Bundlehouse: Rising into Something Else by Nyugen Smith

Painted collage showing human bones, suitcase, gilded mirror and other objects floating in a river with an African sculpture standing on the shore.
Nyugen Smith, Bundlehouse: Rising Into Something Else
Mixed media and collage on paper, 2020
11 x 8.5 in.

Bundlehouse: Rising into Something Else is a multi-media exhibition distributed across Emerson College’s campus that features performative videos, photographs, and new works on paper by Nyugen Smith, a first-generation Carribean-American artist based in Jersey City, NJ.

Where: Bundlehouse: Rising into Something Else is installed on the Media Art Gallery windows, the Little Building Lobby, the 2B Lobby, the Tufte Stairwell, and on Emchannel.

When: The exhibition will be installed during the week of October 26–30, 2020 and be on view until November 24, 2020

Artist Talk

Wednesday, October 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Missed out on the Art and Healing talk with Nyugen Smith last month? Read about it on our blog.

The subtitle for this exhibition Rising into Something Else is taken from a scene in the book The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, where the enslaved protagonist Hiram Walker begins to drown while attempting to save the slavemaster's son from drowning in a river. As Hiram begins to go under, he remembers ‘legions of the lost,’ and while he descends feels himself ‘rising into something else.’ Smith explores water as an in-between space with vast potentialities: water as history, as culture, as memory and metaphor for the plight of Africans in the diaspora, complicated by the legacy of slavery.

The project is a metaphor for the traumatic experiences that people of color face in the United States, further instigated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Smith recognized the point during the pandemic where he himself felt as if he was sinking in ‘the water’ and when he began 'rising into something else'. According to Smith, we are at a moment in time as a society, where collectively, Black people are 'rising into something else'. Not lost in all of this, is the fact that we are living through a pivotal moment of a changing climate where water is bringing upon us an unprecedented level of devastation around the globe and within this, we are collectively 'rising into something else'.

The exhibition takes place across multiple locations and times, and extends Smith’s ongoing Bundlehouse series that was developed as a response to the past and present conditions of African diaspora with the aim of creating a vision of renewed futurity. The various sites of this exhibition are distinctly transitory, as the exhibition materializes within the liminalities of sidewalks, hallways, lobbies, and other threshold spaces. These placements, although informed by Covid-19 safety precautions, poignantly echo the artist’s larger project: self-becoming in life’s in-between spaces.

A Mural at Piano Row

Emerson College Unveils a New 20-foot Mural Created by Brazilian American Artist Julia Csekö, Featuring an Essay by Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis

Emerson College is delighted to announce “A Coney Island of the Mind,” a new mural commission featuring excerpts from “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation,” an essay by the late Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. The mural is designed and painted by Brazilian-American visiting artist Julia Csekö, and is installed in the Quiet Lounge in 150 Boylston Street, Boston (Piano Row).

“Julia’s work combines text and image in the most powerful way, each one heightening the impact of the other,” said School of the Arts Dean Rob Sabal, who recommended Csekö for the project. “This mural seeks to inspire action—reminding us that the struggle to create a just and equitable world is a struggle that our community embraces.”

The 20-foot-long mural includes excerpts from Lewis’ essay, each embedded in a strip of color. “The essay has many beautiful passages, and it was an incredible honor and pleasure to pick a few of his words to live within the Emerson campus,” Csekö said. “Much in the spirit of John Lewis’ lifelong advocacy for nonviolent protest, from a hateful act resulted a hopeful outcome. This mural was made to honor Lewis’ memory and entice the viewer to learn more about who he was and his exemplary life as an activist and statesman.”

Read more about the process and project details on Emerson Today.

This project is funded and supported by the Office of the Provost and Emerson Contemporary.

About Julia Csekö


Csekö was born in Colorado and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2010, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue an MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. She is currently a visiting artist at Emerson College for the Summer of 2020 and has a public mural on view at Winter Place, downtown Boston, commissioned by the Boston Downtown BID, and created in partnership with the Boston Literary District. In 2018 Csekö was invited to the Assets for Artists MassMoCA residency program where she further investigated her multi-disciplinary practice as a sculptor, painter, and performer.

Her most recent work gravitates around social experiments grounded on a paradigm shift from competitive to collaborative mindset in social actions and interactions. Csekö is the recipient of a 2016 Walter Feldman Fellowship, awarded by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston. She divides her time between being a Practicing Artist and an Art Administrator.