Pitzer College Art Galleries Presents Multimedia Artists Exploring Civil Rights and Pandemic Histories

Claremont, Calif. (January 23, 2023)—Pitzer College Art Galleries is hosting an opening reception on January 28, 2023, at 1 p.m. for Britt Ransom’s Arise and Seek and Maya Gurantz’s The Plague Archives. The reception kicks off with an artist talk from Ransom, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and sculptor, followed by a performance by interdisciplinary multimedia artist Gurantz.

Britt Ransom: Arise and Seek

Multigraph photographic portrait of Emma Ransom, Britt Ransom’s great-great grandmother. Four versions of Emma sit around a table, one in profile, one whose back is to the viewer, and two who face the viewer with their gazes focused to the right and left respectively. Emma wears brown hair in an updo and a purplish gray dress with white ruffles on the front.
Multigraph photographic portrait of Emma Ransom, Britt Ransom’s great-great grandmother.

Ransom’s sculptural practice explores the transformation of data and material through digital fabrication processes such as 3D scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, and computer-controlled milling. Arise and Seek utilizes them to examine the artist’s familial history and its links to the Civil Rights movement in the early 20th century.

Arise and Seek begins with a speech by the artist’s great-great grandfather and activist Reverdy C. Ransom: “The spirit of John Brown beckons us to arise and seek the recovery of our rights, which our enemy, has sought forever to destroy.” More than 100 years later, the artist examines history and its impact on the present through the visual language of racist monuments, historic site plaques, and excerpts from her great-great grandfather’s other speeches in a familial archive.

Ransom is associate professor of art in sculpture, installation, and site work at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a recipient of the Hopper Prize, Joan Mitchell Center Residency, Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator Residency, ZERO1 American Arts Incubator Fellowship, and other awards. Her writing has been published in the journal Leonardo published by MIT Press; The 3D Additivist Cookbook; In and Out of View: Art and the Dynamics of Circulation, Suppression, and Censorship; and more.

Maya Gurantz: The Plague Archives

A black and white line drawing of a farmer holding up the forelegs of a sheep as a suited man wearing a monocle leans down on his knees and injects a vaccine on one of the sheep's back legs.
Detail from The Plague Archives, Maya Gurantz: 
Le charbon et la vaccination charbonneuse: d’après les travaux récents de M. Pasteur / par Ch. Chamberland (Anthrax and anthrax vaccination: according to the recent work of M. Pasteur, by Ch. Chamberland), 1883, courtesy of Wellcome Collection (Public Domain).

Gurantz’s interdisciplinary research-based practice incorporates dance, video, performance, text, and installation, which she deploys to examine constructions of race, gender, and class in relation to shared myths, public rituals, and private desires.

These ideas are manifested in The Plague Archives, a site-specific installation comprising two video projections and a dense collection of archival material on the social, cultural, and political histories of epidemics and outbreaks. Spanning the 10th to 21st centuries, The Plague Archives presents a multi-layered transhistorical and intercultural discourse on the shifting attitudes and definitions of disease.

Defined by Gurantz as experimental “lecture-performances,” the videos weave connections between disparate narratives associated with plague histories, from microbiologist Louis Pasteur’s experiments on sheep to the relationship between pandemics and racism across multiple locales.

Gurantz is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work examines the social imaginaries of American culture and constructions of gender, race, class, and progress. She has had solo exhibitions at Grand Central Art Center, MCA Denver, and Greenleaf Gallery, and she has been included in group exhibitions at MoCA Utah, LAND (Nomadic Division), Art Center College of Design, Navel LA, Angels Gate Cultural Center, and more.

Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, This American Life, Notes on Looking, The Frame at KPCC, ACID-FREE, The Awl, InDance Magazine, and other publications, and she is co-host of the weekly culture and politics podcast The Sauce.

Arise and Seek

January 28–March 25, 2023

Pitzer College Art Galleries: Nichols Gallery

The Plague Archives

January 28–March 25, 2023

Pitzer College Art Galleries: Lenzner Family Art Gallery

Arise and Seek and The Plague Archives are curated by Director and Curator of Pitzer College Art Galleries Ciara Ennis.

For more information, email [email protected] or visit the Pitzer College Art Galleries page.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu/galleries or email [email protected].

Media Contact

Office of Communications
[email protected]