Exhibitions at Colorado Universities are engaging rich and diverse content

Although the universities in Fort Collins and Greeley take up a large footprint in our communities, often forgotten are the amazing cultural resources they provide — not just to students but to residents alike. Sometimes, parking can be tricky and learning your way around campus can make you feel like a freshman all over again, but the challenge is worth it and, putting these galleries on your radar is a must.

One of the easier museums to access is the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, located in the original Fort Collins High School building on Remington Street just west of the campus. With a new name and a 6,000-square-foot addition in 2016, the museum boasts one of the best permanent collections in the area. Currently on display is Off Kilter, On Point: Art Of The 1960s from The Permanent Collection and To Survive On This Shore: Photographs And Interviews With Transgender And Gender Nonconforming Older Adults.

It may seem as if exposure to the nonconforming and trans population is a new phenomenon, but these are individuals who have existed since the dawn of humanity. Opening Feb. 1, To Survive On This Shore by photographer Jess Dugan presents intimate portraits of aging trans and nonconforming people. Dugan’s work, created over five years in partnership with social worker Vanessa Fabbre, brings to light these individuals whose life experiences exist within the nuanced intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and socioeconomic class. One of the most compelling parts of this work is the accompanying interviews (a small sample can be accessed here). In their own words, Dugan’s subjects share a window into their lives and how their unique experiences have shaped them.

“We wanted to record the history,” Dugan said. “Many people we photographed and interviewed had done significant activism and had helped us for where we are today. Many of these people came out prior to the internet, but their stories have not been told.” The portfolio of work and the stories have been purchased by the museum to become part of the permanent collection, a record for generations to enjoy. To Survive On This Shore will be on display through May 18.

Also premiering this month in the new space in the Campus Commons on the University of Northern Colorado campus in Greeley is
ConStructs and ConFines by artist-in-residence and alumni Jessica Forrestal. Forrestal’s work is site-specific and her installation on the UNC campus is drawn over the walls and floor of the new space. With themes that explore American consumer culture, mass production and consumption, Forrestal plays with bold black-and-white imagery iconic of diagram stylization and investigates the intersection of humans, objects and environment.

Forrestal describes her process in a unique approach to ordinary objects. “The inanimate object has a life much, much greater than what we choose to perceive on a day to day basis,” she said. “The work is about taking that object and trying to bring it more alive and give it more of a biological feel so that we can relate it to ourselves. It becomes more human-like. Therefore, we can suddenly relate to it in a different way.”

The artist speaks of recurring themes within her work such as in the wheeled caster, intrigued not only by its unique form but its possibility of movement.  “Everything is on casters so that we can have this flexibility of movement, so we are not hindered by our spaces anymore,” she says. “That mobility piece has led to our mass consumption in some ways because we can move that out (of) the way. Our society, at least in the U.S., has become a very mobile society. People don’t stay in homes for 30 years, they don’t invest in thousand-dollar pieces of furniture. … We aren’t forming attachments to handcrafted pieces anymore.”

The work questions very serious issues, but its animated execution has a playfulness that provides an entry for further exploration. Forrestal has been installing the show with public access and interaction throughout January and the new space is host to a wealth of events that highlight the work as a backdrop to some amazing offerings such as weekly jazz jam sessions and extended art events such as workshops on social media marketing by Denver consultants ArtBoss, and installation practice workshops. These events often are free and open to the public. A full listing of offerings can be found at https://arts.unco.edu/art/galleries/programs

Gregory Allicar Museum of Art
University of Colorado
1400 Remington St., Fort Collins

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday

  • Off Kilter, On Point: Art Of The 1960s From The Permanent Collection
    Jan. 22 – April 13
  • To Survive On This Shore: Photographs And Interviews With Transgender And Gender Nonconforming Older Adults, photos by Jess Dugan.
    Feb.1 – May 18
  • Jess Dugan Artist Talk
    5:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15
    The Griffin Concert Hall, University Center for the Arts

Campus Commons Gallery
University of Northern Colorado
1051 22nd St., Greeley

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays

  •  ConStructs and ConFines, by Jessica Forrestal
    Exhibition On View: Feb. 7 – March 30
  • Reception: 4- 7 p.., Thursday, Feb. 7
  • Artist Talk: 5-6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21
  • Workshop: 2 – 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26
About Jennifer Folsom 6 Articles
Jen Folsom (b. 1975) is an artist and educator based in Fort Collins. She earned an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design and currently is an instructor at UNC and FRCC and has been published nationally covering arts and culture. Follow me at @alchemyfoto on instagram

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