Snug Harbor Announces Autumn 2018 Art Exhibitions

Columns & Caryatids
RE/Configurations: art, disability, identity
We the People: Black Indians in America

Release date: October 10, 2018

Staten Island, NY – Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is excited to announce three new visual art exhibitions for autumn 2018 at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Buildings C & G.  The new exhibitions (Columns & Caryatids; RE/Configurations: art, disability, identity; We the People: Black Indians in America) will all be on display from October 20, 2018 – December 30, 2018, with a free opening reception on October 20, 2018 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM at the Newhouse Center.

“Our fall exhibits offer three powerful opportunities to relate to themes of identity in different ways,” said Melissa West, Snug Harbor’s Vice President of Curation, Performing & Visual Arts.  “Kristi Pfister’s work explores issues of history and aesthetics through a feminist lens, while Fern Metcalf traces the cultural heritage of Black Indians in America through photography. RE/Configurations is a groundbreaking group show where disabled artists challenge notions of disability in their work. These exhibitions are compelling platforms to encourage important social discourse and there will be programming scheduled throughout the season to delve deeper into the work.”


Columns & Caryatids: Columns & Caryatids is an exhibition of mixed media work where artist Kristi Pfister creates a forest of suspended translucent columns, monumental wall drawings, oil paintings, and intimate tile-sized work.  The installation explores the concept of columns as iconic symbols of democracy and strength, introduces Dorothy Day as a modern-day caryatid leading a procession of activism, and brings awareness to the historic Greek Revival architecture of Snug Harbor.

“My interest in transparency and translucency led me to take ideas related to Columns & Caryatids and filter them through different art materials,” said Pfister.  “The Main Hall Gallery was also an inspiration in terms of its scale and architecture.”

As part of the exhibition’s programming, Pfister will host an Exhibition Tour and Creative Workshop on Saturday, November 17 at 2:00 PM.  Admission to the event is included with $5 gallery admission.  On the tour, Pfister will share how the ideas and concepts around Columns & Caryatids informed her use of art materials and various processes. Working in the Newhouse Center’s Main Hall Gallery space, participants will make a small sculptural column using the same process.

Kristi Pfister is a painter and public artist.  She studied Visual Art at Barnard College, Columbia University and received her master’s degree from Pratt Institute.  Pfister exhibits throughout the region and New York City.  Her public artwork includes grants from the Percent for Art Program, the NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Staten Island Zoo.  Pfister is a strong advocate for Art Education, having worked as a teaching artist with many arts organizations, schools and cultural institutions in NYC.


RE/Configurations: art, disability, identity: RE/Configurations: art, disability, identity is a major exhibition, guest curated by Milenka Berengolc (project originator) and Margaret Chase, that is part of “Artists Undeterred,” a forum for disabled artists who exemplify bold vision and distinctive execution, and provides an expanded frame of reference for general audiences. The project explores the multi-faceted relationship of disability vis-à-vis contemporary art, through the lens of creators and producers who are disabled and whose work addresses disability. The opening reception for RE/Configurations will feature ON DISPLAY, a movement installation by Heidi Latsky Dance.

“There is now a wave of galvanizing energy surrounding considerations of disability artistry, identity, aesthetics, and practice,” said co-curators Berengolc and Chase in a joint statement. “We hope to engage the public and prompt discussions about multiple ways to view art and disability. What we believe is unique about our exhibition is that the artists included here have chosen to address disability in their work. In so doing, they are reclaiming the word ‘disabled’ and questioning the very concept of normalcy. This is art not in spite of disability, but because of it.”

As part of the exhibition’s programming, the co-curators invite the public to Widening the Lens on Disability on Thursday, November 8 from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM, which includes a sneak peek at film “Code of the Freaks” and a panel discussion of disability art and dynamics, with distinguished panelists Dr. Carrie Sandahl, Jerron Herman, Anthony Ptak, and Christopher Preissing, with Milenka Berengolc as moderator.

On Saturday, November 10, the co-curators will host an Artist Talk & Dialogue from 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM, where attendees can explore the themes of the exhibition and participate in a discussion with renowned exhibiting artist Riva Lehrer and Dr. Carrie Sandahl, one of Ms. Lehrer’s portrait subjects. Dr. Sandahl also serves as consultant to the Artists Undeterred project. Both the panel discussion and artist talk are free with $5 gallery admission.

Co-curator Milenka Berengolc has curated 3 major exhibitions/projects: “Life as Art”, at the Viepo Gallery, Staten Island, New York; “Healing/Transforming”, at the Snug Harbor Studios, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island; and CURA, together with Sophia Marisa Lucas. She holds an MFA from Bard College in video and performance. As a performance artist and actor, she has showcased original material via numerous venues and collaborations such as the Brooklyn Museum, the State Museum of New York, Albany, New York, and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, New York.

Co-curator Margaret Chase has worked in exhibition development and interpretation, public programming and education at the New York Hall of Science, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, where she was an artist-in-residence and coordinated the museum theatre program. She also served as Vice President of the International Museum Theatre Alliance. Chase is an actor and writer, and holds a BFA in Theatre from Boston University School for the Arts.

RE/Configurations contains mature content. The co-curators gratefully acknowledge that this exhibition is made possible in part by a DCA Art Fund Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. It is also sponsored in part by a Humanities New York Quick Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; and by the following:

Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled; Pride Center of Staten Island; United Spinal Association – New York City Chapter; Kershner, Grosso & Co.; Angelica Patient Assistance Program/OPEN DOORS; Curtis High School; Staten Island Center for Independent Living; J’s on the Bay; Materials for the Arts; International Sports and Music Project Inc.; Staples, Inc. (1520 Forest Avenue, SI); Steven Wakeman; Zach Grenier and Lynn Bailey; and Go Fund Me donors (to date): Patricia & Jeff Rosen, Katie Eichhorn, Julie Ridge, Vivian Vassar, Jason Steinberg, and Susan King. Special thanks to Dr. Carrie Sandahl, project advisor; Mary Campbell, Graphics; and Kimbra Eberly, Marketing.

We the People: Black Indians in America: From early African explorers who stayed in America, to regions where slavery was prevalent or where free people of color have historically resided, Black Indians have always been a part of the history of the new world as it unfolded in America. We the People: Black Indians in America is an exhibition of Fern Metcalf’s photography and storytelling which depicts the history and present-day life of Black Indians and Mardi Gras Indians living in today’s United States. The descendants, like their forefathers, take many forms in the millennium, as Cherokee, Creek Chickasaw or Mardi Gras Indians, all Americans. The mere fact that they still exist is testimony to their unending resilience in America.

“In this exhibit, I choose to focus on images that evoke memory as a constant thread the viewer can feed off of,” said Metcalf.  “The journey to collect these images took me through various reservations in the US and a New Orleans neighborhood.  My journey caused me to discover individuals geographically separated yet joined by a collectivist past…Black Indians regularly encounter dubious skeptics who refuse to acknowledge their ancestral worth, yet they still exist.  We live claimed by what we have experienced and what we dream about, which plays a key part in what we believe is possible.  My starting point is always visual recognition.  With this exhibit I seek to show a connection to a whole no matter the opposition to existence or the geographical distance.  Black Indians and Mardi Gras Indians, we see you, we hear you.”

As part of the exhibition’s programming, Snug Harbor and Metcalf will host an Artist Talk on Thursday, November 1 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM and a Youth Artist Talk on Saturday, December 15 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM.  Both events are free with $5 gallery admission.

Fern Metcalf was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Metcalf’s first camera, an Olympus Pen F half frame, was given to her while she was in high school by her father, an avid photographer. Fern studied photography and filmmaking at the University of Colorado, Denver and CUNY, College of Staten Island. Fern mounted her first solo show in 2015 “Cuba…and its magic” comprised of pictures taken during her two visits to Cuba (July 2010 and May 2015) at SpotLight Gallery at Wagner College. Fern was also invited as a panel member and honoree for “Women in the Arts” by the Staten Island Women’s Political Caucus in October 2016. Fern’s writing was published in the upcoming Staten Island Creative Community journal in March 2018.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is located at 1000 Richmond Terrace, which is open from dawn until dusk seven days a week.  General admission to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art is $5 ($4 for students/seniors, free for Snug Harbor members), and spring-autumn hours are Thurs-Fri from 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM and Sat-Sun from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  Snug Harbor’s Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art acknowledges generous support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation.  Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate.

Download: Press Release (PDF) | Columns & Caryatids image | RE/Configurations image | We the People image
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