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Making Strange exhibition installation image, 2021; Courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Art Center

Making Strange exhibition installation image, 2021; Courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Art Center

Making Strange

On View Friday, February 12–Sunday, May 16, 2021

Weaving constructed and anecdotal narratives, Making Strange explores the distortion of objects, places, and bodies. Through their respective artistic practices, Tara Najd Ahmadi, Alice Alexandrescu, Cecily Culver, Jason Livingston, SV Randall, Masha Sha, Abiose Spriggs, Margaret Schrecongost, Annette Daniels Taylor, and Frederick Wright Jones make artwork responsive to the mercurial power deforming the present. The artists reimagine the conventional, and call viewers to question how opportunities for contemplation can emerge from such distortions.

This thematic focus parallels a contemporary moment in which traditional spaces, systems and approaches are being tested. 2020 was a year of the omni-crisis: characterized by ongoing civil, social, and political unrest amid a global pandemic, our perception of a shared reality has been fractured. And as we grapple with the uncertainty this brings, we are now called upon to reckon with the ways inequity and injustice have been perpetuated, and just how they have impacted individual, communal, and social identities.

Making Strange focuses on the ruminations presently taking place; not only through the artworks exhibited, but also by its collaborative curatorial process. The curatorial team — comprised of Tiffany Gaines, Katharine Gaudy, Zainab Saleh, Dana Tyrrell, and Rebecca Wing — utilized a virtual studio visit process to engage in thoughtful discussions with the artists and how their practice has evolved amidst these larger forces. It is through these conversations that formal connections between the works and process of each artist were developed and the curatorial context for the exhibition came into focus. The collision of media and scale — small scale painting, large scale drawing, sculpture, and video — offers a glimpse as to how different mediums can be manipulated to make sense of a capricious time. 

The artworks presented in Making Strange offer a look at how contemporary artists embed a shared psychological fracturing within their work and practice. Its artists and curatorial cohort have sought to represent the next, and the best, from among a diverse and deep pool of practicing contemporary visual artists connected to Western New York. The artwork represents a unique moment of transition and flux, ready to be seen today and understood tomorrow. 

This exhibition is presented by Bank of America, with support from James & Joy Brandys, Frank & Cynthia Ciminelli and the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation, Lynne Marie Finn and William & Linda Maggio.