in the gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.



Day 2 Day Print Exchange by Monica d. Church


I am participating in The Arts center of the Capital Region's upcoming annual Day 2 Day Print Exchange curated by Danielle Morales. The exhibition requires each printmaker to submit 12 identical prints to be sorted and redistributed. In return, each artist receives 10 different prints from other artists. This exhibition showcases the prints and offers them for sale. This year's print sales will benefit The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Exhibition dates: January 27- February 24 | Faculty Student Gallery, Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY




Amy Kaslow's Life After War by Monica d. Church

Victims, Perpetrators, Eyewitnesses, and Survivors: Life After War by photo-journalist, Amy Kaslow was on view at Vassar College's Palmer Gallery from October 21- November 18, 2016. These are photos of Amy meeting with Vassar's photography club, Phocus, and shots of the exhibition. I am the advisor to Phocus and worked with Amy to design her exhibition installation. 

Recent Photographs from Nicaragua at Poughkeepsie's Crafted Kup Coffee Shop by Monica d. Church

Beginning on October 5, 2016, twenty-three of my recent photographs made in La Paz Centro, Nicaragua will be on display at Poughkeepsie's Crafted Kup Coffee Shop. The Crafted Kup is located at 44 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, New York.

The images are from a nascent body of work that began with a collaboration with the non-profit Artists for Soup. Artists for Soup is dedicated to supporting sustainable development in La Paz Centro, Nicaragua, a city of 30,000. The local women who work with this NGO generously opened their homes and shared their families with me. The Crafted Kup is open seven days a week, please stop in and view the photos and have a cuppa!