Newton, Arts, Metro

‘This is America’ Art Exhibit in Newton Centre Chronicles History of the United States

This is America, an exhibit that details the history of the United States through art, opened on Feb. 4 at Nearby Gallery in Newton Centre.

The exhibit, curated by Jamaal Eversley, aims to grapple with the country’s history, according to Eversley. 

This is America is about showing the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly of America,” he wrote in a document that introduces the exhibit. “The purpose of This is America is to show that unity through diversity of voice and thought brings success to the whole. Unity comes by understanding differences and working through them for a win.”

The exhibit runs through March 5. It is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Sam Belisle and Cal Rice, co-owners of Nearby Gallery, opened the business to showcase underrepresented artists and artworks and to create a space for engagement with the Newton community and the greater Boston area. 

Belisle said he views the gallery as an extension of the themes and topics that he focuses on in his own oil paintings.

“I work to build narratives based on my experience as a working-class citizen in America with a lot of crossovers into like, you know, [critical race theory] and you know, just lower income experience,” he said. “And working in oil, kind of enhances it and pulls it into the conversation.”

This is America is the co-owners’ latest iteration of their goals, which includes providing a space for local artists and artists who don’t have a formal art education or exposure in the field to introduce pieces of art that deal with important issues.

Belisle said the gallery has served this purpose, pointing to a moment when artist Marla L. McLeod talked to two attendees about her piece, “Self Portrait,” a multimedia work showcasing her identity of being white, Native American, and African American.

One piece in the exhibit—made with bullet casings and a list of people killed by gun violence—also accomplishes this, according to Belisle. 

The artwork includes depictions of victims from shootings, suicide, and police brutality in hopes of addressing gun violence as a whole—encompassing the effects and themes associated with guns, such as security, fear, violence, brutality, and justice.

Eversley said that he wants the exhibit to provoke thought among gallerygoers.

“Challenge yourself to look beyond our own perspective and together we can work towards a future of America that supports all citizens unequivocally,” he said.

February 12, 2023