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Artists use old works to make new in ‘Eco Arts’ at Malvern’s JAM Gallery

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

Everything old can be new again in the Eco Arts Exhibition at Malvern’s Jam Gallery. Eco Arts features art that uses recycled or repurposed materials, as well as works made of natural materials or that celebrates the beauty of nature, wildlife, and the environment.
“The Eco show is fun because the viewer must often play a guessing game to figure out how the objects and materials were originally used,” said Melanie Fisher, JAM’s owner and curator. “Not only is there whimsy in the re-purposing of found objects, but working with recycled mediums requires a special kind of imagination and skill.”
Christina Massey, who was born in California and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is one of the 15 skilled, imaginative artists featured. She has three works in the show. Two are framed works, part of the larger series called “An Art Community.” They range from dark brown to tan and beige and are titled after various “artsy” locations, she said. They were inspired by watching her neighborhood change drastically from a “bad neighborhood” to a “hip, artistic” one. They challenge the notions of permanence, connections, and identification from place, she said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINA MASSEY "Come Undone" by Christina Massesy.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINA MASSEY
“Come Undone” by Christina Massesy.

“They were made in response to the topic of gentrification and the role and responsibility we as artists play within that,” she said. “They hint at references to race without being overly obvious about it, each work becoming an abstract map of sorts representing the diversity of that place.”
The installation is titled “Come Undone” and is composed of multiple panels of hand woven works that relate to the framed pieces. They are unbound by the constraints of frames and hang freely from the ceiling, she said. Gravity then creates their ultimate form.
All of her work was created by cutting up her past paintings and reusing strips of painted canvas, paper, and fine art prints to create the new works. She likes combining “general political topics that ultimately make a commentary about the art world itself.” The series is the only one focused on gentrification, but others she has done addressed the corporate/business side of art and global warming, among other topics.
She’s happy to be included in Eco Arts since a major part of her making new works is re-purposing her own older art works.
“There’s something in the process of letting go in order to rebuild that I love and continue to embrace in my practice,” she said.
Knowing her work has a “time limit” on it, “I feel it puts us in the moment of the present more, yet by re-using canvases over and over again, I acknowledge the past that brought the work to the present moment,” she said. “I leave traces and markings of the old work prevalent in the new, often being identified throughout multiple pieces. Basically, my work continues to change and evolve with me as my own tastes and opinions change.”
That’s further underscored by what Massey believes about art and its importance and impact.
“Art is more than just objects — it’s a way of thinking,” she said. “When people are exposed to art and get involved with creating work themselves, it opens their minds to different ways of seeing situations.”
And though she’s a professional artist, she doesn’t think people have to be to make art.
“I’m a strong believer that everyone is creative. We just all have different ways of expressing it,” she said. “Art matters because the physical objects can remind, inspire and enhance the experiences of the everyday to incorporate creative thinking in every aspect of our lives.”

IF YOU GO

What: Eco Arts Exhibition
When: Exhibit runs through May 2. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday until March 31; noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday starting in April.
Where: JAM Gallery Malvern, 321 E. King St., Malvern.
Info.: Call (484) 328-3509 or visit www.jamgallerymalvern.com

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