The Montclair Art Museum Presents "Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics"

Fall season at the Montclair Art Museum highlights the second in a series of contemporary art exhibitions. On view September 28, 2012 – January 6, 2013.
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Contemporary Art
New Directions


Montclair - New Jersey - US

Aug. 30, 2012 - PRLog -- This fall season, the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) proudly presents Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics, the second exhibition in MAM’s New Directions series, which showcases contemporary artists. It will feature new work by the Brooklyn-based multimedia artist and will mark her first solo museum exhibition. On view September 28, 2012 – January 6, 2013, the exhibition is organized by Alexandra Schwartz, MAM’s curator of contemporary art and founder of the New Directions series.

The range of media in the exhibition encompasses installation, sculpture, textiles, painting, video, and performance art. It will feature new, specially commissioned work, including sculptures inspired by the Museum’s collection of Native American art, videos for the permanent outdoor monitors on its grounds, and a performance developed and performed by the artist in collaboration with students from Montclair State University’s Department of Theater and Dance.

Blending fantasy, humor, and play, Woolfalk’s vibrant, interactive work raises questions about how people define themselves and each other in today’s global culture. Her colorful installations—which include human-scale, fabric-based sculptures, some of which double as costumes in her innovative performances; intricate paintings; thought-provoking videos; and interactive web technologies—combine rainbow hues and exuberant patterns with influences spanning from African textiles, to Buddhist mandalas, to Native American artifacts. Several of these installations exhibited at MAM incorporate handmade paper that Woolfalk created during her 2011-2012 Workspace Program residency at Dieu Donné, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of new contempoarary art utilizing the hand papermaking process.

Woolfalk’s art draws on anthropology, biology, and psychology to present a fantastical world that encourages us to consider our most pressing societal issues, including those of race, ethnicity, and gender, in a new light. This exhibition spotlights her current, science fiction–inspired project, The Empathics. The titular Empathics are a fictional group of women who, the artist imagines, blend racial and ethnic identities and gradually morph from humans into plants. The Empathics’ transformation at once symbolizes the hope that, in future societies, myriad walks of life will merge into a more harmonious, or empathic, whole, and unsettles the viewer by bringing together contradictory elements and ideas. Mimicking a natural history museum display—yet with kaleidoscopic colors, patterns, and textures unique to Woolfalk’s extraordinary vision—the exhibition and related performances will tell the story of the Empathics, their culture, and their metamorphosis.

SAYA WOOLFALK has exhibited at MoMA PS1; Deitch Projects; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; the Newark Museum; Momenta Art; and Performa 09; and has been written about in Sculpture Magazine and on Art21’s blog. With funding from the NEA, her solo exhibition, The Institute of Empathy, ran at Real Art Ways from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011. New Directions/Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics, at the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ, in Fall 2012, is her first solo museum exhibition.

NEW DIRECTIONS is the Montclair Art Museum’s contemporary art exhibition series, founded in 2011. It spotlights emerging to mid-career artists working in all media, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound, digital, and performance art.

Ritual of the Empathics
Performance Art Work by Saya Woolfalk
with student dancers from Montclair State University’s Department of Theater and Dance
October 18, 7 p.m.

Hybrid Cosmology
Performance Art Work by Saya Woolfalk
Newark Museum, Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium
October 26, 7:30 p.m.
For information or to pre-register call 973-596-6553
A special collaboration between the Montclair Art Museum and the Newark Museum

MSU/MAM Art Talks
Common Ground: Artistic and Intellectual Communities
Panel Discussion
Saya Woolfalk, Wangechi Mutu, Hank Willis Thomas, and William Villalongo
Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m.
$12 Members, $15 Nonmembers
Free for MSU staff and students

MAM Is Reading!
Lilith's Brood, by Octavia Butler
Thursday Dec 6, 7 p.m.

For more information about related events, please visit

Saya Woolfalk: Chimera
November 15, 2012 – February 23, 2013
3rd Streaming
10 Green Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY

For Chimera, her first solo exhibition at Third Streaming, Saya Woolfalk will continue her ongoing investigation of a fictional species of women called Empathics, elaborating on the ideas and characters. The Empathics are viewed here as mythological and genetic chimeras. A chimera is both an imaginary female monster with disparate parts, and a scientific term for a genetic organism composed of two or more genetically distinct tissues. Woolfalk will explore the beauty and violence of this hybrid condition in video, photography, painting, and performance.

Workspace Program 2011-2012
Public Opening: November 15, 2012, 6–8 p.m.
On View November 16–January 5
Dieu Donné
315 West 36th Street, New York, NY

The Dieu Donné Workspace Residency Program provides emerging and under recognized artists with an opportunity to create works of art in the medium of handmade paper. The organization supports this pivotal experience by working in collaboration with the artist, pairing each artist with a master papermaker to allow the artist to quickly realize his or her goals in a new visual language. By offering an in-depth and collaborative opportunity to create works of art in a new medium, the artist's traditional methods are challenged, encouraging creative innovation and producing groundbreaking works of art. This exhibition will feature work created by 2011-2012 Workspace Program participants, including Saya Woolfalk.

Starting October 4, 2012, the Museum will be open the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 9 p.m., with free admission to the galleries, unique programming, and a full-service bar with special First Thursday Night prices. Free First Thursdays are offered in partnership with Egan & Sons. See the Museum website for more details. MAM will maintain its normal hours, Wednesdays through Sundays, noon–5 p.m., with regular admission: $12 for nonmember adults, $10 for senior citizens and students with I.D., and free for members and children under 12. Free First Fridays will also remain free.

About the Museum
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) presents exhibitions and programs that reflect its collection of historic and contemporary American and Native American art. MAM's Yard School of Art offers classes for people of all ages.
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Tags:Multimedia, Contemporary Art, New Directions
Location:Montclair - New Jersey - United States
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