The Operating System


What a treat to join Awesome Creators OPENINGS Collective and meet the artists at last night’s opening reception for Frenzy into Folly! Seeing the work installed in the epic space of St. Paul the Apostle was indeed an experience that evoked the collective’s mission, “exploring the connections between creativity and transcendance” in all the senses (as Frank Sabatte suggested might be the case).
If you’re in New York City we strongly suggest you visit this highly unusual venue to see the terrific work, which will remain installed  through the 26th of October.  Don’t fret if you’re not local, though — Exit Strata will continue to bring you weekly virtual galleries for the duration of the show.
Location : Church of St. Paul the Apostle
Corner of West 60th & Columbus Ave. (212) 265-3495
New York, New York 10019
[Open Hours: Mon – Fri 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sat – Sun 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.]
And now, for this week’s artists: Keena Gonzalez, Oksana Prokopenko, Ilyan Ivanov, Joey Kilrain, Suzanne Broughel, and Marjan Moghaddam
Keena Gonzalez (New York, NY)
The words Frenzy Into Folly bring to mind a very specific example of manipulation. Media hype. Whether or not the hype is intentionally biased it certainly has a way of creating a frenzy and that frenzy has a way of creeping into our subconscious and creating unsuspecting impressions.
This project addresses my own personal folly. The folly of stereotyping someone based on the way they look. Through my images, which demonstrate the similarities between Catholicism and Islam, I hope to create a dialogue and a better understanding of how the two religions are not that different.
Oksana Prokopenko (New York, NY)

Glass shattered, dropped on the floor in spontaneous agitation, with no control or regard to how and where it broke, has been combined into a layered mosaic sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Christ- an eccentric version of a religious icon.
We construct our notions of the divine, our image of God, Mary, angels, Nature, what have you, out of shatters of our own mind. Once created, we tend to protect it, often frantically sheltering it from the need to change and adjust. Yet sooner or later, the image of the divine we have created will have to be shattered, either willingly on our part or forcefully by the world around, and re-created.
Frenzy here comes in many forms- the frenzied need to have an image of God, or the frenzied agitation many fall into when their beloved idea of the divine is threatened. The edges have not be filed and will remain sharp, forever retaining those elements of disbelief, seeming despair and discontinuity as present in much of religious experience.
As you look through the layers and into the depth, beyond the surface and the superficial distractions – the eyes of your own Soul are looking back intently, watching you through all the flailing attempts to make sense of various expressions, and you recognize you are looking into your own Original Face
Iliyan Ivanov (New York, NY)

The “Day at the Pool” is a commentary on the personal journey that we all undergo daily as we struggle to navigate through the larger path of life. The visual language examines the human condition in its repetitive nature yet fluctuating from exaltation to despair. The largest canvas on the right exists in three versions that will be presented at different intervals during the exhibit symbolizing various emotional states but also reflecting on stages of life – from the magic of childhood to the hardships of adult life. The composition also offers different interpretations of the relations between the characters as individual canvases could be re-positioned thus allowing for unexpected ideas to unfold. This work is a part of a series that has the overarching goal to bridge classical and contemporary visual styles into a common narrative about the mundane conflicts and desires that never cease to motivate and inspire us.
Joey Kilrain (New York, NY)

The theme resonated immediately with me. My mind raced to moments with those I’ve worked with in the creative / technology industry. My partner Yao-Hui Huang and I have come across so many next ‘better than Facebook and MySpace combined ideas we’ve grown callous. My piece is a visual depiction of the feelings I’ve had as an entrepreneur. Starting from the head, my piece displays:
1) The constant demand for awesomeness every second of the day,
2) The ever-approaching deadline,
3) To have faith and play the game of fame or bust,
4) An emotional rollercoaster one encounters while doing business, and lastly,
5) That I feel I am in a perpetual state of failure, both as a business man and a person.
This drawing encompasses all of my frenzies and follies.
Suzanne Broughel (New York, NY)
This sculpture is based on the rope used to hang John Brown, which is on display at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. I used the rope as a point of departure to connect the social justice concerns of Brown’s day with our more recent history and present moment. The materials and form touch on overlapping issues of race, class, culture and power. White sheets hint at KKK costumes, but also mainstream domesticity; shoelaces can connote many things – the “hoop dreams” of professional basketball wealth, sneaker culture, and even the confiscation of inmates’ shoelaces in prison. The sheets are braided together Braiding is cross-cultural. The earliest known images of braids are African.
The phrase “John Brown’s Folly” was coined to cast aspersions on the radical abolitionist’s failed 1859 plan to end slavery. I’m interested in its relationship to today’s issues of oppression and resistance. Occupy Wall Street was initially (and sometimes still is) dismissed as a “folly” by the mainstream press; within the Occupy movement, vocal anti-racists, feminists, and lgbt activists sometimes have their concerns dismissed as “folly”. When is something labeled a “folly” in order to end the discussion?


Marjan Moghaddam

These pieces are from the “Of Revolutions” series of prints and animations by artist/animator Marjan Moghaddam, who recalls living through the frenzy into folly of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, while exploring the political chaos of our time. Composed as digital, cinematic, post millennial, illuminated manuscript pages, these prints use computer-generated characters, motion capture of contemporary dance, Hollywood style special effects, graffiti, painting, and text, in an exploration of the political and personal dimensions of revolutions.
In “David & Goliath”, David faces off the giant of corporatism in a snapshot of our time, with commentaries ranging from Occupy Wall Street slogans to visualized You Tube slogans from the Middle East, and an embedded Guy Fawkes mask, exploring political, artistic, and cultural revolutions, as the underdogs, iconoclasts, and outsiders shake up the system.
“Shot in Iran”, recalls a massacre of soldiers the artist witnessed as her country and family fell apart. Personal accounts and “tweets” are interspersed with the Persian Sufi poetry of Rumi, seeking a greater meta narrative of transcendence and forgiveness as another political refuge living in New York City.
Both pieces blend political commentary – from the East and West – with personal breakthroughs that resonate simultaneously through the past and present.
If you missed Exit Strata’s introduction to this inspiring collective’s story, or either of the previous virtual galleries, go on and check them out! You can contact the artists featured via their individual websites, or by contacting the curators at or at
Virtual Gallery 1: Hildebrandt, Nelson, Penizzotto, Brennan, Bellucci
Virtual Gallery 2: Berube, Simon, Alderson, Hollars, Rusterholz
We are grateful to curators Michael Berube and Keena Gonzalez, who have curated these mini online group shows, as well as to participating artist Joey Kilrain, who did such a fantastic job with video production and design, and are excited to share their work with you, as well, over the course of these weeks.
Frenzy Into Folly features work by Andrew Berardi,Anthony Santella, Araceli Cruz, Carrie Elston Tunick, Daniel Nelson, Denise Penizzotto, Dennis Santella, Garry Velletri, Iliyan Ivanov, James Vanderberg, Joey Kilrain, Johanna Bartelt, John Pavlou, Julia Whitney Barnes, Keena Gonzalez, Kenneth Walker, Lori Merhige, Marjan Moghaddam, Mark Brennan, Matthew Farrell, Meg Graham, Megan Hildebrandt, Michael Berube, Oksana Prokopenko, Patricia Bellucci, Rachel Kohn, Rebecca Simon, Robert Aitchison, Roger Geier, Sandra Mack-Valencia, Sarah Hollars, Sarah Knouse, Sherry Aliberti, Steve Palermo, Suzanne Broughel, Tim Rusterholz, Virgil Alderson, and Wen-Chi Chen.

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