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Contact: Janet Clarkson Davis
For Immediate Release

BROKEN OPEN, a Five-Artist Exhibition Focusing on Themes of Gender, Identity and Sexuality, Opened at Museum of New Art - Portsmouth (MONA)

Portsmouth, NH—The Museum of New Art - Portsmouth (MONA) is proud to announce its second exhibition, BROKEN OPEN, a group show curated by Hilary Schaffner.  Featuring Bianca Beck, Joy Curtis, Jennie Jieun Lee, Brie Ruais and Aparna Sarkar, this exhibit explores the body as a resource for creation. The works in the exhibition take root in each artist's personal history and touch on themes of gender, identity and sexuality.

The exhibition includes sculptures, paintings, video and ceramics.  BROKEN OPEN: Exploring the Body as a Resource opened in April and will run through September 2022. BROKEN OPEN is presented in the 6,800 sq. ft. space at the newly restored and renovated 1905 YMCA building in downtown Portsmouth.  On July 7th, 2022, 5:30-6:30 pm, artist Brie Ruais will visit MONA for an Artist Talk + Tour, with opening remarks from curator Hilary Schaffner.

Both Brie Ruais and Aparna Sarkar explore the question how a piece of art can record the body. Ruais uses bodily force as an artistic tool while Sakar scratches, scrapes and rubs up against her paintings expressing her own interest in the indexical quality of gesture. The body serves as a totem in Bianca Beck’s large-scale sculptures. The imagined internal spaces of veins and organs rendered in bright, neon colors envelop Beck’s papier-mâché surfaces. Joy Curtis’s sculptures are created from hand-dyed canvas, commercially printed fabrics, and cast bronze. Her skeletal constructions reference corsets, medieval dress and other ways in which clothing have confined and defined the way a woman’s body is experienced.  Jennie Jieun Lee challenges traditional notions of physical perfection. Through a series of sculpting, embossing, printing, painting, and drawing, the classic form of the body, or vessel, is recontextualized through her ceramic busts, masks and paintings.

From the curator:

“The works in this exhibition are messy. The perfection of formalism is nowhere in sight. From Bianca Beck’s roughhewn papier-mâché surfaces to Joy Curtis’s tattered fabrics, to Jennie Jiuen Lee’s pours of glaze across her ceramic busts, to Brie Ruais’s expansive stretched clay, and to Aparna Sarkar’s scratched canvas, the markers of expression are ever present. The works are steeped in each artist's personal history as themes of gender, identity, and sexuality serve as guideposts from which they excavate. The body is messy as well; to inhabit one is a complex proposition made even more complex by the systems that try to define it. As the title implies, each artist has broken open their own systems of being. They are exploring the uncharted possibility of what it means to possess a physical form solely unto themselves.”

Hilary Schaffner's experience in the art world spans almost twenty years. In 2011 she co-founded Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton, New York with the goal of bringing mid-career and emerging artists to the area. Prior to founding the gallery, she received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts while working as Director of the Wild Project Gallery on the Lower East Side of New York.  In addition to working in the commercial arena, Hilary spent several years working in public relations for arts institutions. Her clients included the Dia Art Foundation, Isamu Noguchi Foundation and the Cisneros Foundation. She has been a guest critic at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, NY; School of Visual Arts, NY, Parsons School of Design, NY and MECA, ME. Her curatorial work has been featured in Artforum, ArtNews, Interview, The East Hampton Star, Modern Painters and Vogue. Hilary currently lives and works in Portland, Maine.

MONA will support its mission to serve the community as a cultural center with a partnership with Maine based non-profit, Soul Models. MONA will host two one-week workshops for middle school girls in the museum July 18-22 and August 8-12. Visit www.monaportsmouth.org for more detail. This will provide Soul Models the opportunity to host their academic year curriculum in their first summer session.

BROKEN OPEN will open to the public until September 25, 2022.  The museum is open Tuesday–Wednesday, 11am to 6pm, Thursday through Saturday, 11am to 7pm and Sunday, 11am to 5pm. MONA is closed on Mondays.

About MONA

The Museum of New Art (MONA) in Portsmouth, NH is a Seacoast art space exclusively dedicated to the contemporary visual arts.  With the mission of serving the area as a center of innovative exhibitions, education and community engagement, MONA is part of the newly restored 1905 YMCA building at the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth. For more information, please contact Shannon Bowser, Executive Director.


Broken Open Brie Ruais Destruction and Discovery » MONA Portsmouth