The University Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that serves the Art & Design Department, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, as well as the city of Lowell and the greater Merrimack Valley Region. The gallery hosts 4-6 major exhibitions each year, including the biannual B.F.A. show featuring the senior projects from the Art & Design studios. From emerging artists to seasoned practitioners with national and international reputations, the University Gallery's exhibition program showcases a broad variety of artistic approaches, media and content reflecting the curricula of the Art & Design program and enhancing the cultural environment of the community and surrounding area.

The University Gallery is located on the 1st floor of Mahoney Hall at 870 Broadway Street, Lowell, Mass.

Gallery Exhibitions: Admission is free and opening receptions usually include a lecture by the curator or exhibiting artist.

Current Exhibit

A still from Seven Easy Steps VR by Andy Fedak

A still from Seven Easy Steps VR by Andy Fedak

Seven Easy Steps

An exhibition of Virtual and Other Realities by Andy Fedak

Curated by Misha Rabinovich, Associate Professor of Animation + Interactive Media
November 9 – December 21, 2022

Watch Andy Fedak's Live lecture via Zoom.

November 9 at 1:20 p.m.

The UMass Lowell Department of Art & Design is honored to present Seven Easy Steps, an exhibition of artwork by Andy Fedak. This cutting edge exhibition includes a stereoscopic film and an interactive Virtual Reality installation.

California gave us Hollywood, US Aerospace, the Internet, and the art of Andy Fedak. Throughout modernity, the US expanded westward to find yellow gold and to reinvent itself at any cost. This drive manifested in groundbreaking disruptions of how we perceive the world. The myriad self-improvement cults that flowered in that state, from Esalen1 to Unarius, are a case in point. The art of Seven Easy Steps harnesses the innovations and hijacks the self-improvement inertia of cultish consumerism to open a possibility space around questions of body image and anxiety in the age of social distancing.

This exhibition consists of a 3D stereoscopic narrative film titled, How to Lose Weight in Seven Easy Steps (3D glasses are mandatory) and an interactive virtual reality (VR) experience called Seven Easy Steps. The film deftly composites documentary footage and cutting-edge visual effects to unveil a phantasmagorical world hovering just beyond our perception. But consciousness is impossible without embodied experience.2 To this end, the VR leverages the latest research,3 from the haptic to the narrative, to enhance the mind/body illusion. The work deploys loaded visuals, dramatic animation, and original music to achieve full embodiment in the metaphorical world. Only when the player’s mind has been fully hooked up to the virtual body can images and assumptions be dissolved and congealed in seven cycles of transcendence and re-embodiement. 

The work traces key West Coast developments that challenged how we perceive the world: from the spacecraft of Jet Propulsion Laboratories to the inauguration of the only president from California Ronald Regan (who is revealed to be a much better actor than is commonly believed). Like astronauts who put on spacesuits, the audience dons VR gear to enter space no less fraught: the rabbit hole of inner space. This work is informed by body dysmorphia, which like the neurasthenia of the interwar years, is arguably one of the disorders of our time. Perhaps in no other age has one been so uniquely pressured by media—social and otherwise—to appear one way...or another. In the classic Existentialist novel Nausea (written in neurasthenia’s later heyday) Roquentin picks up a pebble to experience an epiphany about the gross nature of the world. In Fedak's VR, instead of a mere pebble, the player is asked to grasp a yellow bar of manufactured cheese—a rich metaphor for a manufactured self image.

In “Phantom Limbs”4 Caroline Jones explores the influence of Gestalt psychology (which arrived on the West Coast via the same diaspora that seeded Hollywood) on the Golden State’s “Light and Space” artists who enveloped their audiences in sonic and visual bubbles.5 There is even more space for art that works to make whole that which has been disrupted. Seven Easy Steps also wraps us in its unique artifice but does so on its own terms: it opens a portal for exploring possibilities beyond the normative in such an attuned way that afterward the so-called “normal” reality might never feel quite as real again.

- Misha Rabinovich, Associate Professor of Interactive Media

1 Kurt Andersen. “How America Lost Its Mind”. The Atlantic, September 2017
2 Francisco Varela, et. al. Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science And Human Experience MIT Press, 1992 via Amelia Jones in Stelarc the Monograph MIT Press, 2007
3 Mel Slater / University of Barcelona (see artist statement)
4 Caroline A. Jones. “Phantom Limbs.” Log, no. 42 (2018): 186–204. View Phantom Libs via the JSTOR website.
5 E.g. the anechoic chamber and the ganzfeld infinity visual field

More information on the artist:

Andy Fedak is an animator and experimental filmmaker working with image, sound, and computer graphics on projects that blur the line between contemporary art and the Hollywood blockbuster. Dealing with subject matter of social unrest and anarchist utopias, Andy utilizes photorealistic computer generated elements to open a space of creativity that would otherwise be impossible due to cost, size, or public safety.

Andy is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the California State University, Fullerton. He received his BFA from New York University and his MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His work has been shown at the LAXART in Los Angeles, CA, the Palace of Fine Art in Mexico City, The Luckman Gallery in Los Angeles, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, The Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, CA, and other venues in Europe and the Americas.

Andy Fedak’s website

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    The University Gallery is supported in part by a grant from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

    • Monday - Wednesday and Friday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
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    Closed during school breaks.

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    The University Gallery is accessible to all. Gallery events are free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Wilder Metered Lot, located at the intersection of Wilder Street and Bachelder Street. The entrance to the lot is located on Bachelder Street. After 4 p.m. visitors may park in any open campus lot.

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Past Exhibits

View University Gallery Past Exhibits