The Moss Arts Center’s summer group exhibition explores the impact humans have on the Earth as well as possibilities for a more sustainable and equitable future. Through a range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and performance, the artists in “I'll be your mirror...” ask viewers to contemplate the hidden relationships between the self, community, and land.

Featuring work by Aldrich + Weissberger, Peggy Chiang, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Sally Mann, Erin Jane Nelson, Alexis Rockman, Dianna Settles, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the exhibition opens with a reception on Thursday, June 8, from 5-7 p.m. in the Moss Arts Center’s Grand Lobby, 190 Alumni Mall. The reception will include a guided tour of the exhibition led by Brian Holcombe, Moss Arts Center curator, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The galleries and all related events are free and open to the public.

“In organizing this group exhibition, I wanted to bring focus to the visibility of everyday actions that sustain communities and the land and how this labor is continuous and invisible … whether it's from life-sustaining microscopic bacteria, honeybees, or sanitation workers,” said Holcombe. “Often, maintenance becomes visible in its absence over time when the lack of care reveals itself through a breakdown. How do artists make social contracts visible, make perceptible the actions that sustain life and legacy of care? What images, objects, and actions translate the continuity of life and power in communal practices? We need to ask these questions.”

“A Trembling of Furies” by Aldrich + Weissberger is a collaborative work of cast ceramics and photo-based textile depicting cleaning products. The installation examines gendered and societal anxieties associated with cleaning and contamination, drawing parallels between cleaning and art-making.

Artist Peggy Chaing created this miniature sculpture - a dark blue carpeted staircase has been constructed inside of a Sprite soda can. The scene can be viewed through a hole cut in the side of the can.
Artist Peggy Chaing creates miniature sculptures of urban and natural scenes encased in soda cans. This work by Chaing, “No. 8,” 2019, is 5-by-3-by-3 inches, consists of a soda can, wood, resin, plastic, and paint on a custom pine wood folding table. Photo courtesy of Peggy Chaing.

Miniature sculptures created by Peggy Chiang depict hyperrealistic renderings of urban and natural scenes encased in soda cans viewable only through the cut oval windows in the side of the can and give a sense of the uncanny and surreal in the relationship between the built and natural world wrapped in the framework of consumerism.

Conceived by Cannupa Hanska Luger, an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, “Mirror Shield Project,” 2016, is a social engagement work where members of the public were invited to create mirrored shields for water protectors protesting the pipeline construction at Standing Rock. It provided a how-to video for making the shields using vinyl and masonite.

"Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington" by Sally Mann is a collection of photographs of artist Cy Twombly’s studio and family home. Even after Twombly’s passing, his legacy continues, and Mann creates a visual record with care and attention to light, revealing his absence and presence in the studio, the resonance of memory, and continuousness of life.

Multimedia work created by Erin Jane Nelson explores themes related to identity, memory, and the environment with a particular focus on the effects of climate change on the southeastern United States, where she lives. Nelson combines natural and synthetic elements in her work, adding permanence to otherwise ephemeral material: wall-mounted glazed stoneware holds found photographs and lichen and sunflower husks suspended in Eco poxy, underscoring the artist's interest in arresting decay of natural forms and memory. 

Paintings and works on paper by artist Alexis Rockman depict imagined landscapes and post-apocalyptic scenes. In this exhibition, Rockman’s large watercolors of monarch butterflies and honeybees immerse the viewer with their detailed rendering and closeup perspective, giving a sense of unease that the environment could turn on us at any moment.

Colorful paintings by Dianna Settles highlight the beauty and uniqueness of communal experiences. Settles combines objects, people, places, and actions to make ephemeral happenings concrete and, as she describes, “fleeting moments of joy, power, isolation, and friendship into something lasting and fluid.”

Work by artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles explores themes of labor, maintenance, and sustainability, bringing attention to the people and processes that make society function. Ukeles is best known for her "Manifesto for Maintenance Art" and her "Touch Sanitation" performance, which featured the artist celebrating the work of New York City sanitation workers by personally greeting and thanking all 8,500 workers in the city's sanitation department. Ukeles is interested in making connections to the unseen labor that sustains life. In the artist project “Methanogenesis,” 1994, at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Blacksburg, she re-created the 1776 experiment by Count Alessandro Volta that discovered methane gas produced by the invisible bacteria living in the pond’s sediment as a means to understand an essential part of carbon-based life and connect the self to the larger world.

I'll be your mirror...” will be on view from Thursday, June 8, through Friday, Sept. 1.

Visiting the galleries

The Moss Arts Center’s galleries are open on Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The center offers many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage with artists and their work. To arrange a group tour of the galleries, contact Laura Higgins.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. When not staffed for a special event, visitors may park in the garage by taking a ticket at entry and paying with Visa or Mastercard upon exit. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours.

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