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Momenta Art was founded in 1986 by a group of artists in Philadelphia. Since its re-location to New York in 1990, Momenta Art has been one of the most influential alternative art organizations in New York, providing a space for public dialog through the presentation of critically-engaged artwork by emerging and underrepresented artists, with a de-emphasis upon commercial concerns. Run by active artists, Momenta Art has attracted a wide range of audience as a space of cultural exchange, aesthetic contemplation, artistic activism, and critical exploration of socio-political dynamics through artistic media.
Originally, Momenta Art was formed as an exhibition space in Philadelphia in 1986 by five artists including Eric Heist, Donna Czapiga, James Mills, Christina LaSala, and Timothy Aubry. The space was known among Philadelphia artists for its open and welcome approach. The landmark exhibition during this period was organized by social practitioner Mark O’Brien. Titled Reimaging America, it focused on artistic activism concerning education, social justice, and the embracement of marginalized individuals. This exhibition anticipates Momenta Art’s future dedication to presenting artwork that is aligned with broader critical social movements, including feminism, post-colonialism, cultural critique and critical race/class analysis.
Momenta Art relocated to New York City in 1990 and experienced a transitory phase, presenting exhibitions at temporary venues in SOHO and Williamsburg. In 1995, Momenta Art established a stable exhibition space. The first two spaces were located in Williamsburg: 72 Berry Street between 1995 and 2006, and 359 Bedford Avenue between 2006 and 2011. Since 2011, Momenta Art resides in our current location at 56 Bogart Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn, at the prime space within a large industrial building along with dozen other artist-run projects and galleries, contributing to create a cooperative community of artists and an audience of diverse backgrounds.
Over a span of 29 years, Momenta Art has provided a public forum for critical discourse through engaging and thoughtful art projects, public events, publications and educational series. It has served over 750 talented emerging artists at critical stages of their development, including Wangechi Mutu, Jim Hodges, Omer Fast, Rico Gatson, Sue DeBeer, Banks Violette, among many others.
Some exhibitions that exemplify Momenta Art’s programming vision include a group exhibition No Return (2004) that explored systems of circulation and alternative economies, Pop Patriotism (2002), a guest-curated exhibition by artist/curator Peter Scott, that presented a critical response to the marketing of patriotism post 9-11, Air Kissing (2007), a group exhibition guest-curated by Sasha Archibald, that addressed alienation and inequalities in the art world., and an exhibition by Occupy Museums (2012) that raised a series of questions regarding the political economy within which institutions are embedded. More recently, Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen’s solo exhibition, Space Fiction & the Archives (2014) interrogated a disguised racism within the rhetoric of multiculturalism, and a group exhibition, Frames of War (2015), curated by Natasha Marie Llorens, proposed alternative methods to recognize the effects of warfare without recourse to graphic images of violence.
Momenta Art has also introduced artists from economically disadvantaged countries to the New York art scene. Activist-motivated group exhibition by six Thai artists, Memory and Disappearance (2003) introduced artistic activism infused with Thai cultural tradition. A group exhibition, Big, Quisiere Ser Grande (2000) featured Uruguayan video-oriented artists, whose work simultaneously imitated and critiqued north-American media influence. Bolivia Existe (2014) introduced eight Bolivian artists, whose works reflect on the recent political history of Bolivia from multiple perspectives.
In 2014, Momenta Art has initiated an Arts Education Program, focusing on serving K-12 students in our vicinity. It aims to facilitate youths in formative years an essential education on contemporary arts and interdisciplinary critical issues.
Over 29 years, Momenta Art has been truthful to our mission, committed to providing a public forum for diverse audience to engage in critical discourse. Currently, Momenta Art is preparing for our 30th anniversary. With a new program and growing audience, Momenta Art is committed to contributing to the positive transformation of our public lives through arts that propel our critical understanding of society.
(last edited in July 2015)
Eric Heist, James Mills, Donna Czapiga, Christina LaSala, Timothy Aubry founded and Co-directed the gallery in 1986.
Laura Parnes joined the staff in 1992 as Co-Director
Michael Waugh joined the staff in 2000 as Assistant Director
Caitlin Bright joined the staff as Executive Director in 2009
Andy Monk joined the staff in 2009 as Gallery Director
Kikuko Tanaka joined the staff in 2012 as Program + Administrative Director
Adam R. Burnett joined the staff in 2012 as Fundraising Director
Caetlynn J. Booth joined the staff in 2015 as Development Associate
Images of the original founders in an article: James Mills, Eric Heist, Christina LaSala, Timothy Aubry and Donna Czapiga (left to right)
Gran Fury in Reimagining America, curated by social practitioner Mark O'Brien in 1987
The flyer of the exhibition Art of Self-Defense and Revenge...It's Really Hard
Image of the building on Bedford Avenue
Occupy Meeting, September 2012
A conference in conjunction with
exhibition Frames of War, March 2015
An education workshop,
Opera: Totality of the Self