Old School, New Worlds

"A celebration of interdisciplinary art and environmental consciousness and how book arts work as a supportive platform in this process."

Date: January 19February 15, 2024

Location: SMUSH Gallery, 340 Summit Avenue, Jersey City, NJ

Open Hours: 11a–6p, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (except Jan 20 and Feb 10)

*Opening Reception: January 19, 6p–9p

*Workshop by Sean Suchara: January 28, 3p-4p

*Closing Reception: February 15, 6p–9p

No RSVP or tickets are required

 Accessible by Shuttle during Jersey Art Book Fair, February 3 – 4 

Old School, New Worlds” is a group exhibition curated by Jersey Art Book (JAB) Fair organizers and presented in partnership with SMUSH Gallery, featuring interactive artworks by Magali Duzant and Christina Labey, and Sean Suchara at SMUSH Gallery.

In this month-long exhibit, “Old School, New Worlds” explores the futures of book arts, printed matter, papermaking and works on paper in the face of distorted, paperless, alternate worlds that we’re constantly coaxed into, and how our physical dimensions of humanity, materiality and connection manifest, resist, co-opt or co-emerge in response to these worlds.

The Library as a Garden is a creative collaboration between Magali Duzant and Christina Labey that examines the connection between humans and plants through the lens of the archive. In this arboreal-focused installation, the artists weave together plant specimens, watercolor studies, and anecdotal writing to infuse new life into historical archives. By casting trees as quiet observers of human history and pivotal figures in forging a sustainable future, Duzant and Labey redirect our attention to the often-overlooked presence of nature in the urban landscape. In conjunction with this project, Duzant and Labey will launch Observer’s Notebook: A Place for Pressing Plants, Collecting Color, and Finding Forms. Published in a limited-edition, this interactive notebook includes prompts and ideas, alongside space to write, draw, or collect observations about the natural world.

The Elementalist’s Almanac is an interactive exhibition by Sean Suchara exploring how the labor of art-making can serve as a guide and ritual practice for reconnecting people and nature into a kincentric relationship. This exploration manifests itself as an index of unique drawing tools (lovingly named “Elementals”)  crafted from found materials from the Jersey City landscape. By magnifying the material relationships within the image-making process this work seeks to animate and celebrate the voice of the natural landscape and everyday artist’s tools, such as pencils and brushes, as active, living, breathing collaborators alongside the artist. Suchara also encourages viewers to learn a new way to approach making art by creating their unique drawing tools from upcycled artist materials and sustainably sourced pieces of the surrounding landscape through his workshop How to Summon an Elemental. 

This exhibition also includes a reading room featuring artist books, works of literature, field guides, and other research materials used by the artists while developing their respective projects. The included books are the artist’s personal copies, with bookmarks and highlighted passages to invite the viewer deeper into their creative process. Interspersed among the books, botanical specimens, and foraged objects will be on view—including branches, seed pods, plant specimens, and live trees.

Old School, New Worlds” represents a captivating fusion of art, nature, and the vibrant cultural tapestry of Jersey City. Magali Duzant and Christina Labey’s innovative use of printmaking skills in their arboreal narratives not only showcases the intricate artistry of this medium but also pays homage to the rich literary and artistic heritage of Jersey City. Sean Suchara’s centric approach to art-making, utilizing found materials from the local landscape, further highlights the unique character and resources of the city. This exhibition, set against the backdrop of Jersey City's diverse urban environment, invites viewers to explore the symbiotic relationship between urban spaces and natural elements. It is a celebration of interdisciplinary art and environmental consciousness and how book arts work as a supportive platform in this process, encouraging viewers to see the beauty and potential in the everyday surroundings and to reimagine their role in both the artistic and ecological narratives of the time.

How to Summon an Elemental

How to Summon an Elemental is a workshop, that will be hosted on January 28, by Sean Suchara based on his exhibit The Elementalist’s Almanac. Using the exhibition as a source of inspiration participants will learn a new way to approach making art by creating their own unique drawing tools from upcycled artist materials and sustainably sourced pieces of the surrounding landscape. Through animating the landscape into a means of expressing our creative voice participants will have the opportunity to see the vital role that art can play in building and stewarding a relationship with the natural world.”

Magali Duzant is an interdisciplinary artist who works with photography, writing, installation, and artist books to explore the ways in which we describe, inhabit, and share experiences on intimate scales both large and small. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Queens Museum (New York), Olympia Gallery (New York), and Galerie UQO (Montreal, Canada) with forthcoming exhibitions at Fotografiska Shanghai and Three Shadows Photography Center in Beijing. Duzant has published numerous artist books with Conveyor Editions, including Light Blue Desire: A Manual for the Color Blue and The Moon & Stars Can Be Yours: Notes on Subway Psychics. Her recent solo show A Tree, A Garden, at Antenna in New Orleans, was accompanied by a new book, The Dry Garden, and included images from the forthcoming A Tree Grows in Queens (Conveyor Editions).


Christina Labey is an artist, editor, and book designer whose interdisciplinary practice explores the human experience through color, literature, and the natural world. Her work combines photography, watercolor, and writing in the form of site-inspired installations and artist books. She is the co-founder and creative director of Conveyor Studio, as well as the editor of Mercuria, an experimental magazine about art and science. Publishing is an essential part of Labey’s creative practice, her artist books are held in numerous library collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She currently lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey. 


Sean Suchara is an interdisciplinary Artist, who drives obsessive tendencies & an over-abundance of metaphors towards ideas of drawing/image-making, process, activism, and fostering kinship with the natural world. Sean clashes his research-driven approach with DIY craft-based executions to create intimate and accessible works that define his experience as a career Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Writer. This work has afforded him the opportunity to serve as Designer in Residence at the Facebook Analog Research Lab and multiple fellowships with The Center For Urban Pedagogy, experiences where Sean worked to foster conversations, and humanize information and knowledge sharing through print editions and visual tools.