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Events 11/16/2021

11/16/2021 (Tuesday)

Spencer Finch Cosmic Latte

Spencer Finch, the subject of a major mid-career survey at MASS MoCA in 2007 titled What Time is it on the Sun?, returns to the museum in May 2017 with a long-term installation commissioned and designed in conjunction with MASS MoCA’s Phase III expansion. Bringing the starry night inside the museum, Finch’s light-based work, Cosmic Latte features over 150 specially fabricated LED fixtures that will be suspended from the ceiling over an expanse of the 80-foot long gallery. The constellation of LEDs will be arranged in the gently arching shape of the Milky Way as it is observed in the Northern Hemisphere in March. The work’s title, Cosmic Latte, refers to the name for the average color of the universe, which in 2009 was determined to be more beige than what has been traditionally thought of as blue. Two American astrophysicists studied the color of the light emitted by 200,000 galaxies and created a cosmic spectrum, which they then blended according to the light spectrum visible to human eyes. Finch represents that specific warm, yellowish-white shade of light with LED lights (designed to look like incandescent bulbs), which are then arranged in the shape of the molecular models of the pigments needed to create this “cosmic latte” color: titanium white, Mars yellow, chrome yellow, and a touch of cadmium red.

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

After nearly six months of intensive drafting and painting by a team of some sixty-five artists and art students, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective is fully installed. The historic exhibition opens to the public at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, on November 16, 2008, and will remain on view for twenty-five years. Conceived by the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, in collaboration with the artist before his death in April 2007, the project has been undertaken by the Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective comprises 105 of LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, spanning the artist’s career from 1969 to 2007. These occupy nearly an acre of specially built interior walls that have been installed—per LeWitt’s own specifications—over three stories of a historic mill building situated at the heart of MASS MoCA’s campus. The 27,000-square-foot structure, known as Building #7, has been fully restored for the exhibition by Bruner/Cott & Associates architects, which has closely integrated the building into the museum’s main circulation plan through a series of elevated walkways, a dramatic new vertical lightwell, and new stairways.

The works in the exhibition are on loan from numerous private and public collections worldwide, including the Yale University Art Gallery, to which LeWitt designated the gift of a major representation of his wall drawings, as well as his wall-drawing archive.

Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, states, “Watching this grand installation of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings progress over the past six months has been nothing short of thrilling. In addition to providing an enduring exhibition of great beauty, this retrospective will enable visitors to behold for the first time the full trajectory of a major aspect of Sol’s artistic career. Until today, the only way to view multiple LeWitt wall drawings has been to travel far and wide, pursuing them individually in situ or in temporary museum exhibitions. Now, visitors will be able to return to MASS MoCA again and again to experience this visual feast of Sol’s wall drawings in a single location, doing so at their leisure over the next twenty-five years.”

LeWitt—who stressed the idea behind his work over its execution—is widely regarded as one of the leading exponents of Minimalism and Conceptual art, and is known primarily for his deceptively simple geometric structures and architecturally scaled wall drawings. His experiments with the latter commenced in 1968 and were considered radical, in part because this new form of drawing was purposely temporal and often executed not just by LeWitt but also by other artists and students whom he invited to assist him in the installation of his artworks.

Each wall drawing begins as a set of instructions or simple diagram to be followed in executing the work. As the exhibition makes clear, these straightforward instructions yield an astonishing—and stunningly beautiful—variety of work that is at once simple and highly complex, rigorous and sensual. The drawings in the exhibition range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson comments, “With this exhibition, Sol LeWitt has left an amazing gift for us all. Great art draws upon previous artists, but also contradicts and contravenes. And the most essential art argues for new ways of seeing, even as it is almost immediately absorbed into the work that surrounds and supersedes it. As I believe will be evident in this landmark exhibition, LeWitt’s wall drawings rise to those highest of standards. We look forward to having this amazing collection of works on long-term view as a sort of proton at the center of our museum around which our program of changing exhibitions and performances will orbit with even more energy.”

Project History

The impetus for Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective was a 2004 conversation between Reynolds and LeWitt. This evolved and resulted in a commitment by the artist to give a substantial number of his wall drawings and his entire wall-drawing archive to the Yale University Art Gallery, which already owned an extensive array of LeWitt’s art in multiple mediums. Realizing that the Gallery did not have enough space to install and maintain a large number of the artist’s wall drawings at any one time, Reynolds suggested to LeWitt that MASS MoCA, with its historic mill complex, growing audience, and history of realizing ambitious new works of art, might be able to accommodate an extended retrospective of the works.

Reynolds and LeWitt then met with Thompson, who introduced the artist to Building #7. The structure, situated at the center of MASS MoCA’s multi-building complex and featuring large banks of windows that open onto two flanking courtyards, appealed to LeWitt as an ideal site for a multi-floor installation of his work. In addition to the new interior walls, which he designed in consultation with Bruner/Cott & Associates, his specifications for the space included a plan that would leave nearly all of the existing exterior masonry walls and large windows intact, providing direct side lighting and offering beautiful views to surrounding courtyards and the Berkshire Hills beyond. Bruner/Cott integrated the galleries with MASS MoCA’s existing plan by re-activating existing elevated connector-bridges and adding new ones, and by creating a new three-story lightwell. The design thus links the building to MASS MoCA’s signature Building #5 and provides vertical circulation and handicapped access.

Retrospective Installation and Education Opportunities

“Detailed,” “painstaking,” and “strangely liberating” are terms that have been used to describe the experience of creating Sol LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings. The drawings at MASS MoCA were executed over a six-month period by a team comprising twenty-two of the senior and experienced assistants who worked with the artist over many years; thirty-three student interns from Yale University, Williams College, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and fourteen other colleges and universities; and thirteen local artists and recent graduates and post-graduates from many of the nation’s leading studio-art programs. MASS MoCA’s North Adams location, just five miles from Williams College, offers a unique educational opportunity for Williams’s undergraduates and those enrolled in its graduate art-history program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute to participate in this special exhibition. Like Yale, Williams is among the primary training grounds for professionals in the field of art history, and the LeWitt collaboration, to be accompanied by a variety of educational programs, will offer students many opportunities to study the work of this important artist.

In conjunction with the project, the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is creating a series of programs and shorter-term companion “teaching exhibitions” in a space at the entrance of Building #7 and at the WCMA. The first of these, The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt, opens at WCMA on November 14, 2008. It includes important works from LeWitt’s private collection that help elucidate the underlying grammar of the artist’s work and ideas.

WCMA Director Lisa Corrin says, “Our goal is to have Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective serve as an extension of the Williams campus—a classroom of sorts for our students and those from other colleges and universities. LeWitt’s art offers challenging teaching opportunities for faculty from across academic disciplines. The WCMA staff will help professors craft curricula related to the exhibition. All three of the museums partnering in the retrospective play a major role in the training and support of many of the artworld’s future leaders, and this adventurous collaboration will offer a new generation of students unprecedented firsthand exposure to the work of a major artist of our time.”

Exhibition Publication

On the occasion of Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, MASS MoCA and Yale University Press are producing Sol LeWitt: 100 Views, a hardcover book with 100 new essays. Contributors are drawn from a wide array of expertise and fields of specialization. Authors include critics and scholars Lynne Cooke, Chrissie Iles, Lucy Lippard, Saul Ostrow, Ingrid Sischy, and Robert Storr, and visual and performing artists John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Lucinda Childs, Chuck Close, Steve Reich, Matthew Ritchie, and Dorothea Rockburne, among many others. The publication, which includes 150 color plates, may be ordered through Hardware: The MASS MoCA Store.

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonné

In 2010, the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale University Press will co-publish Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonné. The basic design for this three-volume scholarly resource, a project of the Gallery, was created by the artist during his lifetime. The book will contain descriptive texts, diagrams, installation photographs, and more for all of the 1,261 wall drawings that LeWitt realized from 1968 to 2007. A DVD illustrating both the proper uses of materials and drawing techniques to be employed in realizing LeWitt’s basic “families” of wall drawings will also be included, providing a helpful guide to their proper future installation, as well as to the drawings’ long-term care and conservation.

Conserving the Legacy of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings

To additionally preserve the artistic legacy of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings in perpetuity, the Yale University Art Gallery has endowed a position for a drawing conservator through the generosity of Yale alumnus Theodore P. Shen, b.a. 1966, and his wife, Mary Jo Shen. In time, this conservator will oversee the LeWitt wall-drawing archive and other works on paper at Yale and will train new assistants to install the artist’s wall-drawing collection at Yale as well as those owned by individuals and public institutions worldwide.

Sol Lewitt Structures

A new adjunct to MASS MoCA’s long-running Sol LeWitt exhibition A Wall Drawing Retrospective , a concise selection of the artists’ three-dimensional sculptures is on view in B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building. The works illustrate the generative potential for LeWitt’s serial approach.

Franz West: Les Pommes d’Adam

Hall Art Foundation at MASS MoCA

Franz West’s Les Pommes d’Adam – a monumental outdoor sculptural ensemble on extended loan from the Hall Art Foundation – opens on the MASS MoCA campus, in its first presentation in the United States and its second-ever showing. The sculpture was previously exhibited in 2007, when it was installed at the Place Vendôme in Paris next to Napoléon Bonaparte’s Vendôme Column. Les Pommes d’Adam will be exhibited adjacent to the Hall Art Foundation’s 10,000 square-foot building dedicated to the work of Anselm Kiefer, whose spring reopening –

When Franz West’s Les Pommes d’Adam was first displayed in Paris’ Place Vendôme in 2007, the exhibition curators noted that the sculpture took its name and inspiration from the Adam’s apple, pointing to the distinctive anatomical profile of a man’s throat. The public, however, interpreted the gathering of bubblegum-pink sculptures in a slightly more provocative way, locating the reference lower on the male torso.

West would have reveled in the confusion, having once said, “It doesn’t matter what art looks like, but how it is used.” The use of art, and its interpretation by individuals, was always of interest to West. Among his earliest works are the Paßstücke, or Adaptives, a series of small, portable plaster objects, a selection of which was exhibited at MASS MoCA in 2002. Adaptives were made to be picked up and manipulated by the viewer, their meaning changing with use. Some might be utilized as bookends or flower vases, while others may be displayed on sculptural plinths.

Les Pommes d’Adam, like much of West’s work, is infused with humor and a particular delight in visual and linguistic puns. It pokes, provokes, and makes us reconsider our physical and psychological relationship to art. The sculpture’s evocation of the human body recalls the work of the Actionists, a group of artists prominent in Vienna while he was a student at the Academy of Applied Arts. Like the American Fluxus group, the Actionists sought to create art outside the usual gallery and market structure, often as free-form events or happenings that yielded abstract works of art and ritualistic, body-oriented performances.

Les Pommes d’Adam is rough-hewn and made of basic materials: metal, epoxy, paint, and concrete. The 4 pink biomorphic totems, each standing at approximately 25 feet, are at once crude in shape, yet highly finished. In its Paris showing, Les Pommes d’Adam was installed in close proximity to the Vendôme Column, on top of which stands a statue of Napoléon Bonaparte in Roman garb. West’s presentation of Les Pommes d’Adam at the Place Vendôme engaged and perhaps parodied the Napoleonic Column, prompting viewers to reinvestigate it and its role in the history of Paris and France. The idiomatic expression, “Napoleon complex,” for example, takes on new meaning in light of the apocryphal tale of the etymology of the term “Adam’s apple.” According to the biblical passage, the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was an apple tree. When Eve gave Adam a piece of the tree’s forbidden fruit and he ate it, a fragment became lodged in his throat. The Adam’s apple thus serves as a permanent reminder of the folly of desiring that which one should not have, or know. Likewise, with its monumental, if not pretentious, scale, Les Pommes d’Adam may offer a playful warning about the perils of unbridled ambition.

Mary Lum Assembly (Lorem Ipsum)

Artist Mary Lum, who lives in North Adams, works in a range of media, including wall drawing, painting, collage, photography, and artist books. Language plays an important role in her practice, with the artist drawing on texts from a diversity of sources, including literature, psychoanalysis, and the news. Lum has been included in three previous exhibitions at MASS MoCA in the past fifteen years; for the opening of Building 6 she was commissioned to create a large-scale wall work for the bike tunnel that transverses the ground floor of Building 6, piercing one of MASS MoCA’s biggest buildings to connect Adams-North Adams-Williamstown bike trails. Lum’s monumental painting, covering four walls, is inspired by Lorem ipsum, the meaningless text that graphic designers and typesetters use as mock filler content as placeholders for actual texts, and which was originally drawn from Cicero’s writings on ethics. The intricate work vibrates between writing, image, and pattern, and speaks to the fragmented way in which we acquire information and see language in today’s world. Mirrored interludes provide a vibrant backdrop to passing cyclists.


Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is one of today’s premier multimedia artists, known for her achievements as a visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist, and instrumentalist, and her innate ability to meld her dynamic practices into new and vibrant forms. Her seemingly boundless oeuvre includes the creation of books, albums, and performances that incorporate film, slides, recorded audio, live music, and spoken word. Anderson has long been recognized as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts and has developed new musical instruments, including the tape bow violin, in which the bow has been replaced with magnetic audiotape and the bridge with a reader. She was one of MASS MoCA’s first artists-in-residence and has returned to the museum many times to develop and discuss works-in-progress. In MASS MoCA’s Building 6, Anderson will create a multi-functional environment that will serve as a working studio, audio archive, and exhibition venue, highlighting both her creative process and some of her most unforgettable works.

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer’s concise, often enigmatic, writings infiltrate public life and consciousness through everyday objects such as LED panels and stone benches, as well as her paintings and sculpture. She is best known for her light projections, begun when she illuminated the banks of the Arno River with her writings in 1996. In these projections, which have now appeared in over 40 cities in 20 countries, stark block lettering is thrown onto landscapes and architecture, creating ephemeral graffiti that links her early street-based practice to her long-standing engagement with media, and tactics common to news and advertising. Following her monumental installation in MASS MoCA’s Building 5 in 2007, which marked her first indoor projection in the U.S., Holzer returns with a campus-wide program, timed to the opening of Building 6 in May 2017. The program will include a large-scale outdoor projection on the side of Building 6, a series of her celebrated carved stone benches located throughout MASS MoCA’s sprawling campus, an exhibition of her early posters, and additional rotating exhibitions of her work in Building 6, spanning the breadth of her career.

Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois described her artistic practice as an attempt to work through whatever tumult plagued her — psychologically, personally, artistically — to find perfect harmony. Her work often references human anatomy and sexuality, in some instances overtly and in others more subtlely through organic and ambiguous forms. Her oeuvre encompassed drawings, paintings, textiles, embroidered works, sculpture, and installations ranging in scale from a few inches to fully immersive environments. Bourgeois began working with marble in the early 1960s while living in Avenza, Italy, and the medium proved particularly compelling for the artist — its resilience and difficulty pushing her creative boundaries. For Building 6, MASS MoCA, in partnership with the Louise Bourgeois Trust, will present a group of the artist’s marble sculptures, some of which have never been seen previously. The works fluctuate between the whimsical and the grotesque, the threatening and the nurturing, highlighting Bourgeois’ investigations of dualities and the pursuit of identity, individual and communal. The installation also speaks to the artist’s interest in monumental scale, with one sculpture weighing in at more than 10 tons. The design of the gallery that will house these works in Building 6 was constructed specifically to hold the weight of such works.

James Turrell- Into The Light

In James Turrell’s hands, light is more than simply a source of illumination: it is a discrete, physical object. His sculptures and architectural interventions elevate our experience and perception of light and space. Squares of sky seem to float, suspended, in ceilings or walls; architecture disintegrates; and brilliant geometric shapes levitate in midair. Turrell began using light as a sculptural medium in 1966, painting the windows of his studio in Santa Monica to seal off the natural light and experimenting with projections. His practice has been shaped by the ongoing manipulation of architecture, framing and altering the way viewers engage with the environment. A pioneer in the Southern California Light and Space movement, MASS MoCA will present a multi-decade retrospective of Turrell’s work in Building 6 — with galleries designed and constructed specially to best accentuate his installations. This exhibition will feature a major work from each decade of the artist’s career.

Barbara Ernst Prey - Building 6 Portrait: Interior

Renowned watercolor artist Barbara Ernst Prey paints a monumental watercolor for MASS MoCA’s expansion. Prey’s work will be 8 feet tall by 15 feet wide and depicts the interior of Building 6 just prior to the start of construction.

Best known for her plein air paintings, Prey’s commission sets a new benchmark for the size and scale of watercolor works on paper, among the most unforgiving combination of any painterly media. Her piece will tackle the vast horizontal spread of Building 6’s second floor, which comprises a full acre of floor area, with some 400 columns, hundreds of windows, and layers and layers of paint. “This commission is a painter’s dream, an engaging subject combined with a breathtaking scale for this media,” says Prey. “I have long admired MASS MoCA’s commitment to breaking boundaries in commissioning and presenting new works, and am thrilled to have been asked to create a piece that celebrates the organization’s ongoing growth and success. The architecture, the light, the colors, and the different textures of the space in Building 6 are all compelling subjects, and this piece has pushed my boundaries as an artist, opening up new perspectives on watercolor painting.”

Prey’s paintings are included in some of the most important public and private collections around the world, including The White House (one of two living female artists), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Kennedy Space Center, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art Dartmouth College, the Taiwan Museum of Art, the New-York Historical Society, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Bush Presidential Library and Center.

She has also been commissioned by NASA to document space history. Prey graduated from Williams College where she studied with Lane Faison as part of the Williams College Art History program and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University where she was able to continue her art history studies. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a Henry Luce Foundation grant that enabled her to travel, study, and exhibit extensively in Europe and Asia. She is an art blogger for The Huffington Post, a frequent lecturer, and an arts advocate, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Williams College. In 2008, she was appointed by the President of the United States to the National Council on the Arts, which is the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Arts. Members are chosen for their established record of distinguished service and achievement in the arts.

Sarah Crowner Wall (Hot Blue Terra Cotta)

Building #6

Sarah Crowner’s gorgeous 10 × 20 foot tile mural Wall (Hot Blue Terra Cotta) — fabricated for her recent MASS MoCA exhibition — now guides visitors in and out of the museum’s new gallery spaces. Known for her bold and graphic work in a variety of mediums spanning the fine and applied arts, Crowner finds the forms and patterns of abstraction in the everyday. Her monumental structure transforms painting into architecture (and vice versa), with the imperfections and eccentricities of the hand-glazed tiles functioning like a painter’s gestures.


Joe Wardwell Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States

Building #6

Boston-based artist Joe Wardwell’s Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States, a new wall drawing for MASS MoCA, takes inspiration from J.G. Ballard’s 1981 novel Hello America. The book begins after an energy crisis in the late 20th century that leaves America all but abandoned. A century later a group of European explorers finds a radically changed country, a desert landscape parched by the damming of the Bering Strait. The expedition starts in Manhattan and ends in Las Vegas where a tyrannical leader has named himself both Charles Manson and President of the United States. The moment that inspired Wardwell, and seemed like an all-too-eerie nod to our current political climate, comes when “President Manson” grabs the primary protagonist, who is filled with longing for a far-too-distant “American dream” and declares “together, Wayne, we will make America great again!”


The Metabolic Studio/Optics Division Hoosic: The Beyond Place

Building #6

In October 2016, artists Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen, and Tristan Duke of the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio spent a week at MASS MoCA using their Liminal Camera — a moveable, monumental camera built from a repurposed shipping container — to create a series of portraits of B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building. The team examined the adjacency of this repurposed industrial building to the industrialized Hoosic River. To make the prints on display, the Optics Division collected Hoosic water and poured it over the paper during printing, imbuing the image with ripples of river water.

Joe Manning: Looking at North Adams

Author and historian Joe Manning speaks to life in and around this city — referencing the trains, hills, rivers, and buildings that shape life in North Adams. Manning’s short texts, describing and illuminating the views through mill building windows throughout the museum, are excerpted from his publications about North Adams history and drawn from oral histories of city residents. Manning’s “city labels” speak to life in North Adams, including the retail scene on Main Street and what it was like to grow up in North Adams in the mid-1900s.

Jarvis Rockwell Us

Artist Jarvis Rockwell’s massive 2002 installation Maya introduced MASS MoCA visitors to Rockwell, whose detailed wall-drawing continues to delight museum-goers and concert audiences just outside of the museum’s Club B-10. Rockwell returns to MASS MoCA with a new large-scale installation,  In Us, figures from Rockwell’s massive collection of toys and figurines interact and organize themselves on glass panels, soaring over visitors’ heads in the historic light well of the newly renovated B6: Robert W. Wilson Building.

Rockwell began assembling his ever-expanding collection of toys and figurines in 1979. Numbering in the hundreds of thousands, his toys run the gamut from classic action figures to Japanese monsters, bobble-head dolls of politicians and artists, Yodas, Betty Boops, Troll dolls, Pez dispensers, Tin Tins, toy soldiers, and endless amounts of plastic furniture (“for the occasional elderly toy to sit on”). In his thoughtful arrangements, groups of figures gather as though in conversation with one another, approaching and drifting apart in a bewildering array of organic interactions. In his 1985 exhibition Toys at the New Museum, NY, eight identical figures wearing suits and panama hats anxiously adjusted their ties in unison, a coiffed doll with bright blue eyeshadow enthusiastically greeted an approaching Viking, and James Brown relaxed, feet up, on a blue ottoman.

As the exhibition’s title suggests, for Rockwell these figures stand in as avatars for ourselves — “alternatives to us whom we can interact with” — which act out the fantasies, beliefs, and values that shape our understanding of the world. In his own words, “We build what we are, what we think, and what we live.” Rockwell uses the term Maya, adopted from Hindu Sanskrit, to understand the way we attach illusions to the visible world. On a notecard that he carries in his wallet, Rockwell defines the term in relation to his practice as:

“The power of a god or demon to transform a concept into an element of the sensible world; the transitory manifold appearance of the sensible world, which obscures the undifferentiated spiritual reality from which it originates; the illusory appearance of the sensible world.”

The stepped structure of Us also points to Rockwell’s fascination with the spiritual realm. Spanning the length of the light well, ten glass planks hang from the ceiling in an ascending, curving line. The upward motion of the floating glass shelves conjures a feeling of ascension, and perhaps even reincarnation. As Rockwell sees it, “[The toys] are going on to glory.” Imbued with a physical and spiritual depth, Rockwell’s figures evoke a multiplicity of narratives that are at once whimsical and distressing, capturing the complexities and outlandishness of our own existence.

Rockwell approaches each installation of toys organically, responding to both the site and the needs of the various toys. Though most of the figures “socialize” in groups, the artist explains, “There’s always the lonely person that doesn’t talk well with other people, and he’ll be walking by himself.” By listening seriously to the stories that toys have to tell, Rockwell is able to create worlds that feel at once monumental and microscopic in scope, playing out both the quotidian and epic dramas of our lives.

Nicholas Whitman

Photographer Nicholas Whitman began photographing North Adams’ abandoned Sprague Electric Company factory in 1988 “because it would surely be razed.” Documenting the then-deteriorating 19th-century mill buildings, Whitman captured scenes ranging from vast postindustrial landscapes to minute traces of the plant’s former workers. Whitman’s meticulously composed photographs, windows onto the historic nature of MASS MoCA’s celebrated renovated factory campus, are now on view in the museum.

Preserving the “seemingly random collection of mill buildings” was a deeply personal mission. Whitman’s father came to work at Sprague as an engineer in 1959. Growing up, Whitman remembers that the site’s security was so tight, he was unable to visit his father at work until he was hired for a summer job etching aluminum foil in 1974. The company’s etching operations moved to the South not long after, marking the early phases of cost-cutting and outsourcing that ultimately led Sprague to close its operations on Marshall Street in 1985.

By the time Whitman began to photograph the site’s century-old buildings in 1988, they had begun to decline: floors buckled, paint peeled, and pigeons and spiders had made the quiet buildings their home. Whitman says, “I worked with a 4″× 5″ field camera and carried everything in order to be self-contained and mobile. The buildings are mostly interconnected, so once you were inside you could go anywhere. Many areas were quite dark, which made photography difficult because I only worked with the available light. The light is part of the place, and the place was what I was documenting.”

More personal hints of the factory’s industrial past — thousands of workers over more than a hundred years — remained. “Most compelling was evidence of the individuals who had spent so much of their lives within these walls,” Whitman notes. “It manifested itself in different and sometimes unexpected ways. There were discarded identification badges and personal effects, like coffee cups and well-worn chairs. There were scrawls on walls, numbers near the phone, and handwritten conversions from minutes to tenths of an hour on the wall near the punch clocks. The humanity of these industrial spaces is revealed in such details.”

About the artist
Nicholas Whitman is a photographer based in Berkshire County. He studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and is the former Curator of Photography at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. He has been commissioned to create photographs by institutions including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Bennington Museum, Berkshire Museum, The Colonial Theatre, Chesterwood, Olana, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art, and Williams College, where he taught a landscape photography course each winter for two decades. Whitman’s photography is the subject of books including “The Colonial Theatre: A Pittsfield Resurrection” (2008); “After SPRAGUE ELECTRIC / Before MASS MoCA” (2013); “Sea, Shore, Sky & Ice” (2013); and “Wheels of Progress: The New Bedford Waterfront, circa 1980” (2015). His photographs can also be found in “MASS MoCA: From Mill to Museum,” a revised edition of which is forthcoming.

Marko Remec Would That I Wish For (Tall Totem)

Artist Marko Remec often creates visual puns that conflate conventional art forms with current events, often involving tricks of the eye, forced perspective, and other formal sleights of hand. In the series of work that includes Would That I Wish For, the artist adheres ready-made objects such as mops, brooms, safety mirrors, and rear-view mirrors to utility poles to create tall, totemic-like shapes that can be at once delightfully whimsical, and deeply questioning of today’s morays and social practices. In Would That I Wish For, the convex mirrors’ usual use for safety, surveillance and security is abandoned, the structure becoming a dizzying, world-absorbing spectacle that also reference the complex social functions of indigenous totem poles of the Pacific Northwest in commemorating important individuals and groups, and in communicating important events.

In using “Totem” as part of his works’ titles, Remec is deferential to the original use of the word (which comes from an Ojibwe term meaning clan) in describing tall carved wooden objects made by the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, and is aware of those works’ primary function as communicative devices for telling stories, or imparting other important tribal or familial information.

Remec’s work does not mimic or copy any tribal style. Rather, as recorders and reflectors of the present moment, the works “speak to the abject fear and paranoia that are a common component of today’s urban and suburban condition,” Remec has said, addressing surveillance, narcissism and indifference, and the complex relationship between the built and natural worlds.

Julianne Swartz In Harmonicity, The Tonal Walkway

Julianne Swartz’s work is rooted in emotion, vulnerability, and the provocation to recognize and connect to one another as feeling human beings. Over the years Swartz has returned again and again to using the human voice, recording singers both professional and amateur to create moving works that embrace visitors with sound and emotion.

For In Harmonicity, The Tonal Walkway, Julianne Swartz started with a chart she found in a 19th-century music pedagogy system called the “Tonic Sol-Fa” School, developed by John Curwen. The chart assigned “mental effects” to the seven tones of the diatonic scale. Swartz was interested in this idea of certain tones activating specific emotional or mental states. She then took this “Curwen Method” and applied it to a new sound work for MASS MoCA, on long-term exhibition in the walkway between the lobby and the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective. “Inharmonicity” is a word used to describe a departure from the ideal harmonic series (being out of tune), but it has also been attributed to bringing a “quality of warmth” to the sound of a stringed instrument.

To build this work, Swartz started by recording 24 people individually — eight professional singers, including Roomful of Teeth, and 16 amateur singers. The singers ranged in age from 7 to 75. During the recording process, she asked participants to listen to specific tones and read the “mental effect” associated with that tone, as assigned by Curwen. Then she asked them to listen to the tone again and come up with their own mental or emotional association. Lastly, she instructed them to sing individual notes of both the diatonic and chromatic scales, using any syllabic/consonant-vowel combination that they wished. The single-note sounds took on specifics of the individual singers’ choices and voices.

Swartz then took these recording and made a composition of the single note sounds using a chord structure of thirds and fifths. The soundtrack is made entirely of singing, spoken word, and sustained microtones of voice. The microtones are made by isolating a tiny kernel (such as a quarter second) of voice or breath, and repeating it until it becomes a sustained tone. These sustained tones, especially the low frequencies, vibrate the space and can sound like mechanical or industrial sounds. Swartz created a composition of voice utilizing the 150+ foot length of the space to “throw” sound back and forth along the stretch of the bridge and make aural illusions with distant and proximate spatial harmonies. The sounds constantly move through the space, and listeners’ perception of it changes as they walk or stand still, creating effects of harmony and disharmony, concord and dissonance — the emotional states created by listening to voices join together.

Featuring the voices of Estelí Gomez, Cameron Beauchamp, Eric Dudley, Martha Cluver, Thann Scoggin, Elisa Sutherland, Eliza Bagg, Stella Prince, José Chardiet, Nicolas S. Eugst Mathews, Isabel Vázquez, Lulu Hart, Maria Sonevytsky, Edwina Unrath, David Moss, Sue LaRocca, Jennifer Odlum, Molly Odlum, Frida Balloghi-Smith, Marshall McConville, Jenny Monick, Junah Sibony, and Elodie Sibony. Special thanks to Brad Wells, director, Roomful of Teeth, and Ben Senterfit, director, Community Music Space, Red Hook, New York.

Zarouhie Abdalian Chanson du ricochet

A voice, reverberating from the brick walls of small outbuildings that define a grassy courtyard, reads a list of tools as though reciting an incantation. Through the transformative process of rhythm and articulation, Zarouhie Abdalian’s sound installation Chanson du ricochet (2016) allows us to hear each term anew—whether familiar (trowel, reamer, ruler, mop) or highly specialized (jeweler’s rouge, blocking pin, snap link, hammerstone.)

Abdalian is interested in memory and boundaries and the way that they are articulated through both the built environment and our perceptions of it. She created an earlier iteration of Chanson du riochet for Prospect.3, New Orleans, for which she used shaped mirrors to highlight original building materials, accompanied by a recording of a voice reading a list of tools.

At MASS MoCA, she created a new iteration of the work for the 2016 exhibition The Space Between, responding to the history of the museum’s site as a factory for the production of printed textiles and electrical equipment. Abdalian placed transducers on the interior surface of windows in an oft-overlooked portion of the museum’s campus, transforming the museum’s industrial buildings into speakers that give voice to the labor too often erased from view. Names of tools ricochet along the road taken by trucks carrying materials for new works being made at the museum, inviting visitors to consider the processes by which art—and by extension, other goods—are made.

Conjuring links between the site’s historical and current uses, Chanson du ricochet summons the buildings’ industrial origins, and points towards its continuing re-inhabitation as a site of artistic production, suspending us between past, present, and future.


Kissing Through A Curtain

“How would you like to be kissed through a curtain?”
“Better than not kissing at all.”
An exchange on the act of translation, as recounted by poet Kwame Dawes.

Translation offers uncertain intimacy. We wonder: what is lost in translation? What kernel of the original cannot be carried to the new language and context? And what is gained? New meanings accrete in translation, as each new language, context, and the passage of time itself adds new associations.

The ten contemporary artists in this exhibition address boundaries, and attempts to communicate across them: not just between different languages, but also between nations, cultures, media, bodies, and individual minds. Their work invites us to consider moments of mediated contact, and uncertain communication, as potential sites for the generation of new knowledge.

We installed this exhibition before MASS MoCA temporarily closed its doors to the public due to COVID-19: before interactions took place through masks and digital screens; before countries’ borders were locked down still further; before the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police, and numerous other acts of anti-Black violence, sparked a new wave of protests around the United States and the world.

In some ways, the exhibition is already the type of work that MASS MoCA, as a contemporary art museum, does not usually show: a piece of history. And yet, many of the questions asked here feel even more urgent today than they did months ago. Borders—and the ways that they differentiate one group from another—are hotly contested. Is the act of translation a way of reaching across borders and forging new connections, or is it another form of appropriation and colonization? How do we mourn in the mediated and highly partisan “togetherness” of social media? If communication from one context to another is always imperfect, why do we attempt it at all?
Including works by Nasser Alzayani, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Kim Faler, Justin Favela, Osman Khan, Christine Sun Kim, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Jimena Sarno, Clarissa Tossin, and Jessica Vaughn.


Wendy Red Star/Apsaalooke: Children of The Large-Beaked Bird

Be sure to make an advanced reservation to see the art of Wendy Red Star, on view in Kidspace, MASS MoCA’s child-centric gallery (that adults love!). There is no charge to visit Kidspace, and you may also visit it for free (so long as you don’t plan to visit the other MASS MoCA galleries).

Multi-media artist Wendy Red Star, a member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe, offers accounts of American history that rectify the frequently flawed narratives about Native people. An avid researcher, Red Star re-examines cultural artifacts and primary source historic imagery, and uses them as the foundation for her beautifully annotated photographs and installations. The Children of the Large-Beaked Bird exhibition provides an opportunity for adults and children to look at history and representation with fresh eyes. As Red Star notes: “It is critical to preserve and pass along culture, heritage, and shared values while also providing future generations with a sense of identity, solidarity, and empowerment.” 

At the center of Children of the Large-Beaked Bird (the English translation of “Apsáalooke”) are Red Star’s annotated portraits of the historic 1880 Crow Peace Delegation that brought leaders to meet with U.S. officials for land rights negotiations. Using red pen to add text and definition to the archival images, she draws attention to the ways in which the original portraits deliberately remove the leaders from their contexts. New work created specifically for MASS MoCA turns these images into large photographic blow-ups and lifesize cutout figures, with the goal to bring the portrait sitters to life, and reclaim Red Star’s ancestors.

The exhibition will also feature plush stuffed toy animals based on drawings and notes by Peelatchiwaaxpáash/Chief Medicine Crow, together self-portraits of the artist, as she places herself in artificial, colorful dioramas while wearing traditional Apsáalooke clothing.

The Apsáalooke language — spoken today by just 3-4,000 tribal members primarily living in Montana — is at risk of vanishing. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S. government attempted to systematically eradicate the Crow language, requiring Crow children to learn and speak only English at the boarding schools they were required to attend. Since the Crow language is an oral tradition, removal of these children from their culture also contributed to the demise of the language. At the ArtBar, visitors can listen to the artist’s father speak Crow words for animals and then interpret them as part of a community drawing project. Red Star’s drawing activity builds awareness of her Native language and demonstrates the importance of clear and accurate communication across cultures (and perhaps its impossibility). 

About the Artist

Artist Wendy Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonization, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty and unsettling. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to her practice, along with creating a wider forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art.

Martin Puryear: Big Bling

Martin Puryear’s monumental sculpture Big Bling has landed for at least the next five years at MASS MoCA. Sited at the museum’s extreme southern perimeter in the heart of the downtown North Adams, Massachusetts business district, the sculpture creates a dramatic new connection between MASS MoCA’s 16-acre, 28-building factory campus and the city’s Main Street business district.

The spectacular forty-foot-tall work — the largest temporary installation Puryear has created — is built of wood, Puryear’s signature material, and chain-link fence. Through abstract means, the artist has crafted an ongoing dialogue with history, art history, identity, and politics. Here, “bling,” a slang term for flashy jewelry and accessories, is rooted in the urban youth, hip-hop, and rap culture of the 1990s. Originally commissioned for New York City’s Madison Square Park, the title of the artwork and its initial placement in the heart of Manhattan demonstrate Puryear’s recognition that Big Bling was a reflection of the character and the inhabitants of dense urban environments. Restored and transposed to MASS MoCA’s campus, the significant scale of the piece in relation the lower-scale and density of a New England factory town changes viewers’ perspective while amplifying the work’s monumental impact.

In the studio, Puryear’s sculpture applies methods gleaned from traditional crafts, carpentry, boat building, and other trades with spare, exacting stylistic dignity and formal clarity. Unlike his sculptures made from bronze, iron, stone, or carefully assembled from solid wood, Big Bling is constructed industrially from curved laminated wooden beams and exterior grade plywood, materials suitable for outdoor building. Instead of the wire mesh and tar that he has sometimes used for the surface of his sculptures, here Puryear has chosen a quintessentially urban material, stout chain-link fencing, to wrap the plywood construction. Metal fences function as makeshift boundaries around empty lots, construction sites, and playgrounds, concurrently protecting property and excluding people. Puryear has posed a similar dilemma in Big Bling: the multi-tiered work suggests an edifice that might be ascended level by level, but whose entry is blocked by a barrier fence.

A sleek golden shackle is stationed near the pinnacle of the colossal sculpture. It is anchored near the top of the structure — a shimmering beacon, a harness that both adorns and restrains the sculptural form. Big Bling is part animal form, part abstract sculpture, and part intellectual meditation.

About the Artist
Puryear earned his BA from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. in 1963 and his MFA from Yale University in 1971. After serving in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964–1966), he attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts (1966–1968). The Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a retrospective of his work in 2007. Puryear has received, among others, the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1980), a Louis Comfort Tiffany and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1992) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (1994). Puryear represented the United States in the 2019 Venice Biennale. The artist lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

Gamaliel Rodrigues: La Travesia / Le Voyage

Gamaliel Rodríguez’s large-scale works on paper imagine landscapes inspired by the two-fold character of his native Puerto Rico, which the artist recently described as a mix of “beauty and chaos.” Merging industrial and natural environments, Rodríguez depicts abandoned structures surrounded by verdant greenery — which he often renders as an aerial view. Devoid of a human presence, the overgrown buildings have a dystopic yet familiar feel, prompting mis-recognitions by viewers reminded of locations in their own hometowns. Though the artist’s subjects are fictitious, they are inspired by the accumulation of manufacturing projects in Puerto Rico established and ultimately abandoned by US companies lured by tax breaks and cheap labor in the mid-20th century.

Rodríguez is currently working on a new 60-foot work on paper for MASS MoCA’s Hunter Hallway. Inspired by his experience of North Adams and its post-industrial landscape during his time in the museum’s studio residency program, Rodríguez’s drawing conflates the repurposed architecture of MASS MoCA’s large, former-factory complex with architecture of Puerto Rico and other locations from around the globe.

Using felt, acrylic, colored pencil, and ballpoint pen, Rodríguez skillfully renders his hyper-realistic landscapes in rich blues and purples that are simultaneously seductive and unsettling. Mari Rodríguez Binnie, art historian and art professor at Williams College, connected the blue ballpoint pen so prevalent in the artist’s work to its role as the quintessential bureaucractic tool. It is indeed an overwhelmed bureaucracy (and mountains of certificates and forms) often blamed for blocking local entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico, which is overly dependent on outside investment. The pen became ubiquitous in the same period during and after WWII that witnessed “Operation Bootstrap,” the government’s efforts to diversify its sugar-based economy and bring modern industry to the island.

Sarah Oppenheimer: S-334473

Sarah Oppenheimer creates precise instruments for manipulating our built environment–altering our frame of spatial reference, displacing our experience of inside and out, and inverting our sense of what is near and far, here and there.

S-334473 performs as a dynamic spatial switch: two instruments work in tandem to reorient the exchange of sight and circulation within Building 6. A visitor’s touch sets the work in motion, pivoting volumes of glass and metal along a 45-degree axis through a defined arc. When vertically oriented, each instrument nestles between the buildings’ historic columns. Once rotated, the volumes slip out of alignment and become horizontal reflecting screens. The arcing movement from vertical column to horizontal lintel creates unexpected thresholds and pathways. While manipulating the instruments’ contours and orientation, visitors walk beneath and around their outermost edges. Sightlines are redirected through the building’s interior spaces, towards the north-facing windows and onto the Hoosic River and mountains beyond.

The rotational axis of the instruments extends through the ceiling onto the floor above, where the mechanical infrastructure that sets the work in motion is revealed to visitors. The arc of each switch is visible, creating an index of the instrument’s position below.

Oppenheimer’s S-334473 mobilizes the museum’s architecture in order to transform and extend the visitor’s understanding of the exhibition spaces it reveals, and disrupts. In the process, artwork and viewer become joined in an intricate choreography of the inhabited environment.

About the Artist
Sarah Oppenheimer (b. 1972 in Austin, TX) received a BA from Brown University in 1995 and an MFA from Yale University in 1999. Recent solo projects include S-281913 (Pérez Art Museum Miami 2016), S-334473 (Wexner Center for the Arts 2017), S-399390 (Mudam, Luxembourg 2016), 33-D (Kunsthaus Baselland 2014) and W-120301, an architecturally embedded permanent commission at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2012). Her work has been exhibited at such venues as the Andy Warhol Museum (2012); the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2009); Art Unlimited, Art Basel (2009); Skulpturens Hus (Stockholm); the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Mattress Factory; the Drawing Center; and the Sculpture Center. She is the recipient of a Rome Prize Fellowship (2011–12), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship (2009), and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2007). Ms. Oppenheimer is currently a senior critic at the Yale University School of Art.


Joseph Beuys: Lightning With Stag In Its Glare

The work of mid 20th-century European sculptor Joseph Beuys is grounded in a tradition of narrative sources often absent in American art of the same period. The historic symbolism of Northern Europe, Christianity, and an invocation of the spiritual power of animals and nature course throughout Beuys’ diverse activities, from performances and lectures to sculptures and drawings. For Beuys, all these works share a common sociopolitical purpose: “the victory of socialist warmth and self-determination over materialist greed and alienation.”

Beuys’ dramatic Lightning with Stag in its Glare (Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirschem), 1958–85, is the only environment that the artist cast in bronze. An offspring of Beuys’ seminal Workshop exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 1982, the work is encrusted with layers of meaning. At its core, it enacts a dramatic moment in nature: A bolt of lightning (the large, suspended sculpture) strikes the ground, illuminating a stag (cast in reflective aluminum). Other animals are present, but are not so well illuminated. There is a goat (a metal cart with a pick resting on it) and worm-like primordial animals (the dark bronze fecal forms scattered on the floor). The final element present, the Boothia Felix, is a metal tripod with a cubic mass on top, and a small compass resting on top of that. This element is named for a strip of land in northern Canada that was the first established location of the North Magnetic Pole.

Beuys invokes the creative energy of nature with the forceful bolt of lightning in this work. In many other works, he incorporated conductive metals to symbolically draw energy from the universe, or blocks of lard to represent the stored caloric energy of fat. The Stag, illuminated by the lightning, has a special role in Beuys’ work and in Northern European mythologies. He repeatedly referred to it as a conductor of the soul, a Christ figure, whose shedding and regrowth of antlers symbolized resurrection and the possibility of redemption. According to Beuys, the Stag is a guardian for the Primordial Animals, which writhe on the floor without intelligence or direction. These simple creatures, like the dramatic Lightning, were cast from a pile of loam in the center of the Workshop exhibition and have small broken metal tools for heads. The humble Goat recalls an imaginary laborer, constantly and silently working in the background, a simple wheelbarrow.


Don Gummer: Primary Separation

Primary Separation was first designed by the artist Donald Gummer in 1969 in a small model, and was realized here at full scale in 2006.

The sculpture consists of a massive granite boulder, 12 feet long by 6 feet tall, sawed in half. The stone halves—separated by an 11-inch gap—are suspended 10 feet above ground, within a system of stainless steel supports and cables. Gummer’s original inspiration for Separation was a stone that reminded him of Brancusi’s sculpture, Fish. In using the stone, Gummer had Duchamp’s ready-mades in mind, but substituting for Duchamp’s man-made objects an object found in nature.

“We are delighted to be able to create a permanent home for this signal work from Gummer’s early career,” said Joseph C. Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA. “Don first showed me the work in the form of a small maquette. We were just beginning work on the Northern Berkshire District Court, and, though Don was probably not thinking of issues of justice when he conceived the work (though perhaps he was, given the societal unrest of 1969), Primary Separation seemed to me a strikingly apt metaphor for the scales of justice, a massive weight sustained in balanced repose. The stone could be rising, or falling; separating, or re-joining. The thin margin between the two parts of the whole is charged with a powerful force, and it’s not clear whether the force is repellent or attractive. We chose the placement of Primary Separation quite carefully, aligning it with MASS MoCA’s entry corridor, the Clocktower, and Tree Logic. We hope that the siting will help to visually mark the Courthouse on Marshall Street, while also linking that complex with the rest of the MASS MoCA campus.”






How Does Your Horn Sound?

In a rare 1983 interview, Jean-Michel Basquiat mulled over the difficulty of describing his painting process: “It’s like asking somebody, asking Miles [Davis], ‘How does your horn sound?’” Basquiat’s analogy points to the kinship between visual art and music—including the ways that words can fail them.

“How does your horn sound?” is the second of a series of rotating exhibitions drawn from a single private collection of music photography. In the photographs here, artists and musicians dance together at clubs, preen in Andy Warhol’s factory, and gaze at one another from behind and in front of the camera. The line between visual artist and musician blurs: many of the artists here, like Basquiat himself, have been both.

Perhaps words can’t describe a horn’s sound or explain a painting’s imagery—but these photographs can offer us brief glimpses into the lives of the people who made them.

Natalie Jeremijenko: Tree Logic

Front Courtyard Mass MoCA

Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist-experimenter. Her projects and those with an artists’ collective called the Bureau of Inverse Technology consist of creating devices and situations to gather and document overlooked facts. These data sets—and the means by which they were accumulated—range from the Despondency Index (for which the Bureau installed a motion detector camera on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, recorded suicides, and graphed the relation of suicides to stock market and other data) to Tree Logic (1999) at MASS MoCA (in which six live trees are inverted and suspended from a truss, displaying the contrived growth responses of the trees over time). In an age of the commodification of information, Jeremijenko has made data her medium.

In Tree Logic, the art of the piece is not found in its condition at any single point in time, but in the change of the trees over time. Trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism. The familiar, almost iconic shape of the tree in nature is the result of the interplay between gravitropic and phototropic forces: the tree grows away from the earth and towards the sun. When inverted, the six trees in this experiment still grow away from the earth and towards the sun—so the natural predisposition of trees might well produce the most unnatural shapes over time, raising questions about what the nature of the natural is.

By framing certain phenomena, such as tree growth or suicides, as a data set, Jeremijenko’s work illustrates the ability of scientific presentation to transform information. These phenomena are accessible without the artist’s intervention, but her presentation of them allows the viewer to examine and question them in new ways. (In this sense, her inverted trees may be compared to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain, actually an inverted urinal.)

Our perceptions of trees change when we view them as a collection of growth responses rather than as immutable symbols of the natural world. The public for a work of art, and for Tree Logic in particular, is encouraged to interpret (and debate) motives and outcomes, though the opposite is often true of “real” science, which does not invite public discourse. Through her elaborate framing systems (in this case a metal armature, stainless steel planters, and telephone poles), Jeremijenko revels in exposing the idiosyncratic manipulation intrinsic when facts are combined to form data.


Musician and sound artist Ryan Olson teams with producer and sound artist Seth Rosetter to convert the stairs and basement of MASS MoCA’s Building 10 into a musical instrument. Allovers is “played” by stimuli from its surrounding environment, from snippets of conversation and footfalls, to the rattle of carts and deliberate acts of musical intervention.

Visitors will encounter the installation as they enter the basement from the museum’s lobby. Allovers provides back-line beats — overdubs, harmonic tones, and melodies — with musical motivation to the “band” provided by visitors. An analog knob and dial, on the panel mounted on the wall facing the windows, invites visitors to alter the compositional algorithm, shifting between an array of musical atmospheres, from ambient fuzz to hard-party modes.

Allovers joins a large group of long-term sound installations commissioned by MASS MoCA, including works by Bruce Odland + Sam Auinger, Christina Kubisch, Julianne Swartz, and Zarouhie Abdalian. Like many sound artists, Olson and Rosetter combine a background in music with an interest in visual art. MASS MoCA’s commitment to sound art aligns particularly well with its unique mission, unusual among museums in that it devotes a full half of its resources and bandwidth to the performing arts. The museum’s performing arts programming is anchored by a series of festivals and concerts throughout the year: Olson’s relationship with MASS MoCA, for example, began with a 2018 concert by the band Poliça (which Olson produces).

Seth Rosetter is a Los Angeles-based sound artist. Utilizing his background in engineering, architecture, and music, he builds custom software, creates tools, and develops processes to help make and inform work. He enjoys collaborating with other artists, often providing a technological perspective. He is one half of experimental electronic duo LDX ROE (

Ryan Olson is a Minneapolis-based producer/sound artist (Marijuana Deathsquads, Poliça, Gayngs, and Dungeon Master).

Micah Lexiera Coin in the Corner

A Coin in the Corner is an installation of 100 special-edition minted coins by Toronto-based artist Micah Lexier. Originally commissioned as part of MASS MoCA’s 2012 exhibition Oh, Canada, each coin contains a simple line drawing of a coin in a corner. Lexier’s work is a clever pun for bilingual Canada, for the word corner in French translates to coin. Lexier placed 100 coins in corners throughout the whole of MASS MoCA, in exhibition spaces, the café, offices, basements, bathrooms, and even areas not accessible to the public. So, thinking of both the coin’s placement and the French translation, Lexier’s work really becomes a coin in the corner where the corner is the coin.

However, A Coin in the Corner is more than just a language pun; here at MASS MoCA, Lexier’s coins become architecture. One of the many things Lexier knows is that there is strength in numbers, as well as strength in discovery, and A Coin in the Corner exemplifies both ideas. The piece becomes a scavenger hunt of finding the micro within the macro, causing the museum’s visitors to seek out not only art but also architecture, proving once again that art can be found anywhere.

To accompany this project, an artist’s book was created that serves as the cheat sheet to the experience, with maps and photographs of each location. Museum visitors are encouraged to explore seeking out the coins on their own before consulting the maps and images to find elusive coins. The book is available in our store and can be purchased online.

A Coin in the Corner, 2012
100 minted coins installed in corners of the museum
Courtesy of the artist and Birch Contemporary, Toronto, and TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary


Victoria Palermo Bus Stand

Victoria Palermo Bus Stand

Off – Campus on Main Street in North Adams

The Bus Stand, designed by artist Victoria Palermo, is a public artwork and permanent addition to the North Adams community, adding to the movement to bring more public art to the city through the efforts of DownStreet Art. Palermo, of Queensbury, New York, is a visiting assistant professor of Art at Skidmore College. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums, including Kidspace at MASS MoCA in 2003-2004 and 2010. Recently, her work has been shown at the Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY; Salem Art Works, Salem, NY; and Union College, Schenectady, NY.

The Bus Stand was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The Bus Stand, 2012

Bruce Odland & Sam Auinger: Harmonic Bridge

Plays from 8am to 10pm under the Route 2 overpass on Marshall Street, at the southeast corner of MASS MoCA’s main parking lot.

In the MASS MoCA portion of this multi-part project, Harmonic Bridge, low sounds roll and drone under the Route 2 overpass half a block from MASS MoCA. Entering the space under the bridge, one becomes aware of a turning eddy of sound in the midst of intersecting streams of traffic. Cars pass by heading north or south on Marshall Street and east or west on the Route 2 bridge, but this linear motion is counterpoised by a rolling humming in the key of C, as calming as the rhythm of ocean waves. Although cars stream by, pedestrians lose the impetus to move forward, momentarily derailed by a cool pool of sound with its mysterious, chant-like hum. Harmonic Bridge presents an aural cross-section of North Adams, a slice of the city in the key of C, comprised of the fundamental note and its overtone series.

Richard Nonas: Cut Back Through (For Bjorn)

“There is a language of place, and it is the most direct human language there is; the most basic way to impose human order and meaning on an outside, non-human world.” — Richard Nonas

Following his ambitious exhibition in Building 5, The Man in the Empty Space, Richard Nonas has created a long-term, outdoor installation in granite for the museum grounds. For five decades, he has made works that alter our sense of landscape and architecture — of place — using the simplest of means. His vocabulary includes pared-down forms and earthy and industrial materials that have a timeless, even totemic quality. Nonas has now reimagined the southeast corner of MASS MoCA’s campus with Cut Back Through (for Bjorn), a new arrangement of the three large granite chairs and five granite stools first seen in MASS MoCA’s galleries.

Nonas often changes already-existing works into new combinations, and thus new works. And like Cut Back Through (for Bjorn), many of his works are often arranged in pairs, series, or grids which create a dialogue and tension between the individual elements while creating a new whole from these parts. The grouping of granite sculptures functions as a cut into the landscape, but they also offer museum-goers a place to rest both their bodies and minds, allowing for — and indeed provoking — intuitive, visceral responses. The granite used to make the chairs and stools was sourced in Sweden from a quarry owned by a long-time friend of the artist (the Bjorn of the title). Nonas used the materials with great efficiency; the stools are the remnants — or offcuts — left after the chair has been excised and split from the granite block. Confusing usual distinctions between art and function, the chairs confirm that for Nonas a compelling object is a compelling object, without distinction. And while Nonas’ works are familiar, they emanate powerfully and remain open and shifting — both visually as viewers walk around and through them and in meaning and association — balancing on the edge of one thing becoming another.

Erin Shirreff – Remainders

This year long exhibition in public spaces around the Clark examines Erin Shirreff’s practice—between analog and digital media, two and three dimensions, and still and moving images—and its fascination with the mythmaking behind art history. Through photographic manipulations of sculptures found in books, and ones of her own making, Shirreff asks what is left of the original experience of an artwork once it has entered the historical record, and what traces of an artist’s labor might still be legible after the fact. The exhibition includes photographs on paper and aluminum that have been creased and cut, to take on sculptural dimensions, as well as the artist’s video work. Shirreff’s painstaking process encourages slow looking, forensic attention to detail, and an appreciation that things may not be quite as they appear.
Erin Shirreff was born in 1975 in Kelowna, British Columbia and currently lives and works in Montreal. She holds a BFA in visual arts from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University. She has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunsthalle Basel; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Albright-Knox Gallery.
This exhibition is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Robert Wiesenberger, associate curator of contemporary projects. Erin Shirreff’s work is courtesy of the artist; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and Bradley Ertaskiran, Montreal.


Glenn Kainoin The Light of A Shadow

Glenn Kainoin The Light of A Shadow

I can’t believe the news today. I can’t close my eyes and make it go away. How long, how long must we sing this song?

The refrain bears repeating: how long must we sing this song?

On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, John Lewis and Hosea Williams led 600 protestors in a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a nonviolent action intended to spotlight civil rights violations, while also demanding voting rights. Known as Bloody Sunday, the peaceful protestors were attacked by troopers with tear gas. Many were beaten, leaving marchers hospitalized.

How long must we sing this song?

On January 30, 1972, 15,000 protestors marched from Bishop’s Field in Derry, Northern Ireland, in protest of violations of civil rights by the British government. British military opened fire, killing and injuring dozens. In Ireland, this date is also referred to as Bloody Sunday and has been memorialized by U2 through their iconic song of the same name.

How long must we sing this song?

On February 23, 2020, the unarmed Ahmaud Arbery was shot in Georgia while out jogging, by two white men. The police initially made no arrests. Less than a month later, on March 13, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky, by plain-clothed police officers who entered her home with a no-knock search warrant. And then on May 25th George Floyd, a 46-year old unarmed black man was brutally murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. The protests erupted yet again; Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police became rallying cries.

How long must we sing this song?

These instances are but a fraction of the many.

The song Sunday Bloody Sunday, originally written by U2 in 1983, is a plea for civil rights. It is no coincidence that the title for the song comes from the number of violent protests or civil rights throughout history. And once again, today, as we hear the news, this song rises forth again, all too pertinent decades later. Hands Up Don’t Shoot. I Can’t Breathe. Black Lives Matter.

Artist Glenn Kaino brings the idea of this song into the 21st century starting with the events of May 30, 2020. On this date, Deon Jones, a long-time collaborator and team member of Glenn Kaino Studio, was peacefully protesting in Los Angeles after the death of George Floyd when police shot him at close range in the face with a rubber bullet. One inch lower, and he would have lost his hearing. One inch higher, and he would have been dead.

This project started last year with a sculpture of a circular arrangement of metal bars. It was a type of wall that Kaino envisioned “had bent upon itself into a circle. A device that once separated now connected, but problematically so.” Each bar is sectioned into varying lengths to play a specific musical note when hit with a baton. Struck in sequence, the bars play the guitar track from U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday. This sculpture conjures the intimidating structures often used in contexts of political suppression and border divisions, yet, through the creation of this sculpture, Kaino transforms the barrier into an instrument that gives voice through a powerful piece of music. This instrument serves as a backdrop for images of protest through history, but mostly it serves as a platform for Jones, face still swollen, to sing, to plead: How long must we sing this song.

Immediately following Jones’ attack and recovery, Kaino rallied an all-star cast of collaborators to his side – including Butch Vig, Jon Batiste, and Glenn Kotche – to re-imagine and re-contextualize the classic U2 song around Jones, who is also a vocalist. The song starts with the sculpture as an instrument, played by Kotche, expands with Batiste on the piano, and then is fully realized with Jones’ singing. He sings with passion and despair, channeling his responsibility as a public voice in a chorus speaking out against police violence. In the accompanying video, directed by Kaino and shot by Larry Fong, Jones sings for us, “I can’t believe the news today. I can’t close my eyes and make it go away.” He sings again and again, “How long must we sing this song?” A refrain seemingly meant for this moment, but tragically nearly 30 years old.

Jones’ rendition of Sunday Bloody Sunday is the first component of Glenn Kaino’s exhibition In the Light of a Shadow, which will open at MASS MoCA in February 2021. It is a hopeful gesture, offering the promise of new possibility — a desperately needed emotional experience in this anxiety-ridden moment. This exhibition allows us to look at the intersectionality between the history of civil rights and the racial and ecological implications of the global pandemic. The video will debut on Kaino’s new digital platform, Ships, which will initiate and extend the dialogue around a wide range of studio activities, in exhibitions, film, and across the digital and experiential worlds.


Close To You

Close To You

Conceived in the wake of a global pandemic – an event inflected by loss, precarity, and distance between bodies –Close to You invites audiences to reflect upon physical, emotional, and spiritual proximity. The exhibition presents the work of six artists who share an engagement with kinship.

A term rooted in anthropology, kinship has historically been restricted to the realm of the heteronormative family, validating relationships born of biology and of blood.Close to You embraces a queer framing of kinship in which bonds are forged through affinity and free will. The artists in the exhibition make works that recognize the intimate relationships we form with people, as well as the deep connections we feel with places, objects, and histories. Acknowledging the oppressive forces of systemic racism and homophobia, this exhibition centers the voices of BIPOC and queer artists, who – in spite of marginalization and disenfranchisement – have imagined divergent modes of kinship in the form of chosen families, safe havens, and shared languages. Close to You includes the work of Laura Aguilar, Chloë Bass, Maren Hassinger, Eamon Ore-Giron, Clifford Prince King, and Kang Seung Lee. Laura Aguilar’s self-portraits frame kinship as a relationship between self and place, presenting the artist’s nude body at rest within a desert landscape – an environment in which she felt a rare sense of belonging. Interconnectedness also materializes in Maren Hassinger’s Love, an installation made of pink plastic bags filled with human breath and love notes. Eamon Ore-Giron’s paintings meld indigenous and craft traditions with Latin American modernisms. Using elemental shapes and patterns, Ore-Giron’s paintings probe the capacity of abstraction to serve as an introspective space, one in which we feel connected to our identities and our origins. Within the intimate photographs of Clifford Prince King, kinship manifests between people, materializing in the everyday rituals and moments of tender embrace shared by Black queer men. Kang Seung Lee’s sculpture, adopting the form of a hammock, provides a metaphorical resting place for ballet dancer and choreographer Choo San Goh, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987. Finding kinship within history, Lee excavates the memory of this Asian queer artist, preserving a lesser-known legacy susceptible to erasure. And finally, Chloë Bass’ conceptual artwork foregrounds moments of intimacy experienced in the every day, calling attention to typically unexamined acts or exchanges in order to destabilize assumptions about human social behavior.

The six artists featured in Close to You mine the emotional potential of painting, sculpture, photography, and installation, probing the capacity of the visual arts to conjure feelings of kinship – even if for a moment.


Shaun Leonardo you Walk…

Shaun Leonardo you Walk…

You walk… is an interactive installation by Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist Shaun Leonardo. Translating his performance practice into a participatory installation, Leonardo offers a series of visual and textual prompts — drawing from themes present in exhibitions on view throughout the museum — to invite us to consider how we process and embody space, ideas, and connectivity.

Using visual elements like two-way mirrors and mock windowscapes, Leonardo creates a space that both reflects a shared physical present but also alludes to the differences that shape our individual perspectives. Text prompts throughout the space encourage visitors to relive memories of simple movements and gestures – walking down the street, averting your gaze from a stranger, holding someone’s hand. These reflections draw awareness to experiences that can’t be articulated as much as felt. By unlocking these physical narratives, Leonardo offers an opportunity to reflect on the ways we perceive ourselves and engage with others.

Shaun Leonardo’s You walk… is the inaugural exhibition in MASS MoCA’s newly established community engagement space. Located within the Hunter Mezzanine, the project space was established with two-year funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and will serve as a convening area for individual visitors, groups, staff, and artists.


James Turrell: Skyspace

Thirty years in the making, James Turrell’s largest free-standing circular Skyspace opens on the MASS MoCA campus in May 2021.

Measuring 40 feet in diameter and 40 feet high, this repurposed concrete water tank transforms into one of Turrell’s signature immersive light installations, carving out a small piece of the sky and framing it as a canvas with infinite depth. An aperture in the ceiling opens during dusk and dawn, exposing the sky while subtle interior lighting creates the illusion of bringing the sky to just beyond the viewer’s grasp. During the day, the dome will be sealed and will be transformed into a tightly-controlled multisensory environment, with light projected across the cylindrical interior walls and domed ceiling, and sound altered by the contours of the architecture. Skyspace joins Into the Light, a long-term retrospective of Turrell’s work that currently includes nine light installations, making MASS MoCA the only North American institution offering a comprehensive overview of the artist’s career.


Shaun Leonardo you Walk…

Shaun Leonardo you Walk… 

You walk… is an interactive installation by Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist Shaun Leonardo. Translating his performance practice into a participatory installation, Leonardo offers a series of visual and textual prompts — drawing from themes present in exhibitions on view throughout the museum — to invite us to consider how we process and embody space, ideas, and connectivity.

Using visual elements like two-way mirrors and mock windowscapes, Leonardo creates a space that both reflects a shared physical present but also alludes to the differences that shape our individual perspectives. Text prompts throughout the space encourage visitors to relive memories of simple movements and gestures – walking down the street, averting your gaze from a stranger, holding someone’s hand. These reflections draw awareness to experiences that can’t be articulated as much as felt. By unlocking these physical narratives, Leonardo offers an opportunity to reflect on the ways we perceive ourselves and engage with others.

Shaun Leonardo’s You walk… is the inaugural exhibition in MASS MoCA’s newly established community engagement space. Located within the Hunter Mezzanine, the project space was established with two-year funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and will serve as a convening area for individual visitors, groups, staff, and artists.

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James Turrell – Nicholas Mosse and William Burke Lapsed Quaker Ware

This series of black basalt tableware is a collaboration between James Turrell and Irish potter Nicholas Mosse of Kilkenny, Ireland. The pottery was inspired by the work of the innovative English potter, Josiah Wedgwood, who made very decorative black basalt ware for the general English market in the 18th century, and also created a simpler version for the Quakers, particularly for the American market. Turrell, who was raised a Quaker, has memories of the pottery from his grandmother’s home.

While spending time in Ireland in the 1990s, Turrell was introduced to Mosse, who like Turrell was a lapsed Quaker, and the two set out to revive the more restrained, surprisingly modern-looking Wedgwood tradition. The basalt they used to make the vessels—a volcanic rock—is sourced from Turrell’s Roden Crater, a monumental artwork located in a dormant volcanic cinder cone in Arizona’s Painted Desert region.

The pottery is presented on tables, sideboards, and cabinets designed in collaboration with furniture maker William Burke of Flagstaff, Arizona, and made in the cherry wood favored by the Quakers. The chairs by Thomas Moser are a refinement of the Quaker versions of the English Windsor chair that came to be popular in the U.S. in the late Colonial period. The black of the vessels and the red of the wood recall the hues of the cinder at the Crater where the tableware will be used by visitors.

A presentation of Lapsed Quaker Ware is also on view at Hancock Shaker Village just down the road in Pittsfield, MA.

Richard Nielsen: This Is Not A Gag

In March 2020, Los Angeles-based artist Richard Nielsen began painting portraits of people in their COVID-19 face masks. On view at MASS MoCA, This is Not a Gag includes his first set of 49 paintings. Presented in a Zoom-like grid, the series shows the determination behind the eyes of artists, writers, and friends of the artist and MASS MoCA. The subject’s faces may be covered, but variations in masks and individual expressions speak volumes about our lives today. These paintings are not about the pandemic, per se, but about the fiercest and finest parts of human nature.

Earlier in the winter of 2020, COVID-19 began to spread globally. In the United States, one after another, states started to close, issuing shelter-in-place orders and requiring face masks to be worn in public. Words like isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and pandemic became part of our daily vocabulary, and teleconferencing became our primary way to connect.

As the pandemic grew, face masks were nearly impossible to find, so people improvised, devising creative ways to keep the respiratory droplets at bay. From bandanas and hand-sewn creations to torn T-shirts and heavy-duty construction respirators, the masks, made to protect, also distance, covering our faces and our expressions. Yet they also acted like micro-billboards, allowing people to exercise their freedom of speech – with masks signaling “VOTE” or “Black Lives Matter” or “MAGA” – and express their individual style.

The impetus for Nielsen’s mask portraits came as he caught his reflection in a gas station window, realizing his masked face was the new normal. He immediately went home and started taking selfies – stretching his arms to model the social distance bubble that would become all too familiar. He then asked his friends and colleagues to send their own mask selfies for him to paint. His recent works address digital data and image transmission, with paintings inspired by photographs gathered from friends or social media, exploring how we relate to representation in the digital age.

As the pandemic continued, masks became political – anti-maskers abounded, while others took donning masks not only as a smart health move but also as a sign of shared civic responsibility. This added meaning allows Nielsen to imbue his subjects’ personalities and beliefs into their portraits. For Nielsen, the mask creates an abstract surface on the face, one that his subjects can use for self-expression, while also creating a space that he can play with in paint. The images are full of individuality, showing the essence of each human, even when we cannot see their whole face.

When Nielsen shared the first images of this series with MASS MoCA’s senior curator, Denise Markonish, she started to gather mask selfies from museum employees, exhibiting artists, and friends. Nielsen’s paintings are hung in a large grid, like an epic Zoom call, a temporarily catalyzed community, united yet apart. Participants include artists familiar to MASS MoCA such as Nick Cave, Bob Faust, Marcos Ramirez ERRE, Shaun Leonardo, Mary Lum, Kim Faler, and Helga Davis, alongside writers Phong Bui and Charles Schultz, MASS MoCA staff, and Los Angeles artists Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke, Suzanne Lacy, and more.

Nielsen paints with both gesture and assuredness, capturing a fire in the eyes of his subjects. In the end, his paintings remind us of human resiliency in a moment when everything feels out of control.

About the artist:
Richard Nielsen is an artist, photographer, and printmaker. With a background in lithography and etching, his photographic practice is informed by the expanded field of printmaking. Committed to offering printmaking opportunities to established and emerging artists, Nielsen’s Los Angeles studio, Untitled Prints & Editions, has hosted guest artists from around the world. In Los Angeles, Nielsen has shown his work recently at Lucas Reiner and DENK Galleries and currently has an exhibition at Track 16 Gallery. Additionally, Nielsen has been a close collaborator with Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio since 2007.

Taryn Simon The Pipes

Taryn Simon’s large-scale outdoor sculpture The Pipes will be on long-term view on the MASS MoCA campus starting May 29, 2021. What began as an oversized concrete instrument for a cacophony of global mourning in Simon’s work An Occupation of Loss (The Armory, 2016) will be populated by the sounds, collective call and response, and movements of a living public. The 11 structures that make up the installation – which Simon designed in collaboration with Shohei Shigematsu of architecture firm OMA – are an immersive experience, offered to the public as a sacred space for reflection, impromptu performance, and stargazing.

he Pipes joins MASS MoCA’s growing constellation of long-term outdoor artworks sited throughout the museum’s campus and downtown North Adams, including works by Jenny Holzer, Martin Puryear, James Turrell, and Franz West. This will be Simon’s second project at MASS MoCA, following her acclaimed 2018 solo exhibition A Cold Hole + Assembled Audience.

Ceramics in the Expanded Field

Ceramics in the Expanded Field brings together a group of eight artists who are changing the way we think of clay. Their ambitious works integrate ceramics—a medium long siloed and marginalized—with disciplines ranging from photography and video to painting and performance. While they push ceramics beyond its traditional functional forms, these artists simultaneously connect their work to the complex material and social histories of pottery as well as to other crafts and modes of making that lie outside usual fine art definitions, including basket weaving, furniture design, the building trades, and lowrider culture.Ceramics in the Expanded Field features work by Nicole Cherubini, Armando Guadalupe Cortés, Francesca DiMattio, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Kahlil Robert Irving, Anina Major, Rose B. Simpson, and Linda Sormin.

Anne Thompson – Trail Signs

Anne Thompson – Trail Signs

Anne Thompson has long explored the shifting meaning of signs and symbols in relation to their social setting, whether making paintings, prints, or outdoor projections. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began designing posters featuring bold, black-and-white symbols and installing them on trail kiosks throughout Berkshire County. This unsanctioned project sought to engage and complicate public messaging at a time when people increasingly ventured into and sought meaning in the outdoors. As striking as they are mysterious, Thompson’s abstract forms suggest public wayfinding, but also digital iconography, modernist logotypes, or even ancient languages. Now, Thompson continues this series at the Clark, where she will use the existing infrastructure of trail kiosks on and around the museum campus for a rotating installation. Every two weeks for the two-month duration of the project, the artist will install new sets of posters onto the blank surfaces of seven freestanding wood structures, for a total of forty-eight unique prints. Thompson uses wheat paste, a delicate, impermanent technique, to evoke the layered, worn, and torn textures of urban streetscapes in this natural setting. And by mixing metaphors—organic and artificial, public and private, old and new, evocative and opaque—Thompson invites open-ended and ephemeral encounters on the trails.

About The Artist

Anne Thompson (b. 1963 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina) is a visual arts faculty member at Bennington College, where she is director and curator of the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery. Thompson will document each of the prints in situ and produce an artist’s book at the conclusion of the project.
 This project is presented in partnership with Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation.

Tomo Sakal Curates Glass: Cold Working

Tomo Sakal Curates Glass: Cold Working

November 5th – December 31, 2021

Coldworking refers to the fabrication of glass at room temperature, and typically involves grinding, polishing, cutting, and laminating. Most handmade glass requires some coldworking, and some glass artists specialize in this craft. 
​In this show, The focus is on showing the various aspects of coldworking. There is a large range of techniques, finishes, and effects. Please enjoy!

Salmon Falls Gallery has the very great pleasure of welcoming Tomo Sakai and her curatorial efforts with this new show, in which she has assembled outstanding examples of glass artists practicing cold working. Tomo explains:

“Coldworking refers to the fabrication of glass at room temperature, and typically involves grinding, polishing, cutting, and laminating. Most handmade glass requires some coldworking, and some glass artists specialize in this craft. 
In this show, I focused on showing the various aspects of coldworking. There is a large range of techniques, finishes, and effects. Please enjoy!”.

Artists for Food @ Salomon Falls Gallery

Come into the gallery and buy beautiful artwork from this exhibit! At least 20% of the retail price goes directly to the Food Bank Farm. Help end hunger and support local artists, all at the same time. Beauty and Food!

What could be better than supporting our local artists? Why, supporting our local artists and giving to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts at the same time! Feed your soul with beauty when you purchase something from the exhibit, and your purchase will help feed hungry bodies right here in our region. It’s a win/win!

This exhibit raised so much money for the Food Bank Farm last year, we just had to do it again!

Join our fundraising team, or just plain donate to the cause by clicking the link above!

Competing Currents: Twentieth-Century Japanese Prints

Competing Currents: Twentieth-Century Japanese Prints

This exhibition explores two parallel Japanese print-making movements through the Clark’s collection of shin-hanga and sōsaku-hanga works. Although conceived in opposition, these two movements became deeply intertwined. By focusing on two key moments in the international exchange of Japanese prints in the twentieth century, the inter-war period and the post-war period, the exhibition considers how travel, tourism, and commercialism intersected within the medium of printmaking during the period. 

Shin-hanga, or ‘New Prints,’ reached their zenith of popularity in the 1930s, following a concerted promotional effort by the publisher Watanabe, whose offices in Japan and London, as well as distribution routes to the United States, facilitated a renewed fervor for the Japanese print abroad. Following the model established by famed ukiyo-e printmakers during the Edo Period, shin-hanga prints were created through a collaborative process whereby work was divided amongst the artist, carver, printer, and publisher. The picturesque views of famous places (meishō) of Kawase Hasui and lyrical landscapes and dusk-shrouded street scenes of Yoshida Hiroshi constitute the majority of the Clark’s collection of shin-hanga works. Further, prints within the collection by artists such as Torii Kotondo, Tsuchiya Koitsu, and Takahashi Hiroaki would further add to visitors’ understanding of the movement.

These works will be put into conversation with the Clark’s collection of sōsaku-hanga, or, ‘Creative Prints’. Arising as a direct response to shin-hanga’s popularity, sōsaku hanga artists emphasized their individual agency in creating works of art. Indeed, two works within the collection by the sōsaku-hanga artist Saitō Kiyoshi are coupled with small slips of paper that declare the prints “self-carved and self-printed in Japan.” Although sōsaku-hanga prints did not receive the same amount of attention as their counterparts during the inter-war years, the movement’s works became ubiquitous after WWII.