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Gallery Coordinator: Timothy Blunk

Upcoming Exhibitions

Running Girls 

28 mixed media works on paper by Mary Mihelic with installation and performance works. 

Dates: February 9 – April 3, 2015.

Opening Reception: Tuesday, February 17, 6:00 p.m. at Gallery Bergen, West Hall, 3rd floor.

This exhibition is planned in coordination with the March 25, 2015 #BringBackOurGirls Conference organized by the Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, Phi Theta Kappa, Women’s History Month, Student Government Association, and the Office of Student Life. 

“The Running Girl artworks are inspired by the courage of the 53 schoolgirls who ran for their lives and escaped from the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria when they attacked their school.  The term Boko Haram translated means Western education is a sin and the group believes that women should not be educated; instead women should be used as cooks or sex slaves.   These artworks reflect on war under the guise of religion -- religious freedom -- education for women --and global feminism.” – Mary Mihelic

The Artwork

The Running Girls series is in-progress. 53 images are projected to represent each of the 53 girls who escaped from their captors. 28 of these mixed media works will be shown at Gallery Bergen.  The works themselves are large: 60” x 40” – nearly life-sized for 12 or 13 year-old girl – and most are abstractly figurative – often referring to running. The profusion of curved lines on paper and the use of negative space create a sense of vulnerability and energy without overstatement. Their subtle use of text often refers to literacy and numeracy – skills that women under Boko Haram would be prevented from attaining.

A site-specific installation will create a section of a running track through the gallery, with textual references to the kidnapped girls. 

Another installation will be comprised of backpacks that are being collected by BCC’s Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, the Student Government Association, Phi Theta Kappa, and Women’s History Month to raise awareness of the abductions and continued captivity of the Nigerian 223 girls, as well as the struggle of women worldwide for education and human rights.

Several performance art “running events” with volunteers from the BCC community are planned for the month of March.

 

About the Artist

Mary Mihelic received her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Parsons the New School for Design in 2006. Since then, her artworks have been shown in New York City, Chicago, L.A., Key West, Vermont and D.C.  Prior to getting her M.F.A., Mary studied art extensively at the Museum School in Boston and at the SMFA’s programs in Venice, Italy.  Her studio is in Brooklyn.  

An excerpt from her artist statement reads, “In a time when people are leaving churches in record numbers and the historic relationship between religion and the art world has washed away, I make art about those things that bring us to our knees and humble us in 2015: the power of the ocean, the meltdown of a nuclear power plant, the courage of 53 school girls running for their lives.... the moments that transcend religion.”

As an artist, she is fascinated by the way the imagination makes God a reality in the form of faith.  Her Catholic education included being educated by the nuns at an all-girls high school. When her parents became involved with a group starting a new inter-faith organization called Common Ground, she and all five of her siblings spent their spare time studying world religions under Ron Miller and Jim Kenney at Common Ground.  (The original founders now organize the World Parliament of Religions which brings together all the religious leaders in the world every four years).  Today, she has one brother who is a Buddhist and another who worships the natural cycle of the moon and the stars.  Religious freedom is something she has always taken for granted.

Her connection to Nigeria began when she was a young girl and her father befriended a Nigerian at church.  The Nigerian was the eldest son of the Ibo Tribe, new to the Chicago area and studying at the local college.  The Chief had many wives and many children, so it was the beginning of a friendship with the entire Tribe.  In fact, during her childhood anyone visiting the US from the Ibo Nation stayed at her house. 

Since she has started the Running Girls Series, she is surprised by the number of people who have asked her about her race in relation this art.  Her reply is that her art doesn’t see race, it sees humanity
   


Combat Paper
November 11th - December 16th, 2014

Curated by Dave Keefe


EXHIBITIONS SPRING 2015 

Student Art Exhibition
April - May  2015

Curated by Bergen Community College Art Club

Open to all students on campus