Fenwick Gallery: Diaspora Diction

Fenwick Gallery at George Mason University presents Diaspora Diction, an exhibition of photography from artist Adriana Monsalve. The exhibition will run from May 28 through July 26, 2019, with an opening artist’s talk and reception on May 28 at 2:00pm in Fenwick Library. This exhibition is presented as part of the Mason Libraries Artist-in-Residence pilot program.

The first artist to participate in this pilot residency, Adriana Monsalve is a Maryland-based artist and collaborative publisher working in the photobook medium. Along with Caterina Ragg, Monsalve is co-founder of Homie House Press, a radical cooperative platform that challenges the ever-changing forms of storytelling with image and text.

Diaspora Diction collects Monsalve’s photographs, photobooks, and ongoing research into identity—and illusions of identity—in the African and Latinx diaspora. The exhibition features images from Monsalve’s first photobook, Clear as Black, a deeply personal and investigative documentary of the community and stories of individuals with a rare type of albinism found in Puerto Rico. Home to a vast hybridity of people, Puerto Rico is also the capital of the world for albinism. “There are layers upon layers that make up how albinism manifests physically, inside and out,” said Monsalve. “Albinism is not just white on this island, it’s black too. There are people who have the condition of albinism, but do not display the physical characteristics commonly known of a person with albinism. They are black, white and everything in between, and they are all people with albinism.”

Diaspora Diction also includes a second, separate body of work in progress, tentatively titled Novena. Photographed during a subsequent visit to Puerto Rico, Novena follows the family of Ricardito, one of subjects of Clear as Black, in the days immediately following the death of his grandfather, the family patriarch.

During the residency at Mason, Monsalve continued her research into these questions of identity, expanding her scope to the Melungeon communities in Appalachia. “This is investigative research in the greater world of the African diaspora. There are communities world-wide, past and present whose blackness was hidden to assimilate, prosper, and ultimately to survive. There are more that simply have no idea they are connected to something other than what mainstream world refers to as ‘white-passing.’ Folks that happen to be white aren’t taught to question that whiteness when speaking about identity, so the fact that these things fall under the scope of investigation is a wild assumption. They are never questioned, and don’t inquire about the self. The continuing research of Clear As Black, moving forward, is about this buried blackness in the North American region of Appalachia.”

The Mason Libraries Artist-in-Residence program, currently in its pilot year, invites an artist to expand or develop a project through research in the libraries’ collections and dialogue with Mason students, faculty, and library staff. More information on the Mason Libraries Artist-in-Residence program is available on the Fenwick Gallery website, http://fenwickgallery.gmu.edu/residency.

Diaspora Diction will be on display in Fenwick Gallery, located in Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus, from May 28 to July 26, 2019. The gallery is open during Library business hours; see the Library’s website at http://library.gmu.edu for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

For more information on this exhibition at Fenwick Gallery, contact Stephanie Grimm, Art and Art History Librarian, at sgrimm4@gmu.edu. For general inquiries about the University Libraries or George Mason University, contact Jessica Clark, Development and Communications Officer, at jclarkw@gmu.edu.

Artist-in-Residence: Artist’s Talk

Fenwick Gallery will present Diaspora Diction, an exhibition of photography from Adriana Monsalve, Mason Libraries’ first Artist-in-Residence. The exhibition will be on display from May 28 through July 26, 2019. Please join us for an opening artist’s talk and reception on Tuesday, May 28 at 2 p.m. in Fenwick 2001. As part of her artist’s talk, Monsalve will discuss the works included in Diaspora Diction as well as the research conducted during her residency at Mason, where she has continued her exploration of questions of identity.

Opening in Fenwick Gallery: J Carrier’s Elementary Calculus

Elementary Calculus, through a series of portraits, landscapes and still life photographs, observes the publicly private moments of migrants and refugees in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as they attempt to connect back to their homes. In photographing these peregrine foreigners, the project explores the distance between reality and desire – the want for what was and the hope for what will be – and traces the manner in which we navigate this desolate geography. The photographs resonate with the sense that in a foreign landscape distance loses its physical measure and home feels like a hazy memory, a half-remembered dream.

Elementary Calculus was published by MACK in September, 2012, and selected for numerous year end “best of” lists and was also included in the 2013 International Center of Photography Triennial. Work from J Carrier’s recent projects, Mi´raj  and In Circles, will also be published by MACK in the coming year.

Elementary Calculus will be on display April 24 – May 24, 2019, in Fenwick Gallery. Please join us on Tuesday, April 30, from 11am to 12pm in Fenwick 2001 for an artist talk with J Carrier.

About the artist: J Carrier (b. Biloxi, Mississippi) spent a decade living and working in Africa and the Middle East, and after a five year stint in Brooklyn, returned home to Washington D.C where he lives with his wife and kids.  Carrier is an assistant professor at George Mason University. He formerly taught at Cornell University, the International Center of Photography (NYC), and Western Connecticut State. He has a BS in wildlife & fisheries science and forestry from the Pennsylvania State University (1996) and an MFA from the Hartford Art School (2012).  Carrier’s commissioned work has appeared in the New York Times magazine, National Geographic, Time, Fortune, CNN, Newsweek, Men’s Journal, XXL, Dazed and Confused, Le Monde, and The Financial Times and has won many awards. He was nominated for PDN30 (2016), the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship (2013 & 2012), and the Santa Fe Prize for Photography (2011).

About Fenwick Gallery: Fenwick Gallery is located in Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The gallery is open during Library business hours; see the Library’s website at http://library.gmu.edu for the most accurate and up-to-date information. For additional information about the Gallery, visit http://fenwickgallery.gmu.edu/. For questions about this exhibition or Fenwick Gallery, contact Stephanie Grimm, Art and Art History Librarian, at sgrimm4@gmu.edu.

Mason Libraries Announces Artist-in-Residence Program Pilot

George Mason University Libraries is excited to announce a new venture: the Mason Libraries Artist-in-Residence Program. For our first (pilot) year, we’ve invited Adriana Monsalve, a photobook artist and publisher, to join us in a research and visual arts project.

Throughout April and May 2019, Monsalve will be dividing her residency between the Mason Libraries (particularly the Fenwick Gallery and the Special Collections Research Center in Fenwick Library) and the Mason School of Art to lead a series of in-class lectures and workshops, and to conduct research in the library’s photobook and artists’ book collections. The residency will conclude with an exhibition curated by Monsalve, a special artist’s talk, and the publication of a collaborative zine produced by Mason students and faculty.

“I am a storyteller and visual communicator that produces in-depth stories on identity through the nuances in between. As a daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean Republic of Colombia, I have struggled with the concept of ‘home.’ As immigrants, we are everywhere and we have to belong somewhere, so we’ve made habitats for ourselves in pocket towns of people like us. I’m documenting to show you something I’ve found and ultimately, something I am. I’m documenting so you know I was here. I am an artist, book maker, and educator… but I am still reclaiming space. I am growing into the many things that were made for me at the intersection of personal, political, and poetic.”

About Adriana Monsalve: Adriana Monsalve is an artist and collaborative publisher working in the photo book medium. Together with Caterina Ragg, they run Homie House Press from Beltsville, MD and Lambrate, Milano, Italy. HHP is a radical cooperative platform where they challenge the ever-changing forms of storytelling with image + text.

Monsalve earned a Masters in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster, London in 2013. In 2018, she was awarded the Lucie Independent Photo Book Prize for her collaborative photo book, Femme Frontera, a project which was funded by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and was part of the Master Artist Grant for 2017.

The works of Homie House Press have been collected in the Library of Congress, the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Maryland Institute College of Art, among other private collections. At Mason, you can find Monsalve’s photobooks and HHP publications in the Mason Libraries Artists’ Book Collection, housed in the Special Collections Research Center.

See more on Monsalve’s work and HHP at http://www.adrianastories.com.


This residency is sponsored by the George Mason University Libraries, the Mason School of Art, and the Mason University Life Programming Fund. For more details about the program and upcoming events, visit the Fenwick Gallery website, http://fenwickgallery.gmu.edu/residency.