Selina Román, Red, 2016, archival pigment print, 24” x 36”

CINCINNATI, OH—On Saturday, May 15, the Cincinnati Arts Association’s Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts will open Material Message: Photographs of Fabric, a group exhibition of photographers curated by Marcella Hackbardt (Mt. Vernon, OH) responding to fabric’s aesthetic, formal, and conceptual potential, exploiting the medium’s malleability to construct messages ranging from notions of the veil to reveries of memory. Participating artists include Patty Carroll (Chicago, IL), Elizabeth M. Claffey (Bloomington, IN), John Mann (Oak Park, IL), Selina Román (Tampa, FL), Jacinda Russell (Indianapolis, IN), Leonard Suryajaya (Chicago, IL), and Morgan Ford Willingham (Emporia, KS).

Curator Marcella Hackbardt provides an overview and the conceptual links between the participating artists in her curatorial statement: “In Material Message these artists use fabric in order to subvert preconceived notions of social roles and the self, as in Patty Carroll’s draped female figures, and Selina Román’s Burqa Project photographs that question power, politics, and the unreturned gaze. John Mann collapses distinctions between the literal and abstraction, and Jacinda Russell complicates performance and documentary presentation with hotel towels. Elizabeth M. Claffey’s glowing, ghost-like apparitions attest to the temporality and longevity of familial devotions. Using the most delicate and barely-there fabric as a substrate for overt programming, Morgan Ford Willingham’s masks whisper destructive desires. Leonard Suryajaya ignites the optical nerves with extravagant patterns, colors, and textile sources, in images of tenderness and a beautifully chaotic ethos.

In addition to the photographic works presented in the Weston’s lower galleries, Leonard Suryajaya will create New Stand, a new installation in the Weston’s atrium space that mimics a newsstand in a deconstructed form. Inspired by the disorienting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this skeletal stage serves as a selfie backdrop for viewers to reflect on their own pandemic experiences and share renewed commitments and positive outcomes through social media posts.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Saturday, May 15 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. followed by a Gallery Talk with the curator and participating artists from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  To maintain social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols, attendance capacity for the reception and Gallery Talk will be limited. Reservations are required for the reception and Gallery Talk at this e-mail address:

Regular daily visitation during the Gallery’s new hours (Wednesday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.) will be available throughout the run of the exhibition (May 15 – June 26, 2021). Admission is free and open to the public, and no reservations are required for daily attendance. The health and well-being of the Gallery’s guests, staff, and artists continue to be our number one priority. COVID-19 pandemic Health and Safety Guidelines can be found on our website at    

Material Message is generously sponsored by FotoFocus Cincinnati and Helen and Brian Heekin.

All dates and times are subject to change.

Since 1995, the Weston Art Gallery’s mission has been to present and support the visual arts of the Tri-state region through exhibitions and special programs. Its objectives are to foster an awareness and appreciation of the visual arts among area residents and to support the development of professional and emerging artists of the region. 

Weston Art Gallery 2020-21 Season Sponsor: DEE and TOM STEGMAN

 Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts • 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-2517 • 513/977-4165
Wed. – Sat. 11 am – 4:00 pm. • WestonArtGallery@CincinnatiArts.ORG • Admission is free.

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