On July 22, Prattsville Art Center opened "Value, Recollection, and Unforeseen Occasions," an exhibit featuring five artists exploring the act of collecting and archiving. The show includes work by Danielle "Dani" Klebes, Simone Mantellassi, David Rimanelli, Christina Hunt Wood (me!), and Thom Zinwala and runs through Labor Day weekend (9/4/22). "Value, Recollection, and Unforeseen Occasions" was curated by Nancy Barton, Director of Prattsville Art Center, and Christina Hunt Wood (again, me!).
The show is the inaugural event of the Living Archive Project, a collaboration between myself, Prattsville Art Center, Youth Clubhouse of Columbia-Greene, and Citizen's Action of Greene, which is made possible through the generous support of the Creatives Rebuild New York AEP Grant. The project will focus on teaching storytelling skills through a variety of disciplines and capturing stories from the past and present that give an inclusive view of life in the Northern Catskills.
The artists featured in the exhibition use the visual arts to tell their personal stories. Painter Dani Klebes (she/her) has created a collection of cut-outs depicting friends she has met in her travels. As a child, Dani moved often and was always the "new kid." This experience influenced her to build the cut-outs, which are her community. Dani travels across the country with them, often stopping at beautiful vistas and historical sites for photo ops.
Italian-born multi-media artist Simone Mantellassi (he/him) has an obsessive urge to make and repurpose everyday "trash"—old papers, pipe cleaners, furniture, and such. He pairs this urge with a surrealist imagination and wonderment to document American culture (its consumption and violence) through narrative and medium.
In Thom Zinwala (he/him) and David Rimanelli's (he/him) installation, the artist Thom and critic/collector of art books, David, draw you into the domestic where their practices as artist and art critic, respectively, collide. Thom's multi-media work has a manic, dreamlike (fever-dream?) quality and is constructed literal and figurative garbage mixed with a variety of formal mediums. David's books (really just a small sampling) span decades and genres and act as the overwhelming evidence of a long career in the art world.
In my own work, I travel the backroads of rural upstate New York collecting discarded road soda cans. These act as a metaphor for power over place through microaggressions. The cans are deconstructed and reinterpreted into works of art that are named for the location where the cans are found. This work was influenced by racialized microaggressions I've experienced throughout my life as a Black person in the predominantly white upper Catskills.