Call for Artists

Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes: Artists Looking Forward

Exhibition Dates: May 2 – June 29, 2012

Application Deadline: Friday, March 23, 2012

Application fee: none

Queens College Art Center presents an open call for artists working in all disciplines on the theme of Amulets, Nazars and Evil Eyes for a group exhibition, Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes: Artists Looking Forward. Many cultures believe an evil eye can cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. Attempts to ward off the curse of the evil eye have led to proliferation of talismans around the Mediterranean, especially in Turkey. Artists are invited to submit contemporary work on personal histories of the evil eye (nazar) and the submitted work should seek commonality within their own practice and culture. All traditional and non-traditional media are acceptable for submission and artists working in any discipline may apply.


Successful applicants will be contacted by March 30, 2012. We will only contact artists invited to be in the exhibition. For further questions or queries, please contact


To submit your materials by email:

Email by Friday, March 23 at 11:59 EST all materials (resume (PDF), statement (PDF), biography (PDF), image list (PDF) and 5 jpeg images) to

Each image jpeg must not exceed 1 MB in size and be labeled in this format:



To mail* your submission:

Send all submission materials to:

Queens College Art Center

Amulets, Nazar & Evil Eyes

Queens College, CUNY

Rosenthal , Room 601

65-30 Kissena Blvd,

Flushing, NY 11367-1597


*To be considered, mailed submissions must reach Queens College Art Center by end of business day on March 23 and will only be returned to applicants including an SASE.

Queens College Art Center

Trajectories, Alterations, Enunciations
by Natalie Hegert

A city composed of paroxysmal places in monumental reliefs.
--Michel de Certeau

It was springtime in Queens, and the garbage cans were beginning to bloom.
--Jonathan Wohl

When Michel de Certeau wrote of New York City in The Practice of Everyday Life he began by viewing it from above—from the 110th floor of the World Trade Center, “lifted out of the city’s grasp.”[1] From above, he argued, we read the city as a concept, a unified view, while down below the stories are being written, blindly, by the “ordinary
practitioners,” the people walking the streets of the city.[2]

Express+Local: NYC Aesthetics takes a street-level perspective. De Certeau’s “ordinary practitioners” pass through everyday life unconscious of their own practices, however, the artists, musicians, and poets here at Queens College are practitioners, yes, but of the most conscious kind—aware of the paths and traces they make, their relations to others, and their navigations of the geography of the city. Far from expressing any sort of unified view of the city and its influence on artists, the artists’ residencies and the resultant exhibition explore a part of what de Certeau envisioned as the
“manifold story [of the city]…fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces.”[3] But unlike the authorless, spectatorless
unfolding of everyday life, in this experiment, in this forum, the stories are examined, explored, and presented to the public.

One of the premises put forth by Express+Local was to perhaps uncover a New York City aesthetic by exploring the effect of place on artists. As curator Tara Mathison observed, “New York changes people.”[4] And it does—it changes your habits, your attitudes, those tiny everyday practices, the hours you keep, the way you get around, the way you greet people, the way you say “coffee.” De Certeau wrote an entire theory on these everyday unconscious practices, these ways of operating, strategies and tactics of everyday life. Removing myself from New York City is how I became aware of these lingering practices and attitudes—even now, as I’ve relocated to a more rural locale, I find myself measuring my walks through the countryside in terms of New York City blocks; I have trouble making eye contact or smiling at complete strangers; I still refuse to drive a car for short errands, and so on.

To see what kind of artwork came about when artists consciously considered their surroundings, to see if they would articulate those feelings of change, of new experiences, habits and practices, Mathison invited these artists, poets, and musicians to Queens—a borough with which most of the artists had little familiarity, even those who have lived in New York their entire lives. The resulting work was as diverse as the artists who made it—not that the exhibition was particularly concerned with “results,” but rather with process and practice. No particular visual aesthetic emerged from the various artists’ forays into Queens, but there did appear to be a few commonalities in the artists’ approach to making work in the city. I’ve identified two main strains: trajectories and alterations—as in the artists who took to the streets and the artists who took over the Queens College Art Center.

Trajectory: the artist’s path through space

Far from the shadows of downtown skyscrapers, from Jonathan Wohl’s perspective in Queens, “New York City’s own little bloc to the east,” he writes, “th[e] towers of Manhattan, [peek] through gaps in row houses, just often enough to remind us who’s in charge, giving us something to strive for, something to push back against.”[5] For Express+Local he took to the streets of Queens, recording instances of the everyday—mindless chatter, street sounds, corner gossip—engraving these quotidian sound waves onto a record, which, when played over the course of the installation, slowly ground away the contours of the grooves, until they disappeared into a near silent static, whispers of
the inconsequential, the unconscious content of day-to-day forgotten as a short-term memory.

Derek Vadala spent his residency in the streets of Queens as well, drifting through industrial neighborhoods, recording anonymous street corners, fences, and walls. His photographs reveal a decaying manufacturing industry, while also revealing other “practitioners” of city space—writers like VOR 138 and UTAH—who transform these disused spaces to inscribe their own devastating aesthetics, following a long line of tradition in aerosol-based graffiti, New York’s
outer-boroughs’ own indigenous visual art form. Though bereft of physical human presence, there are many voices in Vadala’s photographs of Queens, despite the distinct loneliness that pervades them.

Some artists sought to approach Queens as flâneurs and drifters through city space, while others came as cartographers and collectors. Carl Gambrell and Rob Kimmel mapped their visitations, reveling in some of the oddball locations they found, enshrining them in the nostalgic medium of Polaroid. Kristyna and Marek Milde mapped, too, while they scoured the streets of Manhattan (better for high end discards than Queens) for unique second-hand furnishings, which they
collected into a living-room installation in the lobby of the Queens College Library. Howard Lerner also makes a practice of collecting objects from his Greenpoint, Brooklyn, neighborhood—in his assemblages, found objects, discarded trash, and carvings from everyday materials become the vehicles for mythical constructions, elevated into a quasi-religious, certainly mystical, expression.

Ellis Avery, rather than collecting material objects, mines a collection of experiences from her everyday navigations through the city. In her daily haiku these experiences—of “mincing through slush,” “a swampy crosswalk,” “a half-melted snowman,” an “evangelist…on the subway,” a taxicab wreck, all the daily realities of New York—are transposed into poetry. [6] One imagines that in a different season Avery would be writing haiku of gushing fire hydrants and black tar rooftops, the hum of air conditioners.

Alteration: the artist at work

While many of the artists performed their residencies outdoors, culling material and experiences from the streets, some spent their time gaining an intimate perspective of the unique surroundings within the Art Center. One artist, Anne Pundyk, became increasingly aware, and critical, of her viewpoint from above in the “zoetrope-like library atrium,”[7] where the perspective is dominated by a large suspended American flag. In response, she effectively blocked out the
view, denying the viewer the panoptic satisfaction of seeing and knowing what lies below, what de Certeau would term the “scopic and gnostic drive” one feels when looking down over the city from above.[8] Pundyk’s installation, The Mourning Tower, obscured the view of the flag in the rotunda with rows of sheets of paper, reproductions of her
own painting practice in sequence. In so doing, she concealed the atrium but revealed herself in painting—itself a process of obscuring and revealing. Ultimately, she “refitted the ivory tower of academia with a broadcast tower,” a reversal of the library as a repository of knowledge and a symbol of power, into a transmitter of her own ideas, experiences, and practices.

In residence at the Art Center at the same time as Pundyk, Naomi Grossman and Antonia Perez conjured constructions of a different sort. Grossman created a corner of secret graffitied messages, inviting students and visitors to share their private thoughts and little wishes, who wrote them directly onto the wall or on small pieces of paper. Manifesting single words or phrases, Grossman fashioned wonderfully fragile wire sculptures, affixing them to the wall—a tender shrine to secret desires and insecurities. Perez collected a copious mass of what is perhaps the most ubiquitous raw material found
in New York—the plastic bag—and wove a delicate latticework fence from it. The fence, white with hints of disposable baby blue, was erected outside the library, a solid yet ephemeral reminder of the waste we unconsciously use and abuse.

Whether the artists worked outdoors in the city or within the space of the Art Center, the open studios aspect of the residency encouraged the public to witness the production and the labor of art making. Perez wove her plastic-bag fence on site; she states, “As I work I meditate on work—handwork, housework, and artists’ work.”[9] Grossman’s installation depended wholly on the input and interaction of the public, but other artists also benefitted from the transparency of the
open studio. Becky Franco, whose previous commercial work as a billboard mural painter literally transformed the visual landscape of the borough, painted her large-scale canvas, Too Much is Never Enough, in full view of visitors who contributed to “the most important ingredient,” the title.[10] Mathison emphasizes that in exposing the artists’ ways of operating, the open studio residency can demonstrate to viewers that art is a real job, a daily as well as a creative
practice. This residency format hoped to transform the public’s perception of the artist, from the stereotypical garreted genius or the trust-funded conceptualist slacker, to perhaps something more familiar to the blue-collar Queens contingent.

The enunciation of the everyday

Communicating or describing the relationship you have to a certain place, a certain city, a neighborhood, is a complex operation, always shifting and changing, never complete. There are no final results to be had, rather the truth can only be found in the enunciation of everyday life—consciously or unconsciously: this is how we do what we do. This is how we work; this is how we travel; this is how we collect memories; how we make a home. This residency and exhibition represents only a few of these fragments of trajectories and alterations, rendering these few legible out of the many stories of Queens and of New York City. With no way of seeing and experiencing the totality of the city—even the “concept” of the city is a partial view—or knowing the true extent of our connection to the city, we instead look to our
everyday practices, our paths through and alterations of space, to describe, however imperfectly, the place where we find ourselves and how it feels to be there.

Natalie Hegert is an art critic who used to live in Brooklyn and now lives in a small college town in Indiana with her husband and two cats. She is the editor-at-large of ArtSlant and is currently researching and writing a book on the art history and theory of graffiti and street art.

[1] Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Randall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 92.
[2] Ibid., p. 93.
[3] Certeau, p.93.
[4] Quoted in Lisa L. Colangelo, "Gonna check out artists at college library," New York Daily News, February 10, 2011.
[5] Jonathan Wohl, wall text from Express + Local: NYC Aesthetics, Queens College Art Center.
[6] Ellis Avery, text from various postcards.
[7] Anne Sherwood Pundyk, wall text from Express + Local: NYC Aesthetics, Queens College Art Center.
[8] Certeau, p.92.
[9] Antonia Perez, artist statement,
[10] Becky Franco, wall text from Express + Local: NYC Aesthetics, Queens College Art Center.



Dr. Suzanna Simor, Director

718.997.3771 | suzanna.simor[at]
Suzanna Simor, Associate Professor, has directed the Queens College Art Center since its founding in 1987 and its predecessor, the Queens College Libraries Gallery, from 1980. She is responsible for planning, program development, utilization of resources, staffing, administration and management, facility, cooperation with the college, community and outside partners, development, public relations, writing, publicity, services. She has presented more than 200 exhibition and numerous related programs, contributed to catalogs, and partnered with institutions local to international. Serving on the Board of Advisors (formerly Trustees) of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College since 1982, she links the two Kupferberg Center partners. MLS and PhD in Art History, she publishes in art librarianship and in the history of medieval and early modern art. Her book Imaging the Creed is forthcoming from Brepols. She is Head of the Queens College Art Library.


Professor Alexandra de Luise, Curator

718.997.3748 | alexandra.deluise[at]
Alexandra de Luise, Associate Professor (on leave 2010-2011), is Curator of Queens College Art Center since 1991. She helps coordinate planning new seasons of exhibits, gallery talks, receptions and other programs along with Assistant Curator and Director. She meets with current and prospective artists, oversees support work related to installation, gallery maintenance, programs, mailings and publicity, and acts as contact person for service points on campus. MA in Art History and MLS, she is Queens College Libraries’ Coordinator of Instructional Services.


Tara Mathison, Assistant Curator

718.997.3772 | tara.mathison[at]
Tara Mathison, Adjunct Faculty, is Assistant Curator of Queens College Art Center, where she has curated over 25 artists and 15 exhibitions since 2007. She has over 10 years' experience curating exhibitions, focusing on contemporary artists and visual culture. An artist herself, she received her MA and MFA in Printmaking while teaching Drawing at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. A member of the Brooklyn artist collective 3rd Ward, she has exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally. Her work is in collections around the world.


Frances Chan, Administration

718.997.3770 | frances.chan[at]