June 28, 2021
NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—MCLA’s Gallery 51 will reopen with a reception for the exhibit “Hostile Terrain,” from 7–9 p.m., on July 2. The gallery is joining the City of North Adams’ First Friday event, where downtown shops and galleries remain open until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.
Originally scheduled for September 2020 and postponed due to the pandemic, “Hostile Terrain” has been a “year-and-a-half in the making,” said Berkshire Cultural Resource Center Director Erica Wall.
During that time, MCLA students and faculty were able to participate in the exhibit, which was sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective. “Hostile Terrain” is composed of around 3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019, as well as the work of three West Coast artists, Sanctuary City Project, and Trinh Mai, who were invited to broaden the conversation, representation, and understanding of immigration to the U.S.
There are more than 1,500 toe tags that still need to be completed and placed on the map. Gallery 51 invites visitors to participate to help complete the map by the close of the exhibition. Tags can be filled out during gallery hours and by appointment.
In addition to joining First Fridays, Gallery 51 will launch the MCLA Pedal Theater, an audio and film projector on an adult tricycle, that will project images onto buildings. Based on a prototype Wall had piloted in California, the roving creation will allow the gallery to continue to engage the community outside the physical walls, in outdoor spaces safer for all. The gallery plans to debut its Pedal Theater in July, after which the theater-on-wheels will make appearances during evening hours, at least once a month, for DownStreet Art and other North Adams events.