New MOCA Jacksonville exhibits: “Unverified” and “Circumvolve: Narratives and Responses to Life Cycles”

Liliana Kendall

Art is perhaps the most liberating and creative form of expression in which the artist turns their abstract thoughts and feelings into physical meaning. The emotional expression behind many pieces is undeniable. Surreal images provoke thought and imagination, and colorful paintings invoke a nostalgic resonance. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville’s UNF exhibits, Unverified and Circumvolve, successfully create these effects. The receptions for these exhibits were held in the UNF Gallery and the MOCA Education Gallery Thursday, Jan. 11 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

All photos by Liliana Kendall

Photography as a medium of art offers a realistic (or unrealistic) image for the viewer to interpret and analyze for themselves. Challenging the ordinary nature of photography, Unverified features images that use real-world settings with dreamlike elements to convey the storytelling qualities of a photograph. Featured artists like Kahn & Selesnick, Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger, Lori Nix, Robert and Shana Parke Harrison, Jennifer B. Thoreson and Thomas Jackson present ethereal scenes that allow the viewer to explore their imaginations, creating their own narratives based on their interpretation of the image’s meaning. The works featured in Unverified make unrealities like legends, myths and fictional tales seem limitless and nearly possible. Curated by UNF Assistant Professors of Photography Kally Malcom and Alexander Diaz, Unverified will remain on exhibition until March 25.

For more information, check out Malcom and Diaz’s websites:

All artwork by Rachel Huff Smith. All photos by Liliana Kendall

A myriad of emotions serve as inspirations for any artwork. For MOCA’s UNF student-in-residence Rachel Huff Smith, the joy of motherhood and the pain of losing her mother and grandmother inspired her colorful, yet lifelike depictions of relationships and the life cycle. Circumvolve: Narratives and Responses to Life Cycles tells the story of life from beginning to end, juxtaposing darkness with light. Smith began her residency in May 2017, and spent nine months preparing for the exhibit. Smith built the canvases herself, painting them with vibrant oils and acrylics.  Particular artwork titled “Tired of Missing You (2017)” depicts Smith’s self portrait with the shadowy faces of her mother, grandmother, and herself painted over her likeness. Painted with dark browns and shaded with strokes of blue, the painting exudes a longing sadness, wanting to move on.

The most poignant collection of pieces was the triage of Smith’s mother’s portrait and Smith’s portrait surrounding the likeness of her young daughter. The portrait of her mother titled “Laugh With Me” (2017) and the self portrait “So Thankful I Have Your Smile” (2017) were taken from the same photograph, according to Smith. The two paintings appear to smile at the portrait of Smith’s daughter in the middle, titled “Shine Baby Shine” (2017).

“Part of what I was able to achieve [in this exhibit] was fluidity of mind and movement,” said Smith. “I was able to retain [that] while still having enough detail.” Smith said this consistency was hard to maintain as she went back and added more details to pieces.

Smith’s installment will remain on exhibition until March 18.

To see more of Smith’s works during her residency, be sure to browse her website:

Unverified is located on the second floor of the MOCA in the UNF Gallery. Circumvolve: Narratives and Responses to Life Cycles can be found on the fifth floor in the MOCA Education Gallery. Admission to MOCA Jacksonville is free for UNF students with proof of an Osprey1Card. The museum is open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday (Thursday’s hours apply to the first Wednesday of every month for Artwalk).


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