The Fine Arts Gallery at York and JCAL Present: “Writing Home”

The two pieces of art, “DREAM OF OCEAN”and “JJ” created by Nicolas Farser which are part of Fraser’s “left hanging” series” Photo Credit: Marisa Morrison

By Marisa Morrison

York College hosts the Southeast Queens Biennial at the Fine Arts Gallery opening on Feb. 14. The exhibit includes many artists from around the New York Area, and is curated by the Director of the Performing and Fine Arts Program at York, Margaret Rose Vendryes, and Molaundo Jones. 

This year’s Biennial carries the theme “Writing Home: Literacy, Identity, Environment”. The exhibit will feature various handpicked artists expressing and demonstrating the heart of their respective homelands and boroughs through their elaborate and distinctive varieties in the field of visual arts. The exhibit will not only be held at the Fine Arts Gallery, but also the Miller Gallery at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. 

Vendryes explains that many of the messages and topics you will be exposed to at the gallery are led by the artists themselves and their artwork, each of which contributes to the theme of “Writing Home”.

The artists featured in the 2020 SEQ Biennial include Jessica Alazraki, Christy Bencosme, Yarisa Colon Torres, Audrey Dimola, Nicholas Fraser, Jacqueline Herranz-Brooks, William Jackson, Jinyu Li, Julian Louis Phillips, and Tiger White. 

The exhibit allows the artists to convey the life of their respective communities through their various artwork, as a way of giving back to the people, as well as communicating their own definitions of what home means to them. The theme of “Writing Home” lives within the artists themselves. As Vendryes puts it, “They are the home.” 

“There’s something for everyone, sound, projections, videos– it’s for the inquiring mind,” says Vendryes. “All artists have something to tell about themselves.” 

The artwork featured in the exhibit strives to serve most of the community they originate from by giving the people who play, work, and live within them their own visualized voice. The artists are aiming to give a special perspective to their personalized versions of “home”.

“The pieces I have proposed for this exhibition are related to all these personal experiences and it is in fictionalizing them and in writing where I feel at home,” says featured artist, Jacqueline Herranz-Brooks.

One of her pieces featured in the exhibit includes Contested Territory: Repatriated Poetry. She describes it as an “urban intervention, street poetry project, centered on the Cuban repatriation process, a piece made at the request of her mother, in 2018.

“I am an immigrant, a queer artist, and author, who writes in Spanish in the US, and also an Adjunct Lecturer for CUNY,” Herranz-Brooks describes herself. “I am constantly searching for a place of belonging to be myself and persistently re-creating spaces to call home.”

Much of the visual arts featured in the exhibit attempt to recapture what their communities represent in the eyes and lives of the people living there, including how the artists themselves are affected by it. This includes literature, boards, images, sounds, projections, videos, doll art, and more. 

“I have two art installations called ‘in the beginning was a hero seeking Home’”says featured artist Audrey Dimola. They both speak to my journey to find my own sense of safety, belonging, and HOME.” 

Dimola comes from a background of both Queens and Brooklyn, having lived in the same house as her parents for nearly 25 years, and has moved throughout Queens and once in Brooklyn, including 10 times in the past five years.

In the eyes of Dimola, “You can’t find true home anywhere but inside your own self.”

The artists are special in themselves, all of them representing different diverse locations and communities, yet each of them has a story to tell through their artwork. Each story tells of their own representation of “home”. 

“It’s an attempt to find and create your own home, your own place of protection and sanctuary, in a way,” says featured artist and gallery manager, Nicholas Fraser.

When asked which pieces of art she felt embodied the strongest message in the exhibit, Vendryes commented that the question in itself was tough to answer. However, after some thought she says that ‘Instillation’ visual art  (a specific artistic categorization that often depicts three-dimensional artwork) is one of the most prominent art seen within the gallery. 

“The artwork, compiled of either literacy, boards, and images attach themselves to reading and understanding,” says Vendreys. “It creates an environment that you have to emotionally enter.”

The artists looked back at their finished productions, and took time to reflect on what they found to be enjoyable about participating in the 2020 SEQ Biennial. 

“In the beginning was a hero seeking Home” by Audrey Dimola Photo Credit: Marisa Morisson

“I think my favorite aspect of the show is watching the entire project coalesce and come together and become more complex and interesting as you see the details of it in the room together,” says Fraser.

The exhibit  will remain open until April 17, 2020. It is open to the public and is free of charge. 

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