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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Harbor Art Gallery’s ‘really’ exhibit on display through May 1

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Harbor Art Gallery

“Really?” is the first thing people say upon walking into the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Harbor Art Gallery. As the gallery sitter, I always respond with, “No, ‘really’ with a lowercase ‘r’ and no question mark.” This art exhibit features three UMass Boston art professors: Brian Christopher Glaser, who works with sculptures; Jen Barrows, who works with photographs; and Justin Jankus, who works with photographs as well.
As artists, they came up with the name “really” simply due to the double meaning of the word. “It can mean actual fact, it can mean thoroughly, or it can be used to express surprise doubt,” said Jankus. “It is also used as an interjection and often times that’s how we communicate — sort of stumbling into each other’s thoughts with a tangent that elongates an idea from one another.”
Barrows, with her artistic eye, tends to like lowercase lettering better than uppercase because it doesn’t distract from her work. As far as showing their artwork together, it was just an automatic decision.
Because there are three different artists and three different bodies of artwork coming together, there are three different inspirations for each of the art works. Barrows, who has been taking photos for a long time, seriously considered photography as something she wanted to do with her life since the age of 16. She was inspired by a debate in New Hampshire about whether Obama was “American enough” to run for president. She began to interview people about their “American” experiences. She then visited those places, took photographs, and tried to relive the experiences.
Jankus has been taking photos since he was a little boy, playing around with Polaroid cameras. His inspiration came from his sister, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and he wanted to figure out their relationship as siblings. He didn’t want people to see them as a nerdy kid trying to be normal or a girl  with a disability, but rather simply as brother and sister. Jankus would sit and snap pictures of his sister’s room as she was out riding horses or at McDonalds. As this project formed, his biggest worry was exploiting his sister so he was very careful with how he projected who she was as a woman stuck in childhood.
Glaser began pursuing art seriously 10 years ago at the beginning of his sophomore year in undergrad. His inspiration for the sculptures came from coming to terms with his sexual identity and being open about it with others. “During high school I became closeted about my personal life,” Glaser explained. “Yet I was able to find a modicum of solace in being able to explore my attraction through … images in magazines.” Glaser uses the images in his artwork to embrace his own identity.
The “really” exhibit will be on display in the gallery until May 1. You can look and learn more about these three talented professors on their websites.
Brian Glaser: brianchristopherglaser.com
Jen Barrows: jenbarrows.com
Justin Jankus: justinjankus.com