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Visual Arts Center of New Jersey to Host Artist Talk on Community Storytelling 

Taking place Tuesday, January 12, at 7 PM.

Visual Arts Center of New Jersey to Host Artist Talk on Community Storytelling 

On Tuesday, January 12, at 7 PM, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) will host artists Yvette Molina and Elisabeth Smolarz for a virtual discussion titled Community Storytelling Through Contemporary Art. The conversation, which will focus on the artists' communal storytelling projects on view at VACNJ-Big Bang Votive and The Encyclopedia of Things, respectively-will be moderated by Art Center Curator Mary Birmingham.

For Big Bang Votive, Molina covered the walls of the Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery with nearly 300 paintings of starry skies, some incorporating cosmic phenomena such as galaxies, supernovas, nebulas, and black holes. She then took various panels and painted a single object floating against the cosmic background. These objects act as votive symbols of delight or love and were inspired by stories she gathered from in-person and virtual interviews with the public.

Smolarz's exhibition, The Encyclopedia of Things, on view in the Marité and Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery I, is an ongoing community-based art project that uses photography and storytelling to chronicle the lives of diverse individuals. Since 2014, Smolarz has collaborated with people in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia to make intimate, object-based portraits. Each participant selects meaningful personal items that are arranged for the camera in temporary shrine-like installations. After listening to the stories behind these treasures, Smolarz creates still-life portraits that embody the identities and personal narratives of their owners.

Community Storytelling Through Contemporary Art is free and open to the public but registration is required and donations to VACNJ are accepted. Visit artcenternj,org to sign up. Both exhibitions are on view through January 18. Visit to reserve an appointment.

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