University Museum of Contemporary Art marks final week of ‘40 Years, 40 Artists’ exhibit

By Rachel Ravelli

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

The University Museum of Contemporary Art, located in the basement of the Fine Arts Center, is marking the final week of its six-week exhibition, “40 Years, 40 Artists,” which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the museum on campus.

Created in 1975, the museum strives to bring contemporary international art onto the University of Massachusetts campus. And with this year marking an important anniversary, it is calling for the recognition of former artists affiliated with the University.

The museum has received 46 donations – six more than it had aimed for – from world-renowned artists who have participated in both exhibitions and education programs at UMass. Many of these artists trained in the museum itself.

UMCA hopes this collection will open dialogue about ideas which challenge contemporary society.

Famous for his politically provocative pop art, Andy Warhol is the exhibition’s only featured artist who was never directly affiliated with UMass. His paintings are a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. In 2007, the foundation made a donation of 28,543 of Warhol’s photographs to 183 colleges across the nation, 150 of which went to UMass.

“Andy Warhol has been attracting much of the exhibit’s attention,” said Amanda Urquhart, a UMass art student. “These pieces are important yet relatively unknown.”

Each of the exhibit’s artists demonstrate their own way of challenging culture as they explore identity among capitalism and industrialism. Some pieces advocate environmentalism, such as Sheron Rupp’s “Innisfree Garden,” which uses nature, shape and passage to consider transient human presence among greater landscapes.

Other pieces, such as Jefferson Pinder’s “Invisible Man,” examine issues of race and class in America.

Pinder, like other artists in this exhibit, links notable literature to his own perspective by expanding interpretations of identity struggle. Such pieces are not only political statements like Warhol’s, but rather they explore mind, truth and identity through simple observations.

Some artists used local influences. Joel Sternfeld’s “East Meadows” photographs depict nature clashing with human consumption in Northampton.

“All of the artists were here for the opening,” Urquhart said. “So it was a unique opportunity for students to collaborate with helpful professionals.”

Exhibitions by the UMCA are open to the public and are free of charge and “40 Years, 40 Artists” will run until March 8.

Rachel Ravelli can be reached at [email protected].