Exhibition curated by URI professor, students set to open Friday at arts center

A group of 27 artists reimage objects, ideas and practices in an exhibition that will be unveiled during an opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, at the Jamestown Arts Center, 18 Valley St.

The exhibition, “Second Time Around,” was borne from a fall 2023 course at the University of Rhode Island. Curated by professor Erin McCutcheon, students in her advanced art history class helped organize the display.

“The course aims to both introduce students to the critical histories of museums and galleries while also guiding them through the process of launching an exhibition for the public,” McCutcheon said.

This led one student, Taylor Moss, to an internship at the arts center, where she currently is assisting with the final preparations for “Second Time Around.” She said watching a project come to fruition over the course of eight months “is nothing short of exciting.”

“This collaboratively curated exhibition has offered students, such as myself, invaluable experiences regarding professional development,” Moss said.

The theme for “Second Time Around” evolved from the students’ collective interests in the way art might visualize the complex layering of histories in ways that speak to the urgent need for sustainable practices in the face of climate change. Artwork was selected and juried by Ella Mills from the University of Plymouth in England.

“The show offers a fluid narrative of the ways contemporary artists are using past stories, memories, objects, materials, images and artistic processes to respond to the present, and imagine new possibilities for the future,” McCutcheon said.

For example, in her woven sculptures, Amy Usdin recycles torn fishing nets. In the text, student Luke Abbenante writes: “Her practice of rescuing discarded and aging materials is connected to her experience caring for her elderly parents. … In suggesting the ongoing vitality of these materials of trade, so ubiquitous in our own waterways, Usdin encourages us to think more consciously about the notion of usefulness in our world.”

Another artist, Kay Johnson de Mesquita, uses the fabric from 89 of her father’s neckties to make a quilt. Like her piece, which weaves her memories into something new, the collective artwork in “Second Time Around” weaves together stories of resilience, revitalization and repair through new approaches to materials.

The work “crosses temporal boundaries to highlight Colonial histories and assert the visibility of diverse cultural inheritances. Others evoke the nostalgia attached to images, objects, and clothing, suggesting both the fragility and constancy of memory, as well as art’s ability to heal. The layering of histories on the body is evident throughout the space, as objects play between the absence and presence of the body in images and material traces, or in embodied processes of repair and interactivity.”

Free gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays until June 15. There will be a talk with the juror, Mills, at 6 p.m. April 11. The artwork is available for purchase through the arts center’s online store.