Harbor Gallery Showcasing New Work From Radical ‘80s Artist

February 06, 2013

Office of Communications


Boston’s emergence as a hub for provocative art continues in February with a new exhibit at UMass Boston’s Harbor Gallery. Lifelines: Recent Work by Avram Finkelstein showcases never-before-seen contemporary pieces from one of the most influential radical artists of the 1980s.

Lifelines is Finkelstein’s first American solo show. The exhibit features recent work that builds upon themes the artist has explored for decades: sexuality, family, AIDS, politics, class, domesticity, and traditional art in a digital age.

The exhibit will open Friday, February 15, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m., and runs through Thursday, March 14. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday 1 - 7 p.m.

The Brooklyn-based Finkelstein is a founding member of the Silence=Death Project and Gran Fury, the two most influential artist collectives formed in response to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. A piece by Gran Fury is now on display as part of This Will Have Been at the Institute for Contemporary Art.

“Lifelines is unique in focusing on Avram Finkelstein’s contemporary work rather than the historic work from the 1980s that is more often exhibited,” says Aaron Lecklider, assistant professor of American studies and curator of the exhibit. “Many of the works we are showing have never before been displayed.”

The title of Lifelines references a recurring visual motif in the artist’s work: the splitting of the lifeline on Finkelstein’s palm, which the artist understands to represent the dramatic shift in his life when his partner, Don, began exhibiting symptoms of AIDS in 1981. Other works draw on Finkelstein’s family history of political dissent and his identity as a gay man and radical artist in the 21st century.

“Finkelstein’s recent work offers a compelling through-line between the collective response to AIDS in the 1980s and the personal artistic direction of one who was transformed by his experiences of creative community and political action at a critical moment in American history,” Lecklider says.

The exhibit is a true mixed media experience, featuring a series of large collages, digital prints, photographs, wood sculptures, and an installation of a worker’s room based on Soviet textiles. The stories it tells are at once broadly political and deeply personal.

Finkelstein’s work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, and Venice, and featured in venues ranging from The New York Times Magazine to Artforum. This show at UMass Boston’s Harbor Gallery represents a significant new chapter in his artistic career.

For more information about the work, contact Aaron Lecklider at aaron.lecklider@umb.edu. For general inquiries regarding the exhibition or reception, email gallery director Kevin Benisvy at harborgalleryumb@gmail.com or call 617-287-7988.

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