via: a group show featuring artists working at the art museum as Visitor Assistants


Behind VA Shadows is a creative collaboration of Visitor Assistants (VAs) who provide extraordinary educational service at the art museum. Starting in February 2022, the VAs produced 6 thematically curated on-line shows titled: Raison D'etre; Translation /Tessellation; Pockets of Belief; (u)Veil; Unfolding; and Discipline of Sleep. These web-based exhibitions bring VA's personal dialogues out of the museum to reach a larger community.

This first in-person exhibit of the Behind VA Shadows Project, via unveils the unique individuality of the VAs. Presented in June 2022, in a vacant storefront in the hightraffic Downtown Crossing section of Boston, the show celebrates individual creative practices. Participation includes VAs across time, from 2006 when the museum opened its new world-class 62,000-square-foot building, to the present moment.

Featuring 36 current and former VAs, via presents diverse art content, through performing and visual arts created by VAs in various stages of their careers. Some have made their first artwork for this show, others show locally and in galleries throughout the US. All participating artists share a special episode in their life - working as a Visitor Assistant, helping others engage with new artwork during long days of standing, pacing, and sometimes leaning by the gallery wall. The phrase "VAShadows" is both metaphorical and literal. During the day-to-day gallery routine VAs, wearing required black clothing, unintentionally rub the walls and mark their presence as a dim black band on the white surfaces, marks referred to by those who know as VA Shadows.

Working day after day hidden behind masks during the difficult pandemic times, a bond of support developed between VAs. With more frequent staff turnover, and fewer gallery visitors than pre-pandemic, the sharing of personal stories and art ideas helped form a special camaraderie among the VAs. This exhibition is the fruit of those conversations and relationships.

via: a group show featuring artists working at the art museum as Visitor Assistants is organized by:
Yolanda He Yang, Project Director
Patrick Brennan, Chief Curator
Shahin Ismail-Beigi, Curator
Denver Nuckolls, Performance Organizer

Special thanks to the interns who helped with show:
Yu Diao
Vicky Lau
Ivy Zhao
Lewei Li
Yixuan Zhao
Jiamei Zheng

(click to view works)

Featured artists
Randy Aguilar, Love Aridou, John Bennett, Cameron Boyce, Patrick Brennan, Jose Cortez, Jeannie Dale, Jon Ericksen, Emily Falcigno, Shelby Felton, Jon Feng, Lindsey Flickinger, Elisabeth Gerald, Melissa Gutierrez, Shahin Ismail-Beigi, Katelyn Leaird, Alex Lewis, Tom Maio, Tim McCool, Janella Mele, Emily Mogavero, Isola Murray, Annie Narrigan, Denver Nuckolls, Danielle Pratt, Joel Rabadan, Jaylan Ramos, Anna Reidister, Ryan Ricci, Hannah Rust, Kayla Scullin, Leighah Scully, Monica Srivastava, Christina M Tedesco, Jarrod White, Yolanda He Yang

Photo credit: Yixuan Zhao