Hampshire Art Gallery Presents “The Distance Is Getting Closer,” from Artist-in-Residence Serena Himmelfarb 05F

In their work, Hampshire alum and former visiting professor of art Serena Himmelfarb 05F challenges the aims of traditional landscape painting, which historically has sought to capture and harness the divine light of the wilderness. Instead, Himmelfarb seeks engagement with the histories, complex infrastructure, and divergent ecologies of landscapes. For the past three years, Himmelfarb has immersed themselves in the liminal spaces of the western New England wilderness, with the Quabbin Reservoir as a touchstone. Their studio practice, which incorporates foraging, researching, drawing, observing, and living in the outdoors, is driven by a yearning for a decentered expression of place.

The upcoming exhibition will feature work made through traditional methods of observation and idiosyncratic processes based in post-studio methodologies. Paintings, drawings, photographs, rubbings, scents, waters, and installations are presented as objects alone and as images stitched into clustered groupings that expand the many ways art can approach landscape.

Himmelfarb takes to task the outdated tenets of New England landscape painting, images that have promoted the erasure of the complex histories and worlds of western Massachusetts, and questions art’s role in distancing the responsibility we feel toward the environment. “The title of the exhibition is a paradox,” Himmelfarb says. “It prompts confronting the distance and the mechanism that makes the distance feel so far away.” Out of observation and study, the work sidles up to the unknown, the splendor and the noise, of the built landscape without the aim to capture, steal, and erase. The result is a series of images that layer the complex workings of the Quabbin site without the need to reconcile their differences.

The Distance Is Getting Closer is curated by Himmelfarb with support from alum and Art Gallery Coordinator Naomi Romm 12F, in consultation with Dean of Humanities and Arts Michele Hardesty, student intern Reid Pitman F22, and Senior Faculty Associate for Studio Art Gregory Kline. Financial and in-kind support has been provided by the offices of the Dean of Faculty, College Admissions, and College Advancement and the Harold F. Johnson Library. 

About the Artist

Serena Himmelfarb

Serena Aurora Day Himmelfarb (they/them) is the spring 2023 artist in residence. They hold an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College. They are rooted in queer, eco-socialist, and reproductive justice frameworks. Selected venues that have shown their work are JOAN gallery and the Track 16 Gallery, both in Los Angeles. Their work has also been on display at Printed Matter’s LA Book Fair, as well as at the Other Places Art Fair.

About the Hampshire College Art Gallery

The Hampshire College Art Gallery has been in operation since 1970, when the College opened. It functions primarily as an exhibition space concentrating on the visual arts. First and foremost, the mission of the gallery is to support the teaching functions of the College.
The gallery is a member of Museums10, a collaborative of ten local museums that inspire, engage, and enrich their communities through shared experiences of art, literature, history, and the natural world. Other members are the Beneski Museum of Natural History (at Amherst College), the Emily Dickinson Museum (in Amherst), the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (on the Hampshire College campus), Historic Deerfield, the Mead Art Museum (at Amherst College), the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art, the University Museum of Contemporary Art (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and the Yiddish Book Center (on the Hampshire College campus).

Gallery Hours

Monday–Friday: 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 2–5 p.m.

Spring Break Hours

Sunday, March 12–Saturday, March 18: 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Sunday, March 19: 2–5 p.m.

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