Mishkin Gallery’s new exhibit explores American identity


Alaina Feldman | Mishkin Gallery

Claire Lehane

Baruch College’s Mishkin Gallery introduced its latest exhibition: Reframing America. This collection, which debuted in September, will be available online indefinitely. The Mishkin Gallery hosts free exhibitions and public events with the intention of increasing public understanding of modern and contemporary art. This exhibition, organized by student curators, focuses on the different meanings of American identity.

It features selected works from Baruch’s art collection, highlighting artists like Andy Warhol, Beverly Buchanan, Mary Ascher and Milton Hinton. Each curator selected three pieces that exemplify their personal understanding of what it means to be an American. “Reframing America’s” about page states, “rather than attempting to construct a single coherent sense of American identity or nationality, the show seeks to diversify and complicate ‘America’ through artworks.”

Alaina Feldman, the director and curator of the Mishkin Gallery wants people to look at the art and think through the lens of the different artists’ perspectives. Feldman hopes that “audiences also read what the curators have to say about each work, because as students, these young voices will soon be leaders and decision makers.”

The curators are graduate students in the arts administration program at Baruch who participated in Feldman’s “Contemporary Issues in Curating” course over the summer. In this course, which covered a variety of curating activities, students looked at “the processes of exhibition-making from intersectional, cultural, theoretical, and pragmatic perspectives,” in order to craft their own collection according to the professor.

These activities included everything from looking at art and reading about it to chatting with curators in the field and attending exhibitions. “Baruch MA Arts Administration students visited ISLAA to get a broad perspective on collection and exhibition work,” Mishkin Gallery tweeted.

Traditionally the student-curated exhibitions are displayed at the Mishkin Gallery, but this changed once the pandemic hit. Feldman misses the unexpected conversations about art that the in-person exhibition would invoke.

“While the curators certainly did an excellent job making this collection work accessible, it’s never quite the same experience on your computer as standing in front of a large painting in a gallery,” Feldman said.