- June 20, 2015 - May 30, 2016
In June 2015, Kidspace kicked off four years of related exhibitions organized under a single narrative arc. The series of experiential exhibitions explore problem-solving through three key habits of mind: empathy, optimism, and courage. In the first year, Walk in My Shoes (June 20, 2015–May 30, 2016) featured artwork chosen to activate empathic responses and amplify compassion towards others. The four-year exhibition project will be accompanied by an evaluation that examines the application of problem-solving through art.
Walk in My Shoes featured paintings, videos, and photographs by Jamie Diamond, Jesse Fleming, and Aaron Johnson. Jamie Diamond presents seemingly realistic images in a series of portraits which, in fact, are artificial relationships that she constructs among strangers; from a quick glance, one might assume a strong familial bond. In another project, Diamond videotaped fraternity brothers posing for two minutes. Without background knowledge, the videos pose such questions as “Who are these boys?” and “Why are they smiling?” A viewer makes assumptions in order to answer these questions, but then forms new ideas when the actual answers are revealed. Feelings of empathy change depending on the facts. Diamond also explores how empathy and compassion are projected towards inanimate objects, particularly dolls, which she constructed specifically for the exhibition.
Jamie Diamond, The Walls, 2008
Archival pigment print, 60″ × 40″
Jesse Fleming shows Mirror Mirror, a film of two participants who attempt to sync with each other through a simple call-and-response activity in which they randomly list colors or numbers. The exercise creates a mysteriously observable connection between the partners. Fleming also exhibits an interactive experiment in which visitors are able to replicate the exercise on site, an act that — according to the artist — completes the work when visitors have direct experience with it.
Artist Aaron Johnson pairs socks with paint, forming playfully sinister, monster-like figures. Viewers may form immediate reactions to the works, in the way we often rush to judgment. Closer observation, however, often yields different and perhaps more empathetic responses.
Jesse Fleming, still from Mirror Mirror, 2014
Single channel version, high definition
Jamie Diamond received her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and her BA from the University of Wisconsin in 2005. Her work is grounded in photography, questioning notions of identity, intimacy, and reality. Her interests include the dialogue surrounding representation and the truth. She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including at Galerie Frank Pages, Geneva, Switzerland; AJL Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Galerie Jan Dhaese, Ghent, Belgium; Ramis Barquet, New York City; Radiator Arts, Long Island City, New York; The Bronx Museum, New York; P339 Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; Samson Projects, Boston; Mana Glass Gallery, Jersey City; Kurant Troms, Norway; Projects Gallery, Philadelphia; and Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia. Diamond’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Philosophy of Photography Journal, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Hyperallergic, Vanity Fair, The Art Blog, and Phaidon. She is a recipient of the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Award (2008) and the New York Film Academy Fellowship Award in Photography (2014), was an artist-in-residence at Mana Residency (2014), The Bronx Museum (2014), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), Swing Space (2013), and LMCC Work Space (2008-2009), and was a visiting artist at New York University (2009). Diamond currently lives and works in New York City and teaches photography at the University of Pennsylvania and the International Center of Photography.
Jesse Fleming designs his work to elicit empathy, attunement, compassion, and group experiences. He is investigating qualities of non-self-referential experience through media and technologies that help lower the perceived boundary between self and other. Fleming has exhibited nationally and internationally in Los Angeles, New York, Austin, London, and Barcelona; has created films for The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Guggenheim Museum, New York City; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and has exhibited at 356 Mission Road, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the University of Texas at Austin; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey. Fueling his media works as a mindfulness practitioner, Fleming has a decade of meditation training and practice in ancient contemplative techniques and secular mindfulness with a certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. His work is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey.
Aaron Johnson is interested in the grotesque and the absurd, as channeled through his innovative approaches to painting. He has lived and worked in Brooklyn, New York, since 1999 and holds an MFA from Hunter College (2005). His work has been included in museum exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York; the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, Tennessee; and the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, D.C. His work has been exhibited at galleries internationally, including Stux Gallery, New York City; Marlborough Gallery New York; Irvine Contemporary, Washington, D.C.; Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo, Norway; Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Mito Contemporary Art Gallery, Barcelona, Spain. He is the recipient of awards including The MacDowell Colony Fellowship, The Corporation of Yaddo residency, and The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program residency. Johnson has lectured at many universities and institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Rubin Museum of Art, and Lehman College. He has taught art to children through organizations such as Studio in a School. Johnson’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Village Voice, ARTnews, and Artforum. Roberta Smith in The New York Times describes Johnson’s paintings as “works that are visceral, beautiful, and flamboyantly timely which is saying a lot.”
Kidspace at MASS MoCA is a child-centered art gallery and hands-on studio that presents exhibitions and educational experiences in collaboration with leading artists.
Education at MASS MoCA is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the Brownrigg Charitable Trust, the Milton and Dorothy Sarnoff Raymond Foundation, and the Alice Shaver Foundation, all in memory of Sandy and Lynn Laitman; the Amelia Peabody Foundation; Holly Swett; the Feigenbaum Foundation; John Hancock; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the Xeric Foundation; the C & P Buttenwieser Foundation; the Berkshire Bank Foundation Legacy Region; Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation; the Gateway Fund and the William and Margery Barrett Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; and an anonymous donor.
Aaron Johnson, Ship of Fools, 2014, socks and acrylic on canvas, 71 × 88 inches