Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

New Massart Museum Exhibit seeks to celebrate authentic expression within the everyday

Mel Taing
Installation view. The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression. October 5 2023 – May 19, 2024. MassArt Art Museum, Boston.

Coinciding with the 150-year anniversary of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a new exhibit,The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression,” recently opened at the MassArt Art Museum. The exhibit takes its title from Gabor Maté‘s synonymous book, which addresses how the cultural and social norms we take for granted impact our overall well-being. 

Given that the exhibition coincides with celebrating the 150-year anniversary of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, much of the work focuses on historical reflection and the role of systemic and structural discrimination within everyday life and the long-term impact that has had on historically marginalized groups. 

MassArt alumni from the class of 1965 through the class of 2022 participated, allowing the exhibit to fully capture the radical changes that have occurred over the past sixty years and the opportunity to reflect on the change many hope to see going forward. 

Various unconventional mediums are on display, including Mimi Smiths’ “Recycle Coat,” a rain jacket composed of discarded paper towels, napkins, bottle caps and paper cups. This no doubt serves as a reminder of the exhibition’s goal of highlighting the various forms authentic expression can take. 

One of the most striking works was undoubtedly Paul S. Briggs’s “Cell Personae: The Impact of Incarceration on Black Lives.” Fifteen intricately carved slab and coil structures were evenly positioned and displayed on a wall, all with unique designs that seem to contort themselves around the slabs in various positions. Briggs’ work draws a parallel between mass incarceration and the generational impact it has on the families that have experienced it.

Ascending the staircase, visitors are greeted by a series of ornate murals, created by Felipe Ortiz, depicting a yellow and orange sky that spreads over the city skyline whilst a warm sun shines overhead. It sits juxtaposed with another ornate mural by Ortiz, although this depiction is much more, as an indigo sky sits atop a jungle setting in stark contrast to its neighboring city scene. 

Though the murals created by Ortiz are likely the most conventional works on display in an exhibit dedicated to questioning the standard conventions about art, the contrast they create when placed next to each other calls attention to the immigrant experience and the strife brought about by leaving home.

Tim, a staff member at MAAM, voiced his feelings toward the exhibit and what it hopes to accomplish as the school enters its 150th year. 

“I think The Myth of Normal does a really good job at highlighting the experiences of MassArt alumni. It’s a unique exhibition, and it’s a good reminder of the school’s history. It seems to inspire a lot of empathy in our visitors, and I think people walk away from it with more appreciation for the people they meet,” __ said. 

Rather than choosing to focus on one medium or theme, “The Myth Of Normal” allows its artists to present the reality of the lives they’ve led and both the hardship and joy that comes with that. Visitors will walk away with a deep sense of understanding and appreciation for the artists who have so vividly incorporated their lived experiences into their work. 

The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression at the MassArt Art Museum Oct 7. and will be on display through May 19. Entrance is always free.

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