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The Power of Negative Thinking

Running from January 16, 2015 to February 21, 2015 in the Main Gallery

A Curatorial Opportunity Program Selection
Curated by Michael Gaughran
Stephen St. Francis Decky (West Roxbury, MA)
Anthony Montuori (Malden, MA)
Alicia Riccio (Brooklyn, NY)
Kirk Amaral Snow (Jamaica Plain, MA)
Randy Stevens (New Braintree, MA)
Bradley Tsalyuk & Corey Dunlap (Los Angeles, CA)

The New Art Center is pleased to announce the opening of The Power of Negative Thinking, an exhibition celebrating the joys of pessimism and the virtues of criticality. The seven featured artists address some of the more unpleasant aspects of life, in seemingly delightful ways. They all create work that in some way challenges societal notions of happiness, either through humor, avoidance, or direct confrontation.

The exhibition hosts an array of media including painting, sculpture, video, photography, installation, and video games. Each work expands upon simplistic interpretations of negativity as dark and miserable by embracing criticality through an intelligent, and often humorous, lens. These dynamic and intriguing projects reject the high value of happiness in our service-based economy and portray pessimism as a charming reality, rather than an inexcusable character flaw. The work on view does not hide from anxiety or despair, rather, it boldly advocates for the acknowledgment that not every glass is meant to be half full.


Stephen St. Francis Decky is an artist and filmmaker, originally from the Philadelphia area. His paintings and films have appeared in galleries, festivals, and museums both nationally and internationally. Decky creates a dreamlike world filled with bright pastel colors and adorable, identity-shifting characters, whose beatific smiles often belie the harsh realities that keep our lives, and theirs, moving forward.

In conjunction with this exhibition, Decky will be producing an evening of live theater, interactive puppet shows, and film shorts starring two of his favorite protagonists, Kip and Vanilla Chip.

Anthony Montuori is an artist and video game developer from Albany, NY. He creates interactive games that use their bright graphics, and innocently nostalgic imagery to turn mere viewer into full participant. Through the use of simple gameplay, Montuori is able to engage the viewer in heavy art historical and institutional critique, all while forcing them to contemplate the inevitability, and beauty, of failure. By creating games that can never be won, Montuori offers a joyful approach to nihilism, and allows the participant to find comfort in their own shortcomings. In addition to showcasing previously playable works, Montuori will be creating a brand new game, Super Maria, exclusively for this exhibition.

Alicia Riccio scours social media platforms to collect photographs of whimsical towel sculptures that hospitality staff create aboard cruise ships. Underneath the blown out reproduced photos, a small line of text correlates tragedies that occurred on the same ship. The contrast highlights the disparity between marketing communal experiences of pleasure, and the reality that any creation of utopia is still incapable of changing human nature. At the end though, the desire to maintain a pleasant memory, or the illusion of one, is what causes the pixelated photographic memento to dominate the retelling of the ships events.

Kirk Amaral Snow repurposes building materials to create a dialogue based on impermanence and facade. While much of his work is inherently quiet, the pieces selected for this show focus on learning to live with failure. His sculpture When Transition Becomes Stasis, is a reflection on succumbing to one’s own anxiety, building a permanent structure around a collapsible ladder to stop the people he loves from walking under it. Amaral Snow, who works as the Career Services Director at Montserrat College of Art, has exhibited and performed both nationally and internationally, and recently completed a 6-month residency at Samson Projects in Boston, MA.

Randy Stevens’ paintings challenge the viewer to question both her taste and theirs. Through the use of vibrant color and gallons of glitter, Stevens creates work that is seemingly vapid, yet loaded with pathos. In her most recent series of work, she uses text to aggressively contrast the veneer of joy and pleasantry that are so prevalent in both her paintings and her persona. Stevens work has been shown internationally for almost four decades, and can be found in galleries, museums, and private collections across the globe.

Bradley Tsalyuk & Corey Dunlap are partners in both life and art. They frequently create work that straddles the line between enticing and repulsive. Their piece Don’t Wish it Were Easier, Wish You Were Better, offers the viewer a slogan that is both motivational and crushingly self-loathing. Printed on a banner attached to smiley-faced balloons, these aggressively colorful objects create a sculptural form that is simultaneously lifted and pulled down by their own weight.


Born and raised on Long Island, curator Michael Gaughran currently lives and works in Waltham, MA. His curatorial and artistic research is focused mainly on camp and performativity, with a special interest in the crossroads of appropriation and popular culture. He holds a BFA in Fine Arts and African American Studies from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY; an MFA from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and a graduate certificate in Museum Studies and Art History from Tufts University. He is currently the curator of the McGladrey Gallery at Bentley University, as well as Curator of Installations at the New Art Center, in Newton.

In his spare time, Michael can be found proselytizing the aesthetic value of reality television, and rolling his eyes indiscriminately.

Bradley Tsalyuk & Corey Dunlap, Don’t Wish It Were Easier, Wish You Were Better, 2013, Custom printed banner, Mylar balloons

Kirk Amaral Snow, When Transition Becomes Stasis, 2010, ladder, drywall, aluminum studs, adjustable clamps, joint compound, paint.

Randy Stevens, Depression, Anxiety, Despair, Poverty, Death. 2011, Latex, glitter, oil, acrylic on wood.

Anthony Montuori, The Adventures of Sisyphus, 2012, video game

Stephen St. Francis Decky, Kip and Vanilla Chip (screenshot), 2011, 3-channel animation.

Alicia Riccio, Liberty, 2014 digital print.

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