The new Lufrano Gallery exhibition on campus UNF students can experience

Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor

Located in the John A. Delaney Student Union, The Lufrano Intercultural Gallery is presenting a new, unique art experience for students at no cost. The exhibit,‘YET WE ARE: Personal Narrative and Shared History,’ examines relationships between the singular and collective regarding identity information, histories, community building, resistance, and cultural response. 

The exhibit features artist works that showcase ways to include minority voices and stories through interesting and visual media. Viewers of the works of art are encouraged to read the artist bios of each work to consider how each topic intersects with dominant American histories and the effects of the narratives on our modern culture today. 

Jessica Borusky is the Gallery Director and Instructor in the UNF Department of Art, Art History, and Design. They oversee the Lufrano gallery, the UNF gallery of Art, as well as the UNF gallery at Moca Jacksonville. Spinnaker sat down with them to understand more about the unique exhibit. Borusky has a background in contemporary art. 

When selecting artists, they constantly think about what is the current art of the time. They discussed that the exhibition is an opportunity to unpack some multi varied histories to really think about them as a polyvocal circumstance and not one with a singular and dominant narrative.

“I really do like curating group exhibitions with different media types because I recognize we learn differently and we enter into difficult dialogues through a variety of ways,” said Borusky. 

Works featured

When visiting the exhibit, students can anticipate finding a variety of special pieces. 

One of the most visually impactful pieces is Artist Judith G. Levy’s, ‘My Family Memoir,’ a display of 64 digital prints from her family archive on paper that cover an entire wall. Levy uses handwritten text, objects, and materials to create links between an external and internal world. Her work represents a changing world where concepts of identity take priority. The prints start conversations on idiosyncrasies of people, as well as Jewish and LGBTQI narratives. 

“I’m not going to give anything away about the piece, but I think we can all relate to the instance where you get the chance to look through your family photographs, and you hear your parents say one thing about that family member, and then you find out that your grandparents said something different about that family member,” said Borusky. “And really what you got is maybe one image of someone that you get all these stories to, and then you have to fill in the rest.” 

The piece invites spectators to consider how we build our family history and how  it connects to broader, bigger histories. 

                            Photo by Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor.

Another featured piece is the ‘Faces to Remember Project’ by artist Agnes Lopez. The project is an ongoing series of white and black photographs of elders whose amazing stories of courage and perseverance should be recorded and taught in communities. Borusky explained that Lopez’s work spoke to them in what it means to be minoritarian in a global context. 

A display by the 904WARD in partnership with Equal Justice Initiative on the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project is also featured. The display consists of locally-gathered soil in glass vessels to remember the legacy of racial terror lynchings in our country. The exhibit highlights and recognizes a critical aspect to remember about Jacksonville’s history. 

‘Arraigados en el Valle’ is an earthenware and glaze piece by artist Jessica Denise Villegas that considers how our identity shapes our personal sense of self. As a member of Mestizo offspring, Villegas explains that she has utilized the flame within herself to perpetuate accurate and transparent narratives of her community’s history and sense of reality. Villegas’s work is a perfect reflection of what it is to push through the boundaries of ceramics. 

Another featured work is ‘Visions of an Island’ by Sky Hopinka. An HD video with a 15 minute run time. It features an Unangam Tunuu elder describing cliffs, sumits, drifting birds, and deserted shores. It also features a group of students and teachers inventing games to revitalize their language, as well as a visitor wandering and chronicling the terrain. It is a visionary piece of art that offers a look inside an island at the center of the Bering Sea. 

“I watched that video three times because I thought it was so salient and beautiful,” said Borusky. 

A piece that is unmissable when you visit the gallery is ‘Ms. Merri Mack’ by artist Karmimadeebora McMillan. 

                           Photo by Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor.

McMillan explained that growing up in the south she was used to seeing racist ornaments and confederate flags in people’s yards. As a child, those images instilled fear in her. The figure that she calls ‘Ms Merri Mack’ is a character she likes to think breaks through racial stereotypes and colorism. The piece raises awareness to an important perspective that viewers are invited to take part in.

“The image of this dark-skinned little girl was used to taunt and shame those that looked like her. I refuse to believe that the color of a person’s skin makes them inferior to anyone else,” said McMillan. 

There’s a quote in the exhibit that asks “What becomes illuminated, and what remains invisible?’”

When asked what Borusky believed was the answer to that question posed, they said, “It’s always important to keep in mind that for everything we highlight, something still remains in the shadows. For every voice that we offer, there’s always folks that are silenced.” 

Borusky believes that this is an important ethos to keep in mind not only when we are learning, but when we’re teaching.

“What I’m presenting in this exhibit, it’s not finite, it’s not a period at the end of a sentence,” said Borusky. “So how do you as a viewer kinda fill in the rest of that statement?”

The exhibit opened Sep.14 and will remain open until Nov. 12. Students can visit the exhibit by going to Building 58E, Suite 2401 1 UNF Drive – Jacksonville, Florida 32224. The closing reception will be Nov. 12 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

For more information on the gallery click here.


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