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Gallery 360’s new exhibit, ‘Dream Boston,’ addresses COVID-19, racial justice

Art handler Elena Brunner installs a piece from artist MAR for the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

When it comes to developing new exhibitions, Gallery 360 curator Amy Halliday says she aims to be timely and responsive to contemporary issues. After what transpired in 2020, it wasn’t difficult to discern the two major issues that captured the zeitgeist.

“Both the pandemic and the heightened attention to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement all came together at the same time,” Halliday says of the works that fall under the title, “Dream Boston.” “This exhibition really came out of a desire to be responsive to the last year, and particularly to locate it in our local community.”

Artist Sagie Vangelina works on an installation for the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Inspiration came when she heard short audio plays created by Boston playwrights at the nearby Huntington Theatre Company. The creative works were set a few years into the future and were a response to COVID-19 and the movement for racial justice.

“It was then it really occurred to me that artists are the ones dreaming of the future of Boston,” Halliday says. “They are the ones imagining and shaping the future we want to see. I was really inspired by this play series.”

 Northeastern’s professor of the practice in theater, Melinda Lopez, a multiple award-winning playwright and performer, is one of the co-creators and directors of the Huntington Theatre’s Dream Boston series. For Halliday, one play in particular, “Virtual Attendance,” by Miranda ADEkoje, struck a chord. It’s about gentrification in Boston’s Nubian Square, and imagines a dystopian future in which prominent African American cultural spaces have been erased.

Amy Halliday, gallery curator and director of the center for the arts, left, and art handler Elena Brunner install “Urban Nest” a piece by Woomin Kim for the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

“That piece was so powerful and moving to me that it really felt like this is what we need to be responding to, so I invited ADEkoje to co-curate an exhibition with me,” Halliday says.

They invited visual artists whose work is “in, of, or for” the city to respond to the call for submissions. Seven artists’ works were ultimately chosen, each a different interpretation of the “dream” concept.

 

A look inside the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Some of the pieces are big and physical:

  • Immersive videos and soundscapes (Youjin Moon);
  • An abstract painting that captures a sensory experience of the city (MAR, the abstract artist);
  • A long vinyl print mapping a century of census categories in the construction of race (Furen Dai); and
  • A series of long horizontal banners (Jane Marsching) that reflect the theme of artists claiming space for themselves.

Candice Camille Jackson’s series of photographic portraits of children in her Dorchester community may be smaller in scale, but the visual impact is anything but.

A look inside the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

One of the first pieces visitors see upon entering is muralist Sagie Vangelina’s “No Me Toques” (“Do not touch me”).

“It really does give you a sense of a dream that can reshape the world around it, that goes beyond its original boundaries or contours to take up space,” says Halliday. 

Next to it, Woomin Kim’s “Urban Nest: Boston” hangs down like a giant loom with discarded pieces of everyday Boston life woven into it—a scarf, toy snake, old Christmas decorations, a plastic doll, and a wig, to name a few of the objects. Each is an artifact of lived experience in the city. 

A look inside the Dream Boston exhibition at Gallery 360. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Dream Boston is on display through April 11. A virtual reception to celebrate the opening will be held on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m. ET. Attendees will hear from the curators and artists themselves as they discuss the project. The reception is free but registration is required.

A virtual 3D tour will shortly go live here.

Gallery 360 is located on the first floor of the Curry Student Center. Masks are required. Due to pandemic restrictions, it is open only to Northeastern students, staff, and faculty. Faculty interested in teaching with the exhibition are encouraged to email a.halliday@northeastern.edu.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and closed Sundays.

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