New Craft-Based Exhibition Highlights Questions of Identity, Race, and Religion

By Tom McLaughlin

Visitors are invited to explore questions of identity, race, and religion in a new craft-based, multisensory exhibition at Rutgers University–Camden.

Angela Ellsworth

The exhibition, “Seamless: Craft-Based Objects and Performance Practices,” will run from Jan. 21 to April 16 in the Stedman Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Complex on the Rutgers–Camden campus. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Artists Angela Ellsworth, Caleb Weintraub, and Stephanie J. Williams – hailing from different parts of the United States and different backgrounds– will present craft-based objects seamlessly stitched with live performances and videos to create enhanced gallery experiences.

Curated by Cheryl Harper, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts exhibition welcomes guests to engage with the artists’ multisensory approaches that are both groundbreaking and accepted practice.

“Ellsworth, Weintraub, and Williams demonstrate that each is a complex individual who cannot be limited to a specialty that would crisply define them,” says Harper. “The artists engage with identity, a major contemporary issue, and specifically explore religion and race as it factors in their lives, by either rejecting it or coyly embracing it.”

Ellsworth is a graduate of Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Mason Gross School of the Arts who lives and exhibits primarily in the southwestern United States. Her works are in collections and museums worldwide. Her mediums include corsage pins, painting, video, and performance.

Caleb Weintraub

As a lapsed Mormon, as well as a feminist and lesbian, she channels Mormon sister-wives through visually sensual, gray-scaled, and painfully ironic “seer bonnets.” Her newest works are pin-infused bloomers inspired by female spiritualists and artists such as Hilma af Klint and Agnes Martin. She will include videos of “somewhat naughty” pioneer women and will present a new performance during the exhibition.

Ellsworth will debut a new performance at 2 p.m. on International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8, in the Stedman Gallery and contiguous Black Box Theater. The artist and dancers will create the sensation of spiritualist female artists who inspired Ellsworth’s newest body of work.

Weintraub is a University of Pennsylvania MFA-trained painter who lives and teaches in Bloomington, Indiana. He works in monumental and mural-scale painting, but is also a sculptor, video artist, and musician.

As an Easterner and a member of a religious minority, his fish-out-of-water experience allows him total experimentation as an artist. A self-taught computer drafter and musician, he brings a painter’s sensibility through a myriad of mediums. His figures and landscapes are fusions of manga, science fiction, fantasy, and artificial intelligence. The relationship between paintings, sculptures, video, and music melt into one another.

Stephanie J. Williams

Weintraub will present a live performance and lecture, combining live augmented-reality painting with projection, at 12:45 p.m. Thursday, March 12 in the Stedman Gallery.

Baltimore-based Stephanie Williams holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is an exploration of her identity as a Filipino and an African American. Her stop-action videos feature dancing duck embryos, known as baluts, a common street food in the Philippines. These videos are quite unsettling yet delightful to experience.

A member of the LGBTQ community, her soft-sewn sculpture references body parts including sausage-like intestines, arms, legs, and Catholic junior high school gym classes. At once elegant and playful, her videos and sculpture may not seem related but surely must be since they are both made with consummate attention to craft. Williams will present a workshop and interact with the greater Camden community; details are forthcoming.

For more information regarding the exhibition, contact Nancy Maguire at (856) 225-6245 or maguire@camden.rutgers.edu.

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