Visual Arts Center of New Jersey To Open Fall Exhibitions Focusing on Themes of Dislocation and Migration
Summit, NJ (August 10, 2023)—This fall, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) will present exhibitions of work from Elana Herzog, Sandra Eula Lee, Samantha Batra Mehta, and Jeffrey Gibson. The works presented explore themes of dislocation and migration through the use of repurposed everyday and found materials. All four exhibitions will be on view from September 29, 2023, to February 4, 2024.
In the Art Center’s Main Gallery, Elana Herzog: Ripped, Tangled, and Frayed will feature stunning mixed textile works ranging from raw and threadbare fabric vestiges to plush floral piecework embellished with embroidery and applique. Since 1997, the artist has been fascinated by vintage chenille, which she rips, sews, staples, suspends, and occasionally adorns with beadwork. Exhibition highlights include her signature stapled works, which involved deconstructing and embedding textiles seamlessly into the gallery walls. Herzog also showcases recent large-scale wall pieces, a new direction in sewing, combining, and accumulating different fabrics sourced from her extensive travels. Finally, a site-specific floor installation, Felled, features cut logs incised with fabric extending from the Main Gallery to the building’s exterior. Through artworks spanning from 1995 to the present, this exhibition reflects the breadth and depth of Herzog’s innovative engagement with textiles. This exhibition also features a commissioned broadside that Herzog co-created with master papermaker Mina Takahashi and poet Brenda Coultas. Limited edition prints of the broadside will be available for purchase following the opening of the exhibition. The Art Center will also release a related scholarly publication that examines the artist’s work in relationship to contemporary art, the history of textiles, and craft traditions. Contributors include Eva Díaz, Nancy Princenthal, and Jenni Sorkin.
In the Mitzi & Warren Eisenberg Gallery, mixed-media artist Samanta Batra Mehta will present Search for the Empyrean, a collection of her recent work which includes altered vintage books, radios, globes, and works on paper. The title of this exhibition translates to “of or relating to heaven or the sky,” and is drawn from Mehta’s digital prints—Redux II Search for the Empyrean #1 and #2—which combine cosmological and astrological imagery. Mehta’s work often explores themes of identity, dislocation, migration, gender constructs, and colonization, and she is drawn to vintage objects, antiquarian maps, and found photographs that she alters to construct a reimagined history. In the works presented at the Art Center, she finds inspiration in history, mythology, medieval illustration, and nature.
In the Marité & Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery I, VACNJ will feature Sandra Eula Lee: The Walking Mountain. Lee is a multidisciplinary artist who alters ordinary and found objects to explore notions of permanence. This exhibition showcases selections from The Walking Mountain series, which primarily consists of more than 80 drawings created since 2014. Lee’s varied compositions feature meticulous mounds of rocks, outlines of rock formations, and geometric shapes with radiating lines. Lee was inspired to create these drawings after encountering piles of stones in the mountains of South Korea while she was living in Seoul. This expansive collection of drawings is a reflection on the interconnectedness of human experience and geological shifts. By juxtaposing subtle landscape transformations with rapid urban development, Lee reveals the relative nature of the passage of time.
The Stair-gazing Gallery features Jeffrey Gibson: SHE KNOWS OTHER WORLDS on loan from the Forge Project, which oversees a collection of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of living Indigenous artists. The first Indigenous artist selected for a solo show at the 2024 Venice Biennale, Gibson is a multi-media artist whose practice ranges from painting and sculpture to installation and performance. SHE KNOWS OTHER WORLDS is a mixed-media artwork incorporating acrylic painting, glass beads, and artificial sinew inset into a custom frame. In his painting practice, Gibson draws affinities between the designs, colors, and materials present in Indigenous art and Modernist abstraction. Through its bold colors, rhythmic visual effects, and powerful message, SHE KNOWS OTHER WORLDS conveys hopefulness and wisdom for shaping the future.
About the Artists
Elana Herzog lives and works in New York City. She earned a BA from Bennington College and an MFA from Alfred University. She has held solo exhibitions at Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Diverseworks, Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Sharjah Art Museum, and Smack Mellon, among others. Her work has been exhibited nationally in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Everson Museum of Art, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Museum of Arts and Design, David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, and Weatherspoon Art Museum. In addition, she has participated in international group exhibitions at Gustavsberg Konsthall, Sweden; Mercer Union, Canada; Museums of Bergen, Norway; and the Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland. Her work is in private and public collections including the National Academy of Design. Herzog has participated in residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Dieu Donne Paper, Fountainhead, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, MacDowell, Joan Mitchell Center, Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, Wave Hill, and Yaddo. She is the recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, Saint Gaudens Memorial Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, among others.
Samanta Batra Mehta’s work has been exhibited at art galleries and museums in the US and abroad, including at the Queens Museum of the Arts, the Hudson River Museum, the Hunterdon Museum, the Taubman Museum of Art in the US, Fotografia Cassa di Risparmio di Modena and Museo d’Arte Orientale in Italy and at ‘Reading Room’, a partner exhibition at the Kochi Biennale 2014. She has had three solo presentations: Cabinet of Curiosities at Shrine Empire, New Delhi, which was nominated for the Forbes India Art Award in 2014; The Journey of Secrets, at Sakshi Art Gallery, Mumbai in 2015; and The Crucible of Fantasy at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015, presented by Shrine Empire Gallery. Her works are included in various art collections including at Fondazione Fotografia Cassa di Risparmio di Modena in Italy, the RPG Group, India, The Jindal Collection, India, the Birla Art Foundation, India. She was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s 2014–2015 Painters & Sculptors Grant Award. She participated in Wave Hill’s 2020 Winter Workspace Residency in New York and is 2021 SqW:Lab Fellowship recipient.
Sandra Eula Lee is a Korean-American artist and educator who has taught at Franklin & Marshall College, Kenyon College, and University of the Arts London. Her interdisciplinary artwork has been exhibited internationally in solo exhibitions including a 10-year survey at The Hilliard Museum in Lafayette, LA; Art Space Pool in Seoul, South Korea; The Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College, and CEAC in Xiamen, China. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Incheon Art Platform in Seoul; Inside-Out Museum in Beijing; DadaPost in Berlin; Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University; Smack Mellon in Brooklyn; Goucher College in Baltimore; and recently at the Delaware Contemporary. Lee is an Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellow and has received awards from the Asian Cultural Council, and the 2020 Individual Artist Award from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her Artist-in-Residence fellowships include The Elizabeth Foundation Studio Center, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Residency Unlimited, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Vermont Studio Center. Lee received her BFA from Cornell University and MFA from Hunter College, and is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Montclair State University.
Jeffrey Gibson lives and works near Hudson, New York. He is Choctaw-Cherokee and is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA from the Royal College of Art. Gibson’s work has been exhibited in major solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Denver Art Museum, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, among others. Gibson is also represented in the permanent collections of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and National Gallery of Canada, Smithsonian Institution, among others. Gibson is a recipient of numerous awards, notably a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; Joan Mitchell Foundation, Painters and Sculptors Award; and Creative Capital Foundation Grant. Currently, he is an artist-in-residence in the Studio Arts Program at Bard College. He was recently selected to represent the United States at the 2024 Venice Biennale and he is the first indigenous artist to exhibit in the US pavilion.