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With Emerson Urban Arts Exhibit, Students Create, Curate

A new exhibit at the Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery explores the search for and declaration of self-identity through work by Boston-area graduate students that was curated by Emerson College undergraduates.

NO ONE will tell me who I am opens with a reception Wednesday, December 14, 5:00-7:00 pm, at the Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, and features pieces by 11 artists from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Boston University School of Fine Arts. All the artists were chosen by students in the What Is Contemporary Art? course in Emerson’s Visual and Media Arts Department.

“The experience has been extraordinary,” said Josh Samuels ’17, a student in the curation class and a Media Arts Production major. “Whenever you start to deal with identity, it inherently becomes personal. These featured artists are pouring themselves into their work, and we’re pouring ourselves into the gallery.”

Students selected the work based on site visits to the graduate studios of the three schools. The act of curating the exhibit helps students understand “what makes their generation unique” through the work of their contemporaries in the art world, said Joseph Ketner, the Lois and Henry Foster Chair in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice and distinguished curator-in-residence, who teaches the course.

It also gives students a sneak preview of the future of art, he said.

“It’s a special opportunity to look into the graduate studios of today and see the work that will be the voice of the emerging generation of artists,” Ketner said. “It is always new, changing, and invigorating.”

The featured artists in NO ONE will tell me who I am each aim to uncover where they fit in in a diverse and changing society. By focusing on aspects of memory, culture, and stereotypes, the graduate students react to and revolt against the rigid social categories that try to define them.

“I am the creator of my story,” said Lennon Walcott, a graduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts. “I am the authority of my culture.”

In addition to Walcott, artists in the exhibit include Riley James Allen, Isabel Beavers, Devki Modi, Nedaa Mulla, Cal Rice, Shweta Sengupta, William van Beckum, and Graham Yeager (SMFA); Victoria Nunley (BU); and Homa Sarabi (MassArt).

NO ONE will tell me who I am runs from December 14 to 18, and from January 18 to February 18 (it will be closed during the holiday break). Gallery hours are Wednesday–Saturday, 2:00–7:00 pm.

The Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery opened in October 2016 with Oliver Herring’s Areas for Action.