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Building 13 At MASS MoCA's Open For Fall Season

MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts is celebrating art and artists with its latest exhibits — opening in Building 13 tonight. WAMC got a tour as the final pieces of art were being hung.

Ongoing exhibits and new works showcased are on display in MASS MoCA’s Building 13, at galleries CYNTHIA-REEVES and Ferrin Contemporary.

At CYNTHIA-REEVES, San Francisco photographer Thomas Jackson is hard at work finishing up his exhibit, “Emerging Behavior.”

“I am making an indoor installation, which is new for me because I am usually do these outdoor installations so I am trying to bring the photography project that I have been working on for a few years into an interior space. And it’s basically a swarm of multi-colored file folders that you’d buy at Offfice Depot or Staples,” Jackson says.

“The normal manila-color file folders, and then bright greens and I think there’s reds, purples in this one,” Kristen Jussila says.

Gallery Director Kristen Jussila says Jackson is used to making an artistic mess of everyday objects.

“And in his photographs he puts them into landscapes so really out of context for these materials.”

Jackson hangs materials from very thin string or wire from large rigs, and photographs them, replacing swarms of bees or birds in nature for…

“Takeout containers, over there. Hoola-hoops, over there. Those like glow necklaces people wear at raves or at kids’ birthday parties. Stuff like that. There is cheese balls in the hall,” Jackson says.

Down the hall, Leslie Ferrin takes a walk around the new exhibits at Ferrin Contemporary, making sure everything is just right. A giant sculpture by artist Sergei Isupov towers near the doorway. It’s from his collection, “Hidden Messages.”

“This is a 9-foot tall figure,” Ferrin says.

A black man, shirtless, with a friendly smile on his face. His hands are extended to the ceiling. He is wearing pajama pants with white female Russian caricatures with various expressions painted on. 

“It’s made in seven parts and it’s called ‘Hem, Da. Da, Hem,” Ferrin says.

She points across the room.

“Ceramic sculptures and plywood installation shelves, so it tells a little bit of a story,” Ferrin says. “It’s called ‘Exhale.’”

On the wall is a 10-by-14 foot painted female head blowing a gust of smaller works across the exhibition.

“Sort of little clouds and each clouds are one of his ideas,” Ferrin says.

His full collection was produced in Western Massachusetts and co-curated by the Erie Art Museum in Pennsylvania.

There is also Mara Superior’s “East | West Collection” series, inspired by the history of world ceramics. Superior is the 2017 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow. Her “Americana” piece features miniaturized replicas of cobalt blue, salt-glazed stoneware pots.

“She works in high-fire porcelain using all hand-built techniques,” Ferrin says. “And her imagery draws source materials from antiques, from folk art and then she remixes them with her own sort of positions about the environment. It’s got little plates on it that say ‘pollution’ and ‘recycle’ and ‘ecologically think.’ It’s a teapot in the shape of a globe and it’s called ‘The Smart Planet.’”

Patrons have the opportunity to meet artists and see their work in progress upstairs at The Studios at MASS MoCA. Michelle Brody is one of 10 artists who are part of the Assets for Artists: Open Studios program.

“Right now mainly what you see are… it’s a project called ‘Reflections in Tea,’” Brody says. “And it’s going for 10 years, where I serve tea, share with people and collect stories.”

Used tea bags with scrawled messages are everywhere.

Next door is The Artist Book Foundation. Leslie van Breen is the executive director.

“We actually exhibit the work of the artists we publish,” van Breen says, “to celebrate and document the work of artists." 

On the walls hang vistas of the Berkshires, abstracts by Mary Sipp Green. Her autographed monograph, “Every Hour of the Light,” is on a nearby shelf.

Back downstairs, the walls are being lined with titled painted works by Giselle Hicks and a 7-foot long hand carved plywood exhibit by Yechel Gagnon. Again, Kristen Jussila from CYNTHIA-REEVES.

“Tinted veneers of wood. So what she does is she hand layers all of these layers and, very small veneers like very thin, and she’ll take them and router them down,” Jussila says. “So what you are seeing that is colorful in different wood grains is just her digging to find those layers of wood.”

Michelle Daly from the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center says Building 13 is a perfect example of northern Berkshire County’s creative economy.

“When you sort of take sort of that 30,000-foot view back and look at all of the things that are here and in a relatively small community, and it’s just the enormous range and depth of the experiences … you can’t say there is nothing to do in North Adams, you can’t say there is nothing to do in the Northern Berkshires.”

Many of the exhibits will be open through the fall.

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