SUNY Cortland’s Dowd Gallery is inviting people to come out of their pandemic-induced isolation and remember how to play.
“(re)Play,” a solo show by Brooklyn-based artist David B. Smith, launches the gallery’s spring semester exhibitions with a series of recent and re-interpreted fabric-based sculptures, objects, collages, installations and interactive environments.
The exhibition opened Monday, Jan. 23, and will run through Friday, Feb. 24. Visitors will experience playfully constructed fiber environments resembling other-worldly bodies and landscapes that border on abstraction. Smith pushes traditional arts-and-crafts mediums like textiles, photography, embroidery, tufting and painting to new territories.
An opening reception and exhibition tour will be held in the gallery from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26. The gallery is in the Dowd Fine Arts Center on the corner of Prospect Terrace and Graham Avenue in Cortland.
The exhibition is free and open to the public, as are the opening reception and all exhibition-related events. These include a virtual artist’s talk, a gallery walk-through, an artist’s workshop, a documentary screening and additional live and virtual presentations that contribute new perspectives on the exhibit.
Smith noted how, during the pandemic, people were separated from communal spaces and lost connection to each other, to their somatic experience and the practice of interaction and improvisation.
“By re-introducing my earlier interactive installations, visitors are encouraged to come out of their shells and rediscover their joy and curiosity,” he said. “And through presenting my intricate collages, soft sculptures and photographic weavings, I want to share my vulnerability and creativity by offering a visual, communal meeting place for others to explore theirs.”
Besides the ideas of play, the exhibition offers a meeting place between disciplines such as textile art, psychology, biology and gender studies. Objects on display make space for visitors to explore not only the art but themselves, their actions and intentions.
“The process of my work is central to its meaning,” Smith said. “I begin by having emotionally resonant images from digital collective memory woven into a fabric, which I then use to create work composed of beings and phenomena from imagined other worlds.”
Visitors can physically interact with certain pieces: for example, sliding colorful translucent textile collages along taut wires to alter the architecture, light and aesthetic tone of the space.
“By using these objects to create ephemeral environments, I invite the viewer to build a dialogue around fictional habitats as a way to re-imagine our relation to identity, gender, biology, ecology, psychological health, problem-solving, memory and the joy of improvisation and play,” Smith said.
Smith’s process of re-interpreting narratives and offering what’s possible aims to invite viewers into this layered and unique process, potentially sparking them to consider their own creative practices, whether they be art or in any other discipline.
Accompanying “(re)Play” in the adjacent Hallway Gallery is a display of works from Smith’s earlier exhibitions, “Forms of Potential.”
The Dowd Gallery website and social media contain detailed information about additional programs to the opening reception and contain online link invitations to “(re)Play” virtual events. Visit the Facebook, Instagram and the Dowd Gallery website. Live events are in the gallery unless noted otherwise.
“(re)Play events will include:
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with extended hours until 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and by appointment. Visit the Dowd Gallery website for details about exhibiting artists, other programs, safety protocols and online booking. For more information or to inquire about an appointment, tour or additional images, contact Gallery Director Jaroslava Prihodova at 607-753-4216.
“(re)Play” is supported by the Art and Art History Department, Art Exhibition Association and a Campus Artist and Lecture Series grant.