AVA Gallery and Art Center is pleased to present three solo exhibitions featuring Margaret Jacobs: Kinship Compositions | Rebecca Lawrence Gallery Entry and Clifford B. West Gallery; Nancy Sepe: Something from Nothing | Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery; Li Shen: The Enduring Book | E.N. Wennberg Gallery. These artists work in multiple materials and disciplines, with a shared interest in storytelling through objects they each consider to be culturally or socially significant.
Margaret Jacobs: Kinship Compositions |“The works on view highlight botanicals and relationship objects, items that hold cultural, personal, and familial importance– to reclaim and learn about my Akwesasne Mohawk ancestral culture, values, and knowledge along with my familial narratives and knowledge. My jewelry works explore ways of reclaiming and relearning Indigenous knowledge systems to establish paths toward self-sustainability and decolonization. I am creating physical objects that can visually help us to learn and remember by depicting eastern botanicals which are used medicinally, culturally, and/or nutritionally. My fabricated, steel sculptures meld historical narratives with personal narratives so layers of storytelling develop in my work. In much of my work I am honoring the history of the Mohawk high steel workers that built skyscrapers in every US city; along with intermingling plants that remind me of my childhood and family.” —Margaret Jacobs
Born and raised in northern New York, Margaret Jacobs is an enrolled member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe. Jacobs is a 2018 awardee from the Rebecca Blunk Fund through New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and a 2019 recipient of the Artist in Business Leadership Award through the First Peoples Fund. Jacobs has participated in several artist residencies including at Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, MN and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT where she received a Native American Fellowship through the Harpo Foundation. She has shown her work nationally including shows at the Boise Art Museum in Idaho; the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA and 516 arts in Albuquerque, NM. Her work has been featured in print and online press including at mic.com in the article 11 Native American Artists Whose Work Redefines What It Means to be American. Jacobs attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH where she graduated with high honors for her thesis work and received the Perspectives on Design (POD) award. She is known for her sculpture, jewelry, and drawings, and she uses all three approaches to explore the tension and harmony between natural and man-made, often intermingling unexpected and contradicting materials to explore those relationships.
Nancy Sepe: Something from Nothing | “Using common materials, digital and time-based media, I create frameworks and forms which reference invisible and intangible aspects of life. The content of my work is derived from personal and human experience and observation paired with elements from the unconscious. I use illustration, geometric form, movement and interaction to reference dwelling, figure, and imagined narrative. My studio process is exploratory and experimental; I insert content into objects constructed from traditional building materials and contemporary digital tools. Throughout all media I incorporate pattern and repetition as a means of meditative engagement.” —Nancy Sepe
Nancy Sepe uses digital media and sculptural materials to create work that references dwelling, figure, and experience. Combining rawness with precision, she incorporates digital technology into common materials. Having lived in rural CT, upstate NY, and New York City. Sepe’s work has been influenced by the post-industrial landscape and products made by hand and machine. Her work as an illustrator and designer also informs her wallpapers, drawings, and paintings. She holds a BFA in studio art from Alfred University and an MFA in digital media from UMass Dartmouth. She has exhibited her work in galleries and museums across the United States.
Li Shen: The Enduring Book | “When I was a young child, I would refuse to eat unless my mother read to me; I was captivated by the wonders in books. After I learned to read, books became a preoccupation, especially in the turbulent years of adolescence. Books were reliable companions in a world where relationships with people seemed fraught with pitfalls and disappointments, I could escape and get lost in a world of imagination that offered something not found in real life. When I relocated to the US and then to Vermont, living as a rural person for the first time, I found there was soil to dig, plants to grow, and other projects galore. When I discovered a gulf between an idea and its execution in the real world, books came to my rescue.” —Li Shen
Li Shen came to the US as a biomedical researcher in the field of Immunology. After ten years of ceramics, her interest turned to working sculpturally with mixed media and metal, including wire weaving and welding. Her work has been shown in various AVA gallery shows and at Alwun House in Phoenix AZ. She has been a frequent contributor to Woodstock’s SculptureFest, and Spirit of Place inHuntingdon, VT, as well as featured in site-specific sculpture shows at the Carving Studio in West Rutland (1999), Helen Day Art Center, Blythewold Arboretum, Rhode Island (1996) and Kansas City Art Institute (1998). In the mid-2000’s she developed an interest in digital photography. Her work has been juried into numerous shows at Darkroom Gallery, Essex Junction, VT and PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury, VT. Shen is also a writer and contributes weekly cultural and news articles to Sidenote, a hyperlocal news outlet centered on her hometown of Thetford, VT.
Artist Talk: Margaret Jacobs, Clifford B. West Gallery | Friday, September 2, 2022 | 4-4:45 PM, Opening Reception: 5-7PM
Artist Talk: Nancy Sepe, Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery | Friday, September 9, 5:30-6:30 PM