Ceci Moss Ushers in a new era for the Mandeville Art Gallery

Ceci Moss Ushers in a new era for the Mandeville Art Gallery

After a year of renovations, the historic Mandeville Art Gallery will reopen its doors to the UC San Diego community on March 4, with artist and curator Ceci Moss joining on as the new gallery director and chief curator. Bringing nearly 20 years of arts education expertise to the position, Moss plans on utilizing her experience working with art and technology to spark renewed interest in arts education, particularly to UCSD’s largely STEM-oriented campus.

“Arts education is relevant to all fields, I really believe that,” Moss told The UCSD Guardian. “The arts in general … can do many things. I think it asks new questions, it puts things in a different light, and I also think that my program will be relevant to some of the work coming out of the STEM-focused departments.”

Previously, Moss served as assistant curator of visual arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and special projects coordinator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. She has also taken on personal ventures throughout her career, running her own LA-based nonprofit arts space called Gas and penning “Expanded Internet Art: Twenty-First Century Artistic Practice and the Informational Milieu” about her artistic focus on technology. 

Such experiences have allowed her to explore every aspect of the industry, from writing to editing to curating. With her new position, she hopes to offer a similarly versatile experience for students interested in the arts. 

“I’m really interested in encouraging student leadership,” Moss said. “I’m hoping that the students who I work with [and] who engage with the space go on to be next-generation leaders in the field … I really want this gallery to help seed foundational and leading edge folks in our field, and that’s one of the most exciting things for me coming into this position.”

Her first step toward achieving this level of student engagement was starting the student gallery guide program, which trains student workers to give tours of the gallery to visitors. During hours of operation, there will be two highly qualified student guides present to give free tours to anyone who asks. Moss said that most of the guides have had prior experience working at other arts institutions, and all have been trained on how to talk to different audiences about the pieces on display. 

She also hired a group of student assistant art preparators to help with the behind-the-scenes work to install the show, from hanging the art to filing condition reports and loan forms to painting the walls. Moss hopes that this hands-on exposure will help students understand how a gallery functions as a whole more thoroughly. 

In addition to her gallery duties, Moss now also serves as a professor of practice in the department of visual arts on campus, and will be teaching courses in Museum and Curatorial studies in an effort to bolster on-campus arts education. 

This quarter, she has been teaching VIS 129C, which revolves around University Art Galleries and utilizes Mandeville Art Gallery as a case study to explore the impact that such spaces have had on their larger institutions. Students have been working in the gallery archives, receiving guest lectures from other University gallery directors, and will be visiting the Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center over the course of the quarter. In the spring, Moss is planning on leading VIS 208, a graduate seminar for MFA students to workshop an upcoming preview exhibition at the gallery. 

“I’m interested in bringing artists in to produce new projects and at the same time to connect with faculty and other research initiatives on campus so that they can [be in] dialogue with these newly commissioned artists projects,” Moss said. “I’m also organizing thematic group shows [and] I’m hoping to connect with different students, faculty, and research initiatives on campus in relation to those thematic shows.” 

The gallery renovations, which include a state-of-the-art black box media room that allows for  the presentation of video media and an external digital wrap-around screen to display pieces, optimize the presentation of digital art and mark a significant shift toward incorporating emerging technology.  

Over the course of the Mandeville Gallery’s 57-year-history, major milestone moments have been celebrated with faculty shows, and the grand re-opening of the space is no exception. Moss has organized a group exhibition show that will feature new faculty who have joined the Visual Arts department since the last faculty show in 2015. The show, titled “ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA,” will feature a range of photographs, moving images, paintings, sculptures, and performances that explore current and future social and political climates, highlighting that progression isn’t necessarily linear. 

“There’s a real interest in world building; there’s a focus on our collective shared future, and an argument for hope,” Moss said. “I know the last few years have been challenging for everyone and it was important for me for the gallery to reopen with this positive message, one that also resonates strongly across all of the exhibiting artists’ own individual practices. I think it’ll be a really beautiful show”

The “ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA” faculty show will run through to the end of commencement weekend in June, and the gallery will be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12pm to 8pm.  

Among the exhibiting faculty are Memo Akten, Danielle Dean, dean erdmann, Malik Gaines, Mariah Garnett, Las Hermanas Iglesias (Janelle and Lisa Iglesias), Lorena Mostajo, My Barbarian, Alexandro Segade, Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Pinar Yoldas. Despite their different individual disciplines, all exhibiting faculty are showing work that speaks to the show’s guiding theme of hope and unity. 

The gallery’s March 4 opening is planned to coincide with the MFA students’ open studios at the Visual Arts Facility, allowing visitors to also view current MFA projects. 

Moss has strong goals for the future of the gallery and aspires to create a hub for the arts on campus that will not only attract members of the Triton community, but also visitors from around the greater San Diego area.

“Southern California has such a strong history of incredibly innovative art spaces and there’s a real legacy here … I think that the Mandeville Art Gallery, when you look at its own history, is part of that story, so I’m eager to kind of open the gallery up in this new moment and in this new phase, but also honor what the gallery has been,” Moss said.

Photo by Alexander Olsen

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    Tryon LaneFeb 28, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    This is an excellent article about Ceci Moss and the new era she is ushering in for the Mandeville Art Gallery. It’s great to see an inspiring story about a talented woman leading the way in her field. Congratulations to Ceci and her team for the wonderful work they are doing! i will recommended to Electric Counselor