Published January 11, 2021
Justina Dziama, a recent graduate of UB’s architecture program, will exhibit her research on material transformations in the post-industrial landscape, as part of the Buffalo Arts Studio’s Activism in the Arts project.
The 2020 Activism in the Arts Artist-in-Residence, Dziama is a 2018 graduate of the MArch program at UB, where she also completed the International Media Architecture Master Studies Program at the Bauhaus Universität Weimar in Germany.
Dziama’s exhibition, “A Millimeter of Space,” focuses on the economically distressed East Side neighborhood that surrounds the Tri-Main Center, a former factory that houses Buffalo Arts Studio. She approaches post-industrial landscape as sites of material agency in which the exterior surfaces of a building, exposed to the elements, demonstrate the types of material transformations that take place with a lack of human intervention and upkeep.
Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Activism in the Arts reflects the belief that artists and curators can effect change through purposeful collaborations that balance community needs, artistic insight, and educational impact, with a particular focus on social, economic, environmental, and representational justice. The opening will take place January 22, 2021 and run through March 6.
Dziama’s work captures layers of surface deterioration on industrial buildings, religious structures, and domestic spaces to represent the conditions of neighborhoods and communities.
Deindustrialization and disinvestment of the 20th century left traces on the city’s built environment, reflecting temporal qualities of dilapidation and decay.
Building on her MArch thesis research, Dziama creates hyerphysical castings fabricated from latex. Varied in color and texture, the castings form palimpsests that bear the physical traces of continuously changing social, environmental, and economic conditions of a neighborhood in distress. The topography of this decaying architecture serves as a metaphor for the cultural and community blight caused by the loss of manufacturing jobs as well as discriminatory economic practices.
The Activism in the Arts exhibit also features Felipe Shibuya, who studied Ecology and Nature Conservation at the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil, where he earned his PhD and is currently an M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art at UB. Working at the intersection between biology and art, Shibuya will exhibit Black Cherry, which explores the juxtaposition of the natural and manmade using cut sections of a felled Black Cherry arranged across the gallery floor, each sprouting a graceful metal rod supporting a transparent IV bag.
Black Cherry is based on carefully researched data and each element has both a metaphorical and a quantitative meaning. The size of each tree section is related to the physical size of each of the 50 United States.* The height of each rod is related to the number of people born in each state based on data extracted in November of 2020 from the United States Census Bureau database. The volume of liquid in each IV bag represents the number of immigrants residing in each of the states based on data extracted in November of 2020 from the United States Census Bureau database and estimates by the Center for Migration Studies. Black Cherry uses the data extracted from United States censuses to create a parallel between the forest and the immigration process, showing that diversity is also an important engine to keep both people and place alive. Together, the elements of the installation serve as a metaphor for the importance of living in the midst of diversity; a forest survives because of each individual organism inside it, and much like a community, flourishes when the diverse inhabitants can work together in a network of support.
Buffalo Arts Studio is a not-for-profit arts organization whose mission is to provide affordable studio space and regular public exposure for regional, national, and international artists through exhibitions, and to enrich the community with art classes, mural programs, and public art.