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Laconia Gallery


The Landscape of Our Minds

Behind VA Shadows

Friday, February 3, 2023 to Sunday, April 16, 2023

First Fridays 6-8 PM
Sundays 1-4 PM
Closed Easter Sunday, April 9

Opening reception Fri, Feb 3

Curator: Yolanda He Yang | Initiator and Director of Behind VA Shadows Project

Public Programs

  • Fri, Feb 3, 6–8 PM | Opening Reception
  • Fri, Feb 17, 5–9 PM | Poetry Writing Workshop with L Scully
  • Fri, Feb 24, 6-8 PM | Sound & Drawing workshop with Mariana Rey & Denver Nuckolls & Poetry reading by Jose Cortez
  • Fri, Mar 3, 6–8 PM | Artist talk with Brett Angell, Theodora Earthwurms, BARD, Patrick Brennan & Maria Servellon
  • Thu, Mar 16, 7 PM | L Scully hosts curated evening of reading by Boston writers
  • Fri, Mar 17, 6–8 PM | Sound & Drawing workshop with Mariana Rey & Denver Nuckolls
  • Fri, Mar 24, 6–8 PM | Performance by Janella Mele
  • Fri, Mar 31, 6–8 PM | Artist talks by Emily Falcigno, Will Weygint, Jarrod White, Christina M. Tedesco, L Scully, & Katelyn Leaird
  • Fri, Apr 7, 6–8 PM | Curator Talk & Public Discussion with Yolanda He Yang & Jose Cortez
A black and white image of a gallery

Work by Parker Kerrigan

The Landscape of Our Minds brings together a diverse group of artworks by frontline staff from ICA/Boston, deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum, MIT List Visual Arts Center, MIT Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, MFA, Boston, Montserrat College of Art Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, and Leica Gallery, Boston.

Showcasing a myriad of mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, music, film, and various gallery programs, the exhibition delves into how the perception of time differs for the frontline staff, allowing the overlapped, multi-dimensional worlds of each individual to unfold in a physical setting.

Looking closely at the objects that make up an art institution, artists offer zoomed-in views and private gallery observations. Stephen Holness, who works at MFA, Boston, highlights the forgotten utilitarian objects in the museum—Valves. These forgotten utilitarian objects in the museum share similarities with the frontline staff—necessary but often are overlooked. Visitor Assistant from the ICA/Boston, Ashley Cristiano, draws the artist’s reflection of the jumbled thought processes when Cristiano stands still in the galleries with her circulating thought. For Cristiano, standing still only increases the multitude and power of thoughts. In Artist Parker Kerrigan’s The Bleeding and Blurring of Versailles, a resin-coated print, it takes a stereoscope slide of a hall in Versailles and contorts into unrecognizability. The painting replicates the feeling of disassociation that museum staff can feel during long hours.

The highly-demanded presence of the frontline staff often creates a crispy collision between their public and private presentation. Artist Will Weygint, a gallery staff from Montserrat College of Art, introduces the psychological condition known as Stewardess Syndrome. In Weygint’s painting, the artist reflects that museum workers and hospitality have a lot of overlapping scenarios where they are confronted with challenging consumers and are pressured to present positive emotions, despite feeling internal stress. Likewise, in Earthwurms’ painting titled afab—assigned female at birth—the artist brings up complicated feelings about identity and presentation to the public. The artworks that come from various museums’ staff seek to facilitate a different relationship between the artists and the audience in a setting that is not unfamiliar, further revealing the complexity of these individuals.

About Behind VA Shadows

As the second gallery show of Behind VA Shadows Project, The Landscape of Our Minds highlights the contribution of frontline museum staff who have been making safe and engaging galleries for visitors. Frontline positions in art museums usually don’t offer health insurance with a low payment. The Landscape of Our Minds reveals the psychological richness embodied by the featuring artists and invites visitors to come closer to both the space and the emotion. Behind VA Shadows is a creative collaboration initiated by Visitor Assistants (VAs) who provide extraordinary educational service at the ICA/Boston. Through providing a supportive platform for art museums’ staff, Behind VA Shadows incubates the creative conversation through artworks to push possible institutional change. Our vision is to advocate for better working conditions for all museum workers. We accept all kinds of work from anyone who worked/is working in an art museum worldwide.

Featured Artists

Ashley Cristiano
Brett Angell
Christina M. Tedesco
Elisabeth Gerald
Emily Falcigno
Jackson Boerner
Jarrod White
Jeannie Dale
Jonathan Talit
Katelyn Leaird
Kayla Scullin
Liam Coughlin
Liam Joseph Mahoney
L Scully
Maria Servellon
Mariana Rey
Melissa Gutierrez
Parker Kerrigan
Patrick Brennan
Ryan Ricci
Stephen Holness
Theodora Earthwurms
Will Weygint
Willow Machado

Work by Ashley Cristiano

Work by Stephen Holness

Behind VA Shadows - Call For 6 Themes for Online Exhibits, 2023

Behind VA Shadows now seek six themes for our non-juried online exhibits in 2023. The theme will be served as a “Call for Art” for art museum staff to participate with their artworks. Since Behind VA Shadows is a specific community-based project, we only accept themes from staff working at art museums. We prioritize themes submitted by frontline staff, such as admission desk staff, gallery assistants, gallery educators, guards, and marginalized staff, such as student volunteers.

You can give us a theme and a brief write-up (200 words) alone or with your friends who also work at the art museums. Email or dm us through IG: behindvashadows Let us know what spicy and artsy conversation you want to see and host for 2023!