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‘To Shed New Light’: A fantastic, immersive gallery show now on display at Materials for the Arts in Long Island City

New York City artist Cecilia André. (Photo by Anthony Sertel Dean)

March 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

A solo exhibition of multi-media works by New York City artist Cecilia André sheds new light on the transformational power of imagination to create magical art forms from simple, everyday stuff. 

“To Shed New Light,” curated by Mina Warchavchik Hugerth, is on view now through March 10 at the Materials for the Arts (MFTA) Gallery in Long Island City.

Photo by Anthony Sertel Dean

André’s residency at MFTA began in October 2022, and as an artist-in-residence, she had unlimited access to the amazing array of donated supplies in MFTA’s 35,000-square-foot warehouse, to use in her exhibition.

Art lovers will surely appreciate the aesthetic appeal of André’s fascinating creations. It’s no wonder that viewers have been wowed by the immersive, illuminated dreamscape of colorful paintings and assemblage works made up of light-capturing sculptures incorporating translucent pieces that filter sunlight to fill their environment.

“Cecilia André brought out the magic of reusing found objects to make art,” said MFTA Gallery Director John Cloud Kaiser. “Her lovingly detailed assemblages of tiny toys, colored plastic, found containers and more offer a dynamic contrast to the giant panels of paintings wrapped in translucent fabric, shelves of colored, glowing sculptures and her circular art collage paintings containing everything from jewelry, to embroideries, to natural materials.” 

Photo by Anthony Sertel Dean

Photo by Anthony Sertel Dean

Photo by Anthony Sertel Dean

The artist, who lives in Manhattan, would eagerly anticipate her regular visits to the MFTA warehouse, which is truly an artist’s paradise. André would wander through the aisles, foraging for and gathering treasures that caught her eye while imagining what she could conjure up after each thrilling adventure.

Her creative efforts brought forth a whimsical and memorable exhibition, where wire binding from spiral notebooks became a playful sculpture, thin straws appear like tall green grass shrouding a tiny figurine, and reams of bright green vinyl cascade from a lampshade in yet another unexpected creation that evokes a jellyfish.  

“Working at Materials for the Arts was a dream,” said André. “It was incredible to work in an environment where reuse and upcycling materials was essential to the residency and not an afterthought. In addition to allowing myself to become lost in the warehouse’s objects, I was inspired to repurpose some of my older paintings to become a part of the exhibition, creating new perspective, dimension, and meaning to my previous works.” 

Cecilia André at MFTA Artist Studio. (Photo courtesy of MFTA)

The artist likes to experiment with light and how it’s cast through transparent objects, producing mesmerizing reflections, hues, and shadows. And the show echoes that ongoing exploration.

In her curatorial statement, Hugerth writes that “Cecilia André literally and figuratively, sheds new light with her work. Each assemblage beckons closer inspection to reveal tiny details, stories meshed together by delicate interventions. Their complete installation suggests a step back to take it all in.” 

André comes from a family of Lebanese immigrants to Brazil. She has lived and worked in New York City since 1991 and studied at Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely in New York City and Brazil, including at the Queens Botanical Garden, Plaxall Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo.
“To Shed New Light” is on view Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This exhibit is free and open to the public.

Materials for the Arts Gallery is on the third floor at 33-00 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City.

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