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The artists Alexi Antoniadis’ and Nico Stone’s first show ever, Refuge and Prospect at UMass Boston’s Harbor Gallery has met much more controversy than they ever imagined. The controversy, however, has nothing to do with the subject matter of their show, the controversy any young artist would hope for.

Antoniadis describes his collaborators and his work as “improvised, whimsical exploration of building materials and found objects.” “It is a sort of psycho-carpentry that manifests as both singular art objects and installations,” he says.

The show, “which included some cutting up of existing walls and building inside the gallery,” according to Antoniadis, who, along with Stone have day jobs as a carpenters.

Antoniadis informed Big RED that Kelly Meehan of UMB Student Affairs, who had been observing the installation’s construction, had been nervous about whether the gallery would be restored to its pre-Refuge and Prospect state. He said they gave her verbal assurance that it would be.

Before the show opened, Antoniadis claims that “Meehan and her cohorts…” “warded off the fire inspector and saved the opening and the show.” Two weeks after opening, in an apparent change of attitude towards the show, Amy Dunbar, the Harbor Gallery’s director, was fired by student affairs.

Antoniadis alleges the firing occurred after a concerned campus maintenance staff member complained about the structural changes to the gallery’s space for the show. Dunbar had not made Antoniadis and Stone sign a contract binding them to restore the gallery to its original state before or during their construction, however, no one from Student Affairs or Campus Maintenance had asked them to sign a contract either.

Consequently, the show was “closed for a few days” according to Antoniadis and “may be closed for good if the fire inspector comes along again.” Meanwhile, Antoniadis says that Amy Dunbar, and two professors from the UMB Art Department, Liz Marran and Paul Tucker are putting efforts into keeping the gallery open.

Out of frustration, he is considering not restoring the space to its original state if he and his collaborator don’t get the originally slated full run of 12 September through 21 October. “[The administration] actually created a situation in which we didn’t even want to restore the space,” he stated.

University of Massachusetts Boston

"Refuge and Prospect" is on view through October 21 at Umass Boston's Harbor Art Gallery.

All images are courtesy of the artists and The University of Massachusetts.

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