c/o Ben Togut, Arts and Culture Editor

c/o Ben Togut, Arts and Culture Editor, “Liquid Gold”

So far this semester, three visual arts exhibitions have debuted, both held in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Two of the three exhibitions—the Wayland Rudd Collection, which is being presented by artist Yevgeniy Fiks, and “Liquid Gold,” presented by Assistant Professor of Art Ilana Yacine Harris-Babou—are connected with Black bodies and experiences in celebration of Black History Month. “Seeing is forgetting and remembering and forgetting again,” presented by Carrie Yamaoka ’79, is also currently featured in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. These three installations will be on display throughout the first half of the Spring 2023 semester. 

“Seeing is forgetting and remembering and forgetting again,” displayed in the Main Gallery, features a collection of multimedia art, ranging from drawings to paintings, photographs, and sculptures, all focused on portraying the “effects of memory on visuality.” This will be the second time Carrie Yamaoka has had her work displayed in the Zilkha Gallery, the first being her senior thesis in ’79. 

The Wayland Rudd Collection, displayed in the South Gallery, focuses on the portrayal of Black people in Soviet art and propaganda. There is a strong anti-racist and anti-colonialist slant to the art. This is meant to complement the collection of critical race essays Fiks released as a companion to the art collected for the Wayland Rudd Collection. The Wayland Rudd Collection will be closing on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and admission is free, so students should take the opportunity to see it while they can. 

“Liquid Gold” focuses on the history of breastfeeding as it pertains to Black mothers. The installation is multimedia, featuring video installations and sculptural art, and seeks to examine the ways that consumerism and racial hierarchy affect even seemingly independent health decisions such as breastfeeding. “Liquid Gold” opened in the North Gallery on Tuesday, Jan. 30 and will be closing Sunday, March 5.

When asked about her thoughts on putting the installation together and having it displayed in the Zilkha Gallery, Harris-Babou spoke about having the Wesleyan community as an audience while being a professor at the University. 

“I think it’s a really special opportunity to have an exhibition at Wesleyan, because so rarely do you install a show and then continue to be around in the same community as the audience and be able to get feedback from them consistently,” Harris-Babou said. “Practically speaking, I think I was able to make work [here] that I wouldn’t be able to anywhere else…. And being able to be on campus over winter break, and edit the video in the actual space it was going to be projected in, really impacted how I thought about installing the piece as well.” 

Harris-Babou described how the experience of seeing “Liquid Gold” will impact different people in various ways. 

“I definitely never want a viewer to take [away] one main thing,” Harris-Babou said. “I feel like each work of art kind of completely becomes anew with each new visitor to the gallery. So whoever’s coming brings new associations, their own life experiences, and the work kind of becomes something else each time it comes into contact with a new viewer, and it sort of shifts in meaning from viewer to viewer. So there’s no one story and one thing I want them to take away from the piece. I hope there are multiple points of access whether that be visually or viscerally, sonically, texturally, textually.”

Harris-Babou also hopes “Liquid Gold” will spark discussions within the University community and looks forward to future installations of visual art on campus. 

“I think it’s really cool that my work could be integrated into so many different conversations in so many different disciplines on campus,” Harris-Babou said. “I’m hoping that some of my students or some of my future students can stop by, and it gives them some ideas about how they might install their work in the future.” 

Keep an eye out for two upcoming exhibits, set to display in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery later in March. The 42nd annual Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition, featuring works of art from students ranging from kindergarten to the 12th grade, will run from Saturday, March 11 until Sunday, March 19. Additionally, the gallery will feature senior studio art major theses, with these exhibitions beginning Wednesday, March 29 and running until Sunday, April 30.

Nicole Lee can be reached at nlee@wesleyan.edu.

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