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UNLV museum to reopen with exhibit of new, archived pieces

Updated August 11, 2020 - 11:56 am

Five months after closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV is set to reopen on Monday with new safety procedures and new exhibitions.

The museum will relaunch with “Excerpts,” its first single major exhibition featuring 35 works from its collection.

“I love having a permanent collection where we can change and rearrange and bring out previous works in new contexts,” says Alisha Kerlin, executive director of the museum.

One of the pieces being given new context is a painting that Ramiro Gomez made for the exhibit “Sorry for the Mess.”

“The piece was inspired by a video Ramiro took when visiting North Las Vegas,” Kerlin says of the equestrian scene. “In ‘Sorry,’ it was propped up on a free-standing wall and not the center of attention. Now it is isolated and you can really look into the piece and see it on its own.”

“Excerpts” features paintings, drawings, photography, prints, and sculpture in a variety of media created by artists from Nevada and elsewhere, including Brent Holmes, Krystal Ramirez and Lance L. Smith.

“Going forward, we’re starting to show more artists in the space at once,” Kerlin says. “You may see five solo projects versus one giant show. It came out of thinking about how we can spread our resources out when the community is hurting and artists are being laid off. We need to step up and help out.”

In a new initiative, the museum is partnering with the Womxn of Color Arts Festival.

The Southern Nevada organization was founded by Las Vegas artists who saw a need for more events highlighting the work of local artists of color who are womxn — an alternative spelling sometimes used by feminists to address women without patriarchal connotations.

The museum is designating its center gallery to show the works of artists of color, starting with “Kept to Myself,” a solo exhibition by Las Vegas designer Ashley Hairston Doughty.

Through personal poems, written thoughts and anecdotes, Doughty uses art and text to investigate her experiences as a Black woman in contemporary society.

One piece is a series of pillowcases embroidered with statements she has heard yelled at her by strangers.

“Some statements were innocent, others more flirtations like catcalls. Others were very harsh; those usually had to do with my husband who is white,” Doughty says. “That project takes up a third of the exhibition. Opposite that is a more recent work dealing with my views of being Black and dealing with, as a woman in her mid-30s, looking at starting a family.”

The artist and assistant professor at UNLV created cootie catchers — the schoolyard fortune-telling game made with folded sheets of paper — to illustrate her navigation through the question of having children.

“There are a lot of reasons I’ve been struggling. You hear about young Black men getting killed. I know the struggles of being a Black American, issues in the health care system, of Black women being more likely to die in childbirth, environmental factors,” Doughty says. “But also, my husband and I both lost our fathers to cancer. I want to bring someone into the world who might make it better.”

In accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, masks are required to be worn inside the museum at all times and guests are encouraged to make reservations at bit.ly/2Dsz8Gv before visiting.

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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