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Glass Books Exhibition Based on African-American Oral History Collection at Gateway

BY lyanne

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Photo information: Provisions, Nick Kline & Adrienne Wheeler with Endless Editions and Rutgers University-Newark Book Arts Students, from GlassBook Project #10. (18)
Risograph artists publications, 3”x6.25”x8.5”, edition 150 + 5AP, 2015

BY CARLA CAPIZZI

 

The “GlassBook Project: Provisions,” an exhibition of interactive, unique glass books, photographs, printed publications and sounds – all inspired by the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection — will be at the Gateway Project Gallery June 4 through Aug. 14. The exhibition opens June 4 with a reception from 6-9 p.m. at the gallery, http://gatewayprojectspaces.com/, 2 Gateway Center, adjacent to Penn Station, Newark.

“Provisions” is a collaborative art project by Nick Kline, an RU-N art professor; RU-N artist-in-residence Adrienne Wheeler; RU-N students in Kline’s “Book Arts” class; publisher Endless Editions; and Samantha Boardman, project coordinator of the Rutgers Newark Oral History Project whose focus is the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection. Boardman, who recently earned her Ph.D. at RU-N, digitally preserved the analog versions of the more than 200 recordings of interviews with African-Americans who migrated to Newark between 1910 and 1970 during the Great Migration. Learn more at http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/krueger-scott-oral-history-project

Seven of these interviews are part of the Gateway Project Gallery, and “seek to keep the interviewees’ voices alive for a new generation through a contemporary context,” explains Kline. The title ”Provisions” is inspired by descriptions of the boxes and bags used by individuals to carry food on their long journeys northward, a custom necessitated by “Jim Crow” laws that barred African-Americans from most restaurants and other public accommodations.

The starting point for “Provisions” is Elizabeth (2015), a portrait series by Kline and Adrienne Wheeler that tells the story of Wheeler’s mother Elizabeth, a longtime RU-N employee, who migrated from the South. Adrienne Wheeler worked with Kline to re-photograph and re-focus the images from her parents’ wedding album. The new photographs photographically isolate details from the originals — such as hand gestures, light fixtures, textures of church pews, and graphic elements of the bride’s dress — to reveal Elizabeth Wheeler’s forward-moving identity. The portrait series follows the original sequence and visual narrative of the wedding album and is projected as a large-scale slideshow that alternates between entire images and carefully cropped details.

Each of the artist books on display—created by Kline’s students —is an abstract, conceptual portrait based on specific details drawn from the interviews. Each student artist created a one-of-a-kind, interactive glass sculpture in a book form, a technique pioneered by Kline, founder of the GlassBook Project.

Endless Editions, a metropolitan area publisher, also created a limited edition paper publication for each book, and Kline, Wheeler, and Endless Editions produced a publication based on the questionnaire originally used to conduct the oral history interviews.

The exhibition also includes a glass reproduction of the Wheeler family album, a publishing workshop/salon with Endless Editions that is free to the Newark Arts community and is an Express Newark pop-up project, as well as digitized historic photographs from the City of Newark Municipal Archive.

“The Gateway Project Gallery is an important addition to the arts scene in Newark, co-founded and co-directed by RU-N alumna Rebecca Jampol, an uncannily energetic and increasingly influential gallerist,” noted Peter Englot, RU-N’s senior vice chancellor for public affairs and chief of staff. “The multiple intersections of this opening at the Gateway with RU-N reflect the university’s contributions as an anchor institution in Newark that is making a concerted and sustained effort to leverage the arts and culture to increase Newark’s vitality.”

The Provisions Project has received support from the RU-N Office of the Chancellor and the Dean’s Office, RU-N College of Arts and Sciences. “Provisions” was produced in coordination with RU-N’s Newest Americans project and the RU-N Center for Migration and the Global City.

 

About The Gateway Project
The Gateway Project began in 2012 as a series of pop up art exhibitions that were activated intermittently throughout the Gateway Center. The Gateway Project’s mission is to enliven the community through interactive and stimulating art exhibitions. The gallery space rotates exhibitions every six weeks, providing participation opportunities to regional, national and international curators and artists. Gallery exhibitions are open to the public, Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. www.gatewayprojectspaces.com

The Gateway Project Expansion is expected to usher in a vast growth in programs and opportunities for multidisciplinary artists. The new facility will span over three floors in the Gateway Two Center, adjacent to Newark’s Penn Station. The Gateway Project will offer affordable studios to artists and cultural practitioners. The Gateway Project is also cultivating bi-monthly open studio events, and a program for artists to interface with visiting critics, curators, and collectors.

 

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