NORTH ADAMS -- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Gallery 51 has announced that its new manager is C. Ryder Cooley, an interdisciplinary artist, musician and performer who has performed at the College and in downtown North Adams for several years at a wide variety of events, including those for MCLA Presents!, DownStreet Art and MCLA Gallery 51.
A working artist for more than 20 years, Cooley has worked in a number of capacities within the non-profit arts sector - from curating community exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library to teaching youth programs at Time and Space Limited in Hudson, N. Y.
"I feel like I already belong here, having participated in residencies at the Beaver Mill, exhibits at MCLA Gallery 51, the Tricks of the Trade series, and performing for MCLA Presents! and at events for DownStreet Art," Cooley said.
In addition, Cooley has worked with MCLA students as a visiting artist by giving lectures, workshops and creative feedback, and has collaborated with Melanie Mowinski, an assistant professor of art at the College and the founder of the PRESS gallery in downtown North Adams.
"My relationship to the region stretches back to 2005, when I exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Center in Beaver Mill for the first time," Cooley said. "This community has always felt like a second home to me, and I’m very excited to become more involved.
"I’ll also be drawing from the pool of artists that I know in the Hudson Valley, the New York Capital District, San Francisco Bay Area and New York/Brooklyn areas. I hope to have some shows that will respond to themes of ecology, identity/queerness, as well as performance/installation documentation, artifacts and residue," she said.
Other plans include some cross-programming with the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and other arts organizations in the Berkshires.
"I think it’s important to get as many different people represented by the gallery as possible," Cooley continued. "I’d like to show work that pushes the edge for both the students and the community."
Cooley’s first show will be the upcoming "100 Hours in the Woodshed IV," Gallery 51’s collage biennial, which she will co-curate with Susan Cross, curator at MASS MoCA. This event will return to galleries in downtown North Adams on Thursday, Jan. 24.