Radical Joy and VACANCIES at Finch Lane Gallery


By Ethan Blume, Arts Writer


Don’t let its exterior fool you like it fooled my friends and I, the building at 54 Finch Lane is not a house, but a small art gallery dubbed “Finch Lane Gallery.” As soon as I entered I felt something special that comes with those tight, intensely personal displays. I felt like the people whose art I was looking at were showing me something deep within themself, and that they could trust me.

‘Radical Joy’ — Curated By SISTER

Going down the steps from the front door leads you into the first of two rooms. The first, in this case, is dominated by “Radical Joy,” an exhibit dedicated to “creating brave intersectional spaces that art access is limited to certain communities.”

The 53 artists that worked with SISTER to curate this exhibit wanted it to be “an invitation to the artists and the viewers to investigate their relationship and process with joy.” Glancing around, you can tell that the many artists interpret joy very differently.

Some of the happier pieces showcased someone holding a little lizard, two lovers looking towards each other and a retelling of the creationist narrative to contain two happy looking femmes, one devilish, embracing each other. Some other pieces showcased people rallying for abortion rights, or called for bodily autonomy in Black women.

No matter which pieces you looked at, a singular message shown through — people, regardless of how they identify themselves, deserve to be happy. They shouldn’t have to spend every moment of their life fighting against someone telling them they can’t be or do what they want to. Happiness is a basic human right, and people should be allowed to be happy being themselves.

‘VACANCIES’ — Malachi Wilson

Crossing the threshold into the second, smaller room results in the same barrage of the senses, but this time in a different way. There are significantly less pieces in “VACANCIES” as compared to “Radical Joy,” yet the space is even more filled. The walls are dominated by four large prints, containing “scanner-manipulated archival images.” Just as you get your bearing on those behemoths, you may hear a banging coming from the corner. A drum set with a mechanical arm has begun playing, and it isn’t going to stop for a full minute. No variation in speed, just a rhythmic, inevitable beating.

The rest of the room consists of some pieces of metal forged to look like sticks, a small collection of fossils and a hellish version of one of the wooden standouts that little kids could stick their head into. Instead of fun characters, the standouts show two burly men, distorted into looking like they are from a long forgotten VHS tape, missing their heads. The message of happiness is long gone. This exhibit wants to deal with “legacy, physicality and self-observation.”

As someone who does not frequent art galleries, the time I spent here made me question why I don’t do it more often. It was truly a magical experience, heightened by the early morning hour I went, leading to me being the only patron. My mind was pulled between the two exhibits just before my first class, which made it difficult to hear anything my professor was saying. I was too busy thinking of what I just saw.


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