Gravity of Perception


How can images influence our perception of things we have not experienced? Viewers are invited to explore the power of photography as a way to tell a story, to impart understanding or to stand in for another’s experience in Gravity of Perception at the Center for Visual Art beginning January 11, 2019. The exhibition features the work of 7 photo-based artists – Krista Wortendyke, Lorenzo Triburgo, Xaviera Simmons, Zora Murff, Kris Graves, Marcella Ernest and Tya Anthony – all who reflect on the past by reclaiming and re-contextualizing visual archives, both appropriated and newly created archives. These visual investigations confront themes of oppression and institutionalized discrimination, offering moments for reflection and space to envision a future where equality thrives.

“This exhibition is inspired, in part, by the writing of Frederick Douglass who recognized that photography held the power to change a viewer’s thinking,” says Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA. “Gravity of Perception provides a profound opportunity for viewers to not only experience the impact of these images but to contemplate how they may shift our perspective and invite empathy.”

In Gravity of Perception, each artist has utilized archives in different ways. Xaviera Simmons, Zora Murff, Marcella Ernest and Tya Anthony all incorporate archival images directly into their work to confront history and question what we have learned or have yet to learn from the past. While Kris Graves and Lorenzo Triburgo create images to establish a record of our present time, creating new archives. Conceptual artist, Krista Wortendyke, creates data driven installations from appropriated, archival imagery to examine how oversaturation of imagery may blunt our ability to viscerally connect with what we are seeing.

Visitors to Gravity of Perception will have ample opportunity to explore and react themselves. CVA will offer a variety of programming including artist talks, gallery tours and workshops throughout the exhibition where visitors will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their observations. Viewers will also be invited to reflect on and define the exhibition in their own words via interactive stations throughout the gallery.

“We hope this exhibition will encourage our audiences to explore challenging subjects and provide a platform for discussion of diversity, cultural awareness and equality,” says Cullen.

Gravity of Perception opens January 11 and continues through March 23, 2019. Gravity of Perception is organized by the Center for Visual Art and the Center for Fine Art Photography and is curated by Cecily Cullen, Hamidah Glasgow and Natascha Seideneck. Special thanks to the MSU Denver of Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


About the Artists:


Tya Anthony draws from nostalgia, photographs acquired online and images from her extensive archive of family photographs. Her work in this exhibition explores the intersections of past and contemporary culture while creating a space of autonomy and regard for bodies of color. Website  |  @mztya

Marcella Ernest is an Ojibwe artist who creates video using poetic imagery and abstract narratives. In her video work, Because of Who I Am, Ernest layers imagery and sound to convey the anxiety and pain of discrimination for one who dared to push back against cultural gender norms established within a tribal community. Website  |  @marcellakwe

Kris Graves is a photographer who documents the landscapes where black Americans have died at the hands of police. The neighborhoods, streetscapes and parks look calm with the only indication of the past violence revealed through memorial elements such as stuffed animals and flowers. Website  |  @kgprojects

Zora Murffs photographic series prompts inquiry into how racial violence has been recorded through images, and how these same images can be used to interrupt collective belief. Website  |  @zorajmurff

Xaviera Simmons’ photographs in her Sundown series reflect on discriminatory sundown towns where Black Americans are not welcome after dark. The work brings to light systemic prejudices and re-contextualizes archival photos from the past within contemporary photographs. Simmons honors the resilience of black Americans who have suffered from discriminatory laws and policies, while drawing parallels to conditions today. Website  |  #xavierasimmons

Lorenzo Triburgo’s photo series, Policing Gender, examines mass incarceration from a queer perspective. The work alludes to the specific and intensified discrimination faced by prisoners who identify as LGBTQ. Triburgo supports this artwork by hosting workshops to lead participants in the act of becoming pen pals to LGBTQ-identifying prisoners as a way to provide support and a measure of safety to those prisoners. Website  |  @lorenzotriburgo

Krista Wortendyke’s photographs examine violence and society’s perception of violent events through the lens of data and contemporary art. Her artwork, Mass Observation, compiles visual documentation of media representation of violence. This collection of imagery creates an archive of sorts and asks the viewer to consider if there is another way to perceive these events. Website


Gravity of Perception Events:


Opening Reception
Friday, January 11, 6 - 8 pm  |   Join the curators for welcoming remarks and light refreshments. VIP Preview at 5:30 pm.

Lorenzo Triburgo Artist Talk and Workshop
Wednesday, February 20, 6 pm

Xaviera Simmons Artist Talk
Friday, March 15, 6 pm

Kris Graves and Zora Murff Artist Talk
Thursday, March 21, 6 pm

Closing Reception and Dance Performance by MSU Denver students
Friday, March 22, 6 pm


965 Project Gallery:

The 965 Project Gallery presents The Space Between. In this exhibition, MSU Denver photography students uncover narratives of lives that lie between categories; exposing the spaces between past and present, freedom and oppression, dreams and reality. Monique Archuleta confronts the Nation’s turbulent past through archive photos of the 1960s Chicano Civil Rights movement contrasted with images of the sites as they appear today. Olivia Garcia Escandon exemplifies the duality of being a Dreamer in America with dynamic portraits of Latinx students bisected by drastic shadows while posing in front of the United States flag. This exhibition was co-curated by Kristin Smith, 965 Student Curator and Natascha Seideneck, Assistant Professor of Art - Photography, MSU Denver. The 965 Project Gallery is a student-led space that provides premiere professional development opportunities to students interested in fine art curation and arts administration.


About CVA:

Center for Visual Art is the off-campus contemporary art center for Metropolitan State University of Denver. CVA provides a year-round schedule of bold, contemporary exhibitions of both local significance and international reach, educational programming open to the community and immersive workforce development for students in creative fields. CVA is free and open to all.


Media Contact:

Heather Link-Bergman, Communications Manager   •   303-294-5207 x120