The Myth of Normal

The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression is an exhibition that looks at social and emotional norms that have been codified over our collective past, and in turn asks, “What knowledge do we hope to gain from each other over the next 150 years, and in what ways?” Focusing on the achievements and creative abundance of the alumni of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, this exhibition is guest-curated by Mari Spirito ‘92 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the college. Featuring work in an array of disciplines and media, this exhibition highlights 30 artists whose work will be in all areas of the museum, from the exterior facade to the lobby and the galleries.

The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression takes inspiration from Dr. Gabor Maté and Daniel Maté’s 2022 book of the same title. The Matés look at the importance of authentic expression as a means to heal some of our most violent social conditioning, whether by way of race, class, gender, or political difference. The book posits that the emotional and immune systems of human beings are one and the same: when we suppress our emotions, we are simultaneously depressing our immune systems and making ourselves and society as a whole ill. The Matés’ research reveals that one of the most effective ways to heal is for each of us to express authentic feelings and speak what has been unspoken. It is within this capacity, Spirito argues, that art plays a pivotal role in overall wellness, as an avenue and language for self-expression.

The exhibition The Myth of Normal unfolds over thematic interrelated groupings, including: architecture as an extension of the body; a continuum of consciousness; breaking containment; and violence and violation. For this grouping viewers pass through a sculptural installation by Heather Rowe about the past attacking us in the present, along with works by Erin M. Riley, Chandra Méndez-Ortiz, Kate Finneran and Shannon Palmer. The second grouping reveals untold and/or unheard histories woven into personal stories and is made up of works by Loretta Park, Luther Price, Corinne Spencer, Kathleen White, Zhidong Zhang, Ezra Wube, Rashin Fahandej and Tony Millionaire. Viewers are led to optimistic innovation and forward-looking dynamism on the MAAM exterior and upper level Bakalar Gallery, with works by Freedom Baird, Paul S. Briggs, Nancy Callan, Cedric Douglas, Stephen Hamilton, Maya Hayuk, Gail Hendricks-Hill, Steve Locke, Christian Marclay, Felipe Ortiz, Jack Pierson, Mark Skwarek, Mimi Smith, Richard Streitmatter-Trần, Tabboo!, Jackie Winsor, and Bahar Yürükoğlu who each put authentic expression into action encouraging  mutual re-learning, healing, and well-being.

Artists: Freedom Baird M‘16, Paul S. Briggs MFA‘16, Nancy Callan ‘96, Cedric Douglas ‘11, Rashin Fahandej ‘06, Kate Finneran ‘92, Stephen Hamilton ‘09, Maya Hayuk ‘91, Gail Hendricks-Hill ‘75, Steve Locke ‘97, M‘01, H‘22, Christian Marclay ‘80, Chandra Méndez-Ortiz M‘05, Felipe Ortiz ‘09, Tony Millionaire, Loretta Park M‘16 , Shannon Palmer ‘92, Luther Price ‘87, Jack Pierson ‘86, Erin M. Riley ‘07 , Heather Rowe ‘93, Mark Skwarek ‘01, Mimi Smith ‘63, Corinne Spencer ‘10, Richard Streitmatter-Trần ‘03, Tabboo! ‘81, Kathleen White ‘86, Jackie Winsor ‘65, Ezra Wube ‘04, Bahar Yürükoğlu M‘11, Zhidong Zhang M‘20.



The Myth of Normal
October 5, 2023–May 19, 2024
MassArt Art Museum (MAAM)
Boston, Massachusetts

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