Whether it’s graphic design, graffiti, drawings or sculpture, art has the potential to entrance, challenge or even perplex a viewer. When creators combine these different mediums, the interactive dimension of art can be amplified, transforming an exhibit into an immersive experience or a conversation between artist and viewer. Two local Poughkeepsie artists, Rezones and Riiisa Boogie (also known as Risa Tochigi) have made careers doing just that—fusing their creative talents in vastly different fields of art to create pieces and exhibits that push viewers to interact with their work. From August 27 to September 20, the duo, known as BoogieREZ, will be showcasing their art in an interactive exhibit entitled “Universe Creative” at the James W. Palmer Gallery in the Vassar College Center.
In fact, the name of the exhibit highlights this collaboration between the viewer and artist as the first word, “universe,” plays on the phrase “you and I.” Rezones commented in an emailed statement on the title, “The message is you and I speak creatively about diversity, confidence, imagination, creativity [and] uniqueness…while showcasing our commonalities at the same time.”
Rezones and Boogie are no strangers to the Vassar community. Rezones, also known to the Vassar community as TC Weaver, has been a chef for Vassar in the ACDC since 1991. (As Rezones put it, “Working since ’91, hanging out since ’86.”) Both Boogie and Rezones were founding members of the Vassar organization known as Hip-Hop 101, and they met through the dance practice that the org used to run. Since then, they have been working together as artists. Rezones commented, “We’ve been together since í05 sharing our passion with the masses.”
As experienced artists who have used their work to convey powerful messages, Rezones and Boogie bring their distinct strengths to their collaborative work. Rezones is a graffiti artist turned graphic designer, fashion designer, digital artist and photographer. Incredibly imaginative and versatile, he worked on an exhibit with Hudson Valley artist Monica Church in 2013 entitled ìThe Flip Side: Creative Practice by Members of the Vassar College Community.” In this exhibit, Rezones showcased his photography, which Church described as a combination of superheroes, graffiti and comic book text that often portrayed Risa.
Also demonstrating an emphasis on diverse and innovative forms of media, Boogie is a graphic designer, illustrator, muralist, digital artist and woodworker. In 2017, she created a mural as part of the Poughkeepsie O+ Festival, an art gala that aims to raise money for artists’ health and empower uninsured artists. In addition, she showcases her paintings at Poughkeepsie hair salon The Great Studio.
Boogie commented regarding her work, “My art always draws from the feelings of an adventurous spirit and youthfulness, while tapping into a deeper and more curious mind. This spirit allows you to reach your ultimate goals with lofty ambition and energetic imagination.”
Likewise, the artists’ combined work is powerful, often conveying themes that are complex and socially in tune—such as the phoniness of intellectual conversation and exaggerated portrayals of different brands and people. This essence is captured on the duo’s website, boogierez.com, which features everything from doodles to fashion photography to murals to pictures of the two in the process of creating masterpieces. Here, there are minimal words to accompany the art—Boogie and Rezones prefer to leave it up to the viewer to get a feel for and to interpret each piece.
In addition to the “Universe Creative” exhibit, the two are working on the Poughkeepsie Gateway Project, which involves creating a mural located near the Poughkeepsie train station. Church commented on the dynamism of their partnership and the impact of their work: “Boogie and Rez have become an amazing creative team and their stars are rising with the World Trade Center corrugated metal shed project [another project they are working on] and Poughkeepsie’s Gateway Project mural. We are so thankful that Boogie and Rez have made time in their busy schedule to exhibit at the Palmer Gallery.”
As for describing the exhibit itself, the artists and organizers made sure not to give anything away. They encourage viewers to come take a look in order to decide what the experience is like for themselves. One thing is for certain, however—the exhibit will involve collaboration with the audience members. Assistant Dean of the College for Campus Activities Teresa Quinn commented, “[T]he experience will be interactive and visitors will be part of the exhibition, which will evolve and change every day as the conversation between the artist and visitor transpires.” Church also identified what she believes to be a highlight of the exhibit: “I like that this show is a break from [the] framed artworks and pedestal pieces which the Palmer traditionally exhibits.”
Boogie elaborated on this interactive aspect, writing, “[We] will have interactive stations set up (there will be clear signs indicating which can be doodled on), where [the] audience can color, tag, write quotes and add their flavor to the art.” She explained what she hoped the public would take away from the exhibit, saying she wants to convey to viewers curious pieces that power imagination and motivation. She continued, “I learn the best by keeping my hands busy making things and sharing my process. Play, be apart, make, to experience is the best way of learning. I am always excited to see how interactive activities connect others that can leads to other fun projects.”
The exhibit’s central location in the Palmer Gallery, between the North Atrium and the Retreat, will also prove beneficial to its interactive nature. The location acts as a way to draw in viewers as well as providing a means for the college community to connect with the greater Poughkeepsie community from within the bounds of the campus. Church elaborated, ìThe Palmer Gallery’s location in the College Center is paramount to its success. The many gallery windows engage and invite passers-by to spend some time looking and responding to whatever art conversation is taking place within its walls. We hope to make interacting with art and artists easy.”
There will be a reception for “Universe Creative” on Thursday, September 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. As Quinn acclaimed, “The upcoming exhibition…will feature two of the most dynamic, creative and well known artists in this area and beyond.” The duo will be welcoming students and Poughkeepsie community members alike to connect with their multidimensional art and hopefully walk away feeling inspired by it. Summing up the goals of the exhibit, Boogie stated, “Above all, it is my one and only hope that my art connects people to their passion. Plain and simple, this is what it’s all about.”