Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

August 9, 2012

MOCRA Voices podcast features Archie Granot and Max Thurm

Archie Granot, The Papercut Haggadah, page 20. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.

Archie Granot, The Papercut Haggadah, page 20. Collection of Sandra and Max Thurm. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.

MOCRA’s showing of Archie Granot’s Papercut Haggadah in Spring 2012 proved to be a highly popular exhibition, one that elicited deep appreciation for Granot’s technical virtuosity and sense of design, as well as his skillful manner of reinterpreting a classic religious text for a contemporary audience.  One of our disappointments was that we could not arrange to bring Archie to MOCRA during the run of the exhibition.

Fortunately, in early May MOCRA Director Terrence Dempsey, SJ, and I had the opportunity to sit down with collector Max Thurm (who with his wife Sandra commissioned The Papercut Haggadah) in the studios of WFUV (90.7 FM) at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY. Archie joined us on the phone from his home in Jerusalem. For the next hour or so we enjoyed a wide ranging conversation covering topics such as how Archie was drawn to the art of papercutting, how the commission came about, the special considerations engaged in creating an artwork based on a sacred text, and continuity and innovation in the Jewish tradition. The rapport between Archie and Max was evident from the get-go, and their exchanges open a window on the fascinating process of collaboration between artist and patron.

We are pleased to make an edited version of this conversation available as the latest installment in the MOCRA Voices podcast. You can stream the podcast from our website, or subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store. Also be sure to check out the extensive Listening Guide, which delves further into the topics discussed and includes images of many of the pages from The Papercut Haggadah.

— David Brinker, Assistant Director

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December 1, 2011

Observing a Day With(out) Art

AIDS awareness ribbonEach year December 1 is observed throughout the world as a day of solidarity with those living with HIV/AIDS, and of remembrance of those who have died. December 1 is also Day With(out) Art, on which museums and galleries worldwide celebrate a day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis, with such events as shutting down museums, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS.

Across the nation, many venues will be screening a new film, Untitled, from filmmakers Jim Hodges, Encke King, and Carlos Marques da Cruz. Learn more about the film, and find links to participating venues, here.

A visit to MOCRA’s current exhibition, Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion, is another way to mark this special day. Kellard’s life was cut short by AIDS in 1991, and he grappled with his experience of illness through his art. His colorful woodcuts poignantly express both pain and enduring faith.

Adrian Kellard, The Promise, 1989

Adrian Kellard, "The Promise," 1989. Latex on wood. Courtesy of the Estate of Adrian Kellard.

Today we also release a special episode of the MOCRA Voices podcast series, featuring an interview with curator and art historian Thomas Sokolowski. Sokolowski was instrumental in the founding of Day With(out) Art and the creation in 1991 — 20 years ago — of the red ribbon for AIDS awareness. In this interview, Sokolowski talks about the close relationship between art and AIDS activism, and reflects on the past, present and future role of art where AIDS is concerned.

We’ve prepared an extensive Listening Guide to accompany the podcast, with information about the 20th anniversary of the red ribbon, activist art, and more.

The podcast can be streamed from MOCRA’s website or downloaded from the iTunes Store. Visit the MOCRA Voices website to get the podcast and explore the Listening Guide.

As we pause to reflect, remember, and renew on this day, let us recommit ourselves to generous and untiring support and care for those living with HIV/AIDS,  and redouble our efforts to find a cure. Let us cultivate, as Adrian Kellard urged, healing — the learned art of compassion.

— David Brinker, Assistant Director

November 14, 2011

Adrian Lee Kellard, 1/28/59 – 11/14/91

Adrian Kellard with The Promise

Kellard in his apartment, ca. 1990, with "The Promise."

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of artist Adrian Kellard’s death. In a recent post, I quoted some of the entries in the exhibition guest book to give an anecdotal sense of the effect his art and life have on our visitors. On this anniversary day, we share a brief reflection from Kellard’s close friend, artist photographer Regina DeLuise:

“To be human is to know loss. On some level I’ve never really felt without Adrian, although I long to hear his voice.

Today is the day he died. To have spent the fall season involved with The Learned Art of Compassion has made this Nov 14th most remarkable for me. Adrian’s life was one filled with passion, dedication and love. Even though he died young, his life felt complete to me. Knowing his work needed to be in the world has been running parallel to my own personal aspirations, rather like living two lives. This exhibition represents a birth to me, a true future for the life’s work of my dear friend.
— Regina DeLuise”

N.B. A recently posted episode of the MOCRA Voices podcast features Regina DeLuise and others reminiscing about Kellard. Click here for more information and to listen to the podcast.

— David Brinker, Assistant Director

November 10, 2011

Adrian Kellard: Marking 20 Years

November 14, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of artist Adrian Kellard’s death. This significant date, along with the 30-year anniversary of the identification of HIV as the virus that causes AIDS, was in our consciousness as we planned the exhibition Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion.

One way to mark an anniversary is to share memories and stories of the deceased. Recently MOCRA’s Director, Terrence Dempsey, S.J., was joined by Kellard’s dear friend Regina DeLuise and his gallery dealer, Susan Schreiber, to look back at the artist’s life and legacy. All three knew him well, and the ensuing conversation elicited stories both humorous and poignant. This conversation was recorded and is available to the public through the MOCRA Voices podcast. You can stream or download the audio from the MOCRA website, or if you like, subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

However, in a sense Kellard’s story continues to unfold as new audiences discover his work through the MOCRA exhibition. One of Kellard’s sisters attended the opening in September and brought with her a small journal that served as the guest book for the last exhibition prior to his death, in October 1991. She asked if we might make the book available to our visitors as well.

Guest book for Adrian Kellard exhibition.

Guest book for Adrian Kellard exhibition.

Glancing through the book, I’m struck by one of the last entries from 1991, written by Jed Devine, who organized that exhibition:

Adrian–

Thank you for the most powerful and beautiful show we have had in this space. You are magnificent.

It is followed on the next page by the first entry from 2011:

This is truly one of the best exhibits MOCRA has done. … Truly REMARKABLE!!!

His work seems to elicit comments from deep places in many visitors. Here are a few excerpts from the past month-and-a-half:

Thank you for loaning me your eyes through your art — you have refreshed me and renewed my faith and spirituality. Your death has been transformed into gift that allows me to draw close and be instructed by your heart.

*****

Wonderfully evocative and sensually intelligent reflections of faith and identity. The dimensions of shape and use of color really make my heart sing and inspire deep reflections.

*****

The works of God have been made manifest in you, Adrian. Thank you for opening your life and faith to the world through such compassion, beauty, and truth.

We invite you to come and see the exhibition, and if you are so moved, to add your own words to this small testament to the impact of one artist whose work is a manifestation of a life lived with remarkable integrity, focus, creativity, and compassion. In the words of another visitor:

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

–David Brinker, Assistant Director

November 7, 2011

New on MOCRA Voices: Adrian Kellard podcast

MOCRA Voices logoEarly this year we launched MOCRA Voices, a podcast series of conversations with thinkers and practitioners at the intersection of contemporary art, religion, and spirituality. Our aim is to take listeners in-depth with artists, scholars, theologians, religious leaders, and others who are engaged in the ongoing dialogue between visual art and the religious and spiritual dimensions.

We’ve just posted a new episode that focuses on the art and life of Adrian Kellard, the subject of MOCRA’s current exhibition, Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion. Host John Launius and MOCRA Director Terrence E. Dempsey, S.J., are joined by Regina DeLuise, a close friend of Kellard and an artist photographer in her own right, and Susan Schreiber, Kellard’s New York gallery dealer. Dempsey, DeLuise, and Schreiber share stories of Kellard that serve to illuminate his artistic aims and influences, his distinctive visual style and treatment of his woodcut medium, and the ways in which Kellard’s upbringing, sexual orientation, and faith found expression in his work.

In addition to the podcast itself, we’ve prepared an extensive listening guide that provides context about the East Village art scene, the early years of the AIDS pandemic, the art of woodcuts, and more.

MOCRA Voices is made possible with financial support from the Regional Arts Commission.

–David Brinker, Assistant Director

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