Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative

The Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative (CMAI) expands the Worcester Art Museum's ongoing commitment to the vibrant art community throughout the region. Launched in December 2017, CMAI showcases the extraordinary and multi-faceted talents of artists who live or work in the greater Worcester region with a solo installation in the Sidney and Rosalie Rose Gallery. Each year two artists, invited by one of the Museum's curators, will display a small grouping of works alongside significant contemporary artists, including Willie Cole, Doris Salcedo and Alice Neel.

Featured CMAI Artist

A work from the Departure series by Randy LeSage

Randy LeSage
May 15 – October 6, 2019

Randy LeSage, a resident of Lancaster, MA, has taught painting and printmaking at the Worcester Art Museum for over twenty-five years. LeSage's CMAI rotation features his four-part series Departure, which includes an innovative application of relief block ink to explore his career-long interest in the themes of labor and urban architecture. Departure is LeSage's personal response to New England's rich manufacturing and geographical history. Inspired by the changing landscape and its intersections with markers of industry, LeSage supplements his observations with family history, area research, and fictional writings. This reaction to the urbanization of the landscape is evocative and allusive, without a tangible narrative.

Upcoming CMAI Artist

Matthew Gamber
Opens October 9, 2019

Past CMAI Artists

Toby Sisson, American | naciremA 1, 2017-18

Toby Sisson
November 14, 2018 – May 12, 2019

American | naciremA 1 is a metaphorical mirror — a reversed and fractured image of America across the racial divide. Artist Toby Sisson created this text-based work to explore ideas about 'the other' and author W.E.B. DuBois' concept of Double Consciousness, in which black Americans see themselves reflected in, yet distorted and diminished by the dominant culture. American | naciremA 1 challenges the conventional perspective of a unified nationality.

The artist notes, “When I was young, my father was a member of the Nacirema Club in my Midwestern hometown. The 'Nac' was one of a network of black social clubs throughout the country that served our communities when many private clubs did not welcome non-white members. The reversal of the word 'American' into 'Nacirema' was intentionally political, undermining the status quo.”

Toby Sisson is Associate Professor and Director of the Studio Art Program at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Sisson's studio practice explores complex themes of race and representation through mixed media drawing, painting and printmaking with elemental materials — wax, ink, charcoal and oil on paper or wood. Her recent series engages the poetry and prose of African American writers, re-inscribing their words through an abstract visual vocabulary centered on marginalized identities and the struggle for equality.

Read more about Toby Sisson and her work

Tony King, Ice Cream Cowboy, 1978

Tony King
May 9 – November 11, 2018

The current iteration of WAM's new initiative features five photographs by B.A. (Tony) King. King lived and worked as a photographer in Worcester for many years, detailing the lives of “everyday people” from varying socio-economic backgrounds. This rotation features a grouping of candid portraits taken in the late 1960s into the 1970s, illustrating the diversity of his subjects. In conjunction with the gallery rotation, an installation of 31 photographs is hung on the walls of the Museum Café, illustrating the breadth of King's subject matter which includes still-life and landscape photography. The display of his photographs in the Museum's Rose Gallery and Café commemorates one year since the artist's passing in 2017.

Support for this project was generously provided by the Stoddard Charitable Trust and the Judy and Tony King Foundation.

John Pagano. Infatuation (A Place to Go), 2016

John Pagano
December 2017 – May 2018

The first artist chosen to debut the Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative was John Pagano, a well-known local painter whose work is often on display throughout central Massachusetts at institutions such as the Fitchburg Art Museum, ArtsWorcester, and most recently in a monographic exhibition at Worcester's contemporary art space, the Sprinkler Factory. The museum showcased John Pagano's large-format painting Infatuation. A Worcester native, John Pagano's paintings characteristically straddle the line between representation and abstraction. Pagano's use of the hard-edged acrylic paint combined with his expressive style, simultaneously conveys the appearance of fluid and frozen gestures.

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