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Events 01/28/2022

01/28/2022 (Friday)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

YTO Barrada: Ways To Baffle the Wind

The exhibition of new and recent work—including sculpture, drawings, textiles, films, and works on paper—is assembled to model, parody, and learn from attempts to regulate and organize nature. Ways to Baffle the Wind is a collaboration between MASS MoCA and Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, based in New Orleans. The exhibition is guest-curated by Andrea Andersson, Founding Director and Chief Curator of the Rivers Institute.

The title of the exhibition comes from a 1952 copy of the lifestyle publication Sunset Patio Book, which included an eponymous essay outlining various ways to evade the wind, including a makeshift machine made with cotton balls and string. Ways to Baffle the Wind puts objects to work in the service of studying the natural world and how our understanding of it has been shaped by cultural phenomena and historical narratives. Barrada’s own version of the makeshift wind machine, Portrait de ma mère comme un courant d'air (2021), was commissioned for the exhibition. Through her multidisciplinary, investigative approach, the Moroccan-born Barrada unearths the subaltern histories that lie beneath both our physical and social landscapes. “I’m one of those people who can’t decide until I know all the parameters,” Barrada writes. “I am a slow learner: I hoard all this research and wait for some understanding to take shape.”

 

A major component of Barrada’s practice is mobilizing forms of collecting, making, and self-education to work within an interdisciplinary space marked by botany, geography, paleontology, and geopolitics. Leaf Forms (2019) and Land and Water Forms (2019)—exhibited together for the first time—are a series of works modeled after Montessori molded trays that display forms of nature in an elusive, ordered grammatical syntax. Based on Barrada’s interest in pedagogical models and the assumptions built into educational materials, the works allow the viewer to unpack how these elements might fit together in new expanded narratives of the natural world. 

Barrada’s film installations highlight her research on educational systems and environmental forces. Tree Identification for Beginners (2017) collects imagery and documentation from her mother’s first trip to the United States in 1966, as part of a government-sponsored tour that promoted American culture and values to a generation of young Africans. The film features stop-motion animation of Montessori educational toys and grammar symbols along with voiceovers of Barrada’s mother, other tour participants, and American civil rights activists that reconstruct an era of dynamic social change, framing the educational tour as a subversive act of political resistance. The Power of Two or Three Suns (2020) tracks a fragmented journey through an industrial testing laboratory, where exposure to natural elements is simulated in order to weather-test materials for mass production. The film’s focus on the machinery and testing procedures for textiles centers Barrada’s interest in modern technologies, labor practices, and industrial demands.  

Tangier Island Wall (2019), a gambion wall of crab pots, reflects on the state of two different Tangiers: Barrada’s hometown in Morocco and a small island in the Chesapeake Bay, off the coast of Virginia. One affected by forced isolation and the other by rising sea levels, the work reflects on the interconnected impacts of ecological disaster, geopolitics, and economic inequity. Untitled (After Stella, Sunrise, III) (2020) comes from a series of recent textile works created in response to artist Frank Stella’s series of twelve Moroccan paintings made between 1964-1965. Barrada’s work—made with hand-sewn textiles and natural pigment dyes—re-centers the Moroccan art and histories rendered invisible in Stella’s work. Her use of natural dyes points to the long history of Morocco’s textile industry and the networks of trade surrounding dyes and their complex movement between the East and the West.

 

About Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada (b. 1971) is a Moroccan-French artist recognized for her multidisciplinary investigations into cultural phenomena and historical narratives. Engaging with archival practices and public interventions, Barrada’s installations uncover lesser known histories, reveal the prevalence of fiction in institutional narratives, and celebrate everyday forms of reclaiming autonomy. She is the founder of Cinémathèque de Tanger, a cultural center that has become a landmark institution bringing the Moroccan community together to celebrate local and international cinema. Barrada’s work has won numerous awards including the 2019 Roy R. Neuberger Prize, the Rotterdam Film Festival 2016 Tiger Award for short film, a nomination for the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp in Paris, the 2015 Abraaj Group Art Prize, The Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography (Peabody Museum at Harvard University), and the 2011 Deutsche Guggenheim Artist of the Year award. Barrada has had numerous solo exhibitions, including those at the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York (2019); LMCC’s Arts Center at Governor’s Island, New York (2019); Casa Luis Barragan, Mexico City, Mexico, (2019); Barbican London (2018); American Academy in Rome, Italy (2018); Secession Vienna, Austria (2016); The Power Plant, Toronto (2016); Carre d’Art, Nimes, France (2015); The Serralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal (2015); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013). 

 

Hue & Cry: French Print Making and The Debate Over Colors

Hue & Cry: French Print Making and The Debate Over Colors

Hard as it is to believe today, the use of color in fine-art printmaking was for a long time a controversial issue. This exhibition explores the surprising but steady opposition to printed color over the nineteenth century in France. Even as technical advances encouraged leading printmakers to innovate with color, entrenched voices in the art establishment continued to insist on printmaking as an art of black and white. A wide range of associations attached to color prints, along a broad spectrum from highbrow preciousness and subtlety to lowbrow commercialism and bad taste. Color lithography was a particular lightning rod for controversy, for the extreme complexity of the process meant that the designer of a print became farther and farther removed from its actual production. This was just as true for the delicate and exquisite suites produced in limited editions by Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Maurice Denis as it was for the large-scale, brightly-colored lithographic posters of Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, used to advertise popular urban entertainments.

 

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.

Free Gallery Admission at The Clark in January 2022

Free Gallery Admission at The Clark in January 2022

Open 10 am to 5 pm. Tuesday through Sunday

Exciting news!  The Clark will offer free admission for all throughout January 2022. As a way of saying "thank you" to those who have visited, and as a way of saying "welcome" to new visitors, we are pushing the doors of the museum wide open and hope you will visit often to tour our galleries and special exhibitions.

Quiet galleries and snow-covered meadows make a winter visit to the Clark particularly memorable and inspirational. We invite you to wander our galleries and grounds over the long winter months ahead.

We hope you’ll visit often and bring your friends and family to share in the beauty that surrounds us here.

Advance registration is strongly recommended. Visit clarkart.edu to register and for details on current health and safety protocols.

Franz West: Les Pommes d’Adam (Seasonal)

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.

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.

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

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

 

Allovers

Musician and sound artist Ryan Olson teams with producer and sound artist Seth Rosetter o 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 (http://ldxroe.com/).

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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kelli Rae Adams: Forever In Your Debt

Kelli Rae Adams: Forever In Your Debt

Student loan debt in the US today totals over 1.7 trillion dollars and is collectively borne by more than 44 million Americans, including artist kelli rae adams. With her installation Forever in Your Debt, adams converts this abstract burden into a tangible volume. She has crafted hundreds of wheel-thrown vessels, sized to collectively hold the average individual student debt —$37,000—in the form of coins. Each unique bowl holds approximately a pint of mixed change, worth about $40; this is also the value she assigns to the labor embodied in each vessel.

Adams offers viewers the opportunity to engage directly with the work—and the issue—by inviting them to fill a bowl with their own collected coins. In exchange, the artist will send one of the bowls to each participant at the conclusion of the yearslong project. As the vessels are filled, the red interiors—a reference to “ being in the red” or owing more money than is earned—are gradually obscured by the coins, reflecting the incremental erasure of student loan debt.

With this work, adams connects the cost of her own education and the skills it afforded her while drawing attention to how labor is valued and what is often a wide gap between educational costs and earning potential. With its participatory dimension, she asserts that the student debt burden and its ramifications socially and economically impact all Americans. This sentiment is shared by the many lawmakers and activists who are calling for some degree of forgiveness and who note the entrenched forms of economic inequality perpetuated by the loan system, with first-generation college students and African Americans borrowers among those who struggle most.

The artist will be in the gallery Saturdays and Sundays in January (as well as January 17), 1-4pm, to talk to folks about her installation and accept any coins from interested participants.

Keep an eye out for additional participation days in the future.
Or to learn more about participating in the project at MASS MoCA please email inyourdebt@massmoca.org.
You can also participate through the artist’s website:kelliraeadams.com/participate

Michelle DeRose Artist showing @ Adams Town Hall Lobby

Local Artist Michelle DeRose will have an Exhibit of her paintings at the Adams Town Hall lobby

She will be displaying a variety of acrylic paintings that include landscapes, florals, churches and even family pets.

Pieces may be available for sale or commissioned.

Stop in to view this great exhibt during Town Halls regular business hours:

Mon, Tue and Thu 8am-4pm

Wed 8am-5pm Fri 8am-12pm

Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery

Flynt Center of Early New England Life - Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery

The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery showcases Historic Deerfield's important collection of fashion, needlework, and domestic textiles. The core of the collection was assembled through the efforts of one of the museum's founders, Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986). Considered one of the finest collections in America, the collection contains items dating from the late 17th century through the mid-20th century.

Rotations and thematic displays every season are set against the backdrop of four main fibers that created most textiles before the 20th century; silk, wool, cotton, and linen. Together with the museum’s historic houses, the gallery displays a portion of the roughly 8,000 items in the fashion, needlework, and domestic textile collection. The gallery helps visitors consider the aesthetic and practical choices made and used by people in Deerfield, the Connecticut River Valley, New England, England, and Europe.  

This exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from The Coby Foundation, Ltd.

TEXTiles and Technology

Featured in the Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery in 2021 is an insightful display featuring a group of objects that used both the printed word and/or new innovations to decorate and improve life for people in the 19th and 20th centuries. The theme is explored through a selection of objects that include an engaging pair of printed cotton handkerchiefs, a rare pair of early 20th-century water wings, and a 19th-century hoop skirt patent – as well as an actual hoop skirt made to its specifications! 

TEXTiles and Technology is but one of the themes explored in the gallery, named for founder Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986), whose interest and collecting focus helped found the core of the museum’s important fashion and textile collection, which today numbers some 8,000 pieces. 

 

2021-22 Winter Season Hours: Flynt Center of Early New England Life

Open 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from November 29, 2021 - April 15, 2022
The historic houses are closed for the winter and will reopen on April 16, 2022.

Visitors can visit the village and walk along Old Main Street, a public street, at any time of the year.

Plan your visit using our village map.

Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution: The William H. Guthman Collection

Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution: The William H. Guthman Collection

Flynt Center of Early New England Life

One of the finest assemblages of this indigenous and unique American art form ever presented, these 75 powder horns offer a wealth of documentary information about the original owners and carvers who created them.

 

2021-22 Winter Season Hours: Flynt Center of Early New England Life

Open 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from November 29, 2021 - April 15, 2022
The historic houses are closed for the winter and will reopen on April 16, 2022.

Visitors can visit the village and walk along Old Main Street, a public street, at any time of the year.

Plan your visit using our village map.

 

Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture

Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture

Flynt Center of Early New England Life - Friary Gallery

Explore a dazzling array of masterworks by famous American cabinetmakers including Duncan Phyfe and Honoré Lannuier, Samuel McIntire, John and Thomas Seymour, and John Townsend.  Learn about antique furniture from the inside out, and gain a new understanding of the materials and craftsmanship that went into the creation of these spectacular objects through graphics, before-and-after views of conservation treatments, and innovative “exploded view” display techniques. Into the Woods also features a special changing section, which will feature the study of different elements. Included with general admission.

Boston Furniture Masterworks at Historic Deerfield

Come visit the “Into the Woods” gallery at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life to view an impressive array of furniture produced in Boston in the 18th and 19th centuries. Rare and exceptional forms include an 18th-century japanned high chest, an18th-century turret-top tea table, and a 19th-century sideboard attributed to cabinetmakers John and Thomas Seymour.

Into the Woods was made possible by a grant from The Americana Foundation

 

2021-22 Winter Season Hours: Flynt Center of Early New England Life

Open 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from November 29, 2021 - April 15, 2022
The historic houses are closed for the winter and will reopen on April 16, 2022.

Visitors can visit the village and walk along Old Main Street, a public street, at any time of the year.

Plan your visit using our village map.

Branches of Woodworking: Labor, Learning & Livelihood, 1760-1860

Branches of Woodworking: Labor, Learning & Livelihood, 1760-1860

Lobby, Flynt Center of Early New England Life

This exhibition reveals the evidence that objects hold about their manufacture and the diverse scope of work practiced by different kinds of woodworkers.  Artisans offered a variety of skills and services to satisfy their neighbors’ demands for everything from high-style furniture to agricultural implements.  Their trade demanded a broad range of tools and varying skills to transform wood in timber framing houses, joinery, cabinetmaking, turning, wheelwrighting, coopering, carpentry, and repair work. 

2022 Winter Hours: Flynt Center of Early New England Life

Open 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from through April 15, 2022
The historic houses are closed for the winter and will reopen on April 16, 2022.

Visitors can visit the village and walk along Old Main Street, a public street, at any time of the year.

Plan your visit using our village map.

Hibernation, Migration and Adaptation Stations!

Hibernation, Migration and Adaptation Stations!

December 16th, 2021 through February 28th, 2022

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Learn about our native animals and birds that hibernate, migrate, or change their appearance in ways to adapt to the changing seasons!

Chose a storybook, video, or craft activity!

Take home projects also available.

Designed as a self-guide activity with intermittent sessions led by a Park Interpreter.

This program is free and open to the public.

Meet at the Visitors Center – Children must be accompanied by an adult

Call 413-499-4262 for more information