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“Luminous Muqarna” by Soo Sunny Park.

The Arts

Six new exhibits debut at BMAC

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BRATTLEBORO—Six new exhibits open at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center on Saturday, March 18.

They include glass sculptures inspired by kids’ drawings, original artwork by one of America’s most beloved cartoonists, an artist’s renderings of every item in his home, an immersive installation inspired by Islamic architecture, and more.

An opening reception for museum members and the exhibiting artists will take place at 11 a.m. The exhibits open to the public at 1 p.m. They will remain on view through June 18.

Last fall, the museum invited kids in grades K-6 to create drawings and descriptions of imaginary creatures, with the promise that some of those creatures would be featured in an upcoming exhibit.

“The response was incredible,” said Museum Educator Linda Whelihan. “We received over 1,000 submissions, an amazing assortment of colorful and quirky beasts.”

The museum then turned those submissions over to a group of professional glass artists who selected 20 creatures to be transformed into glass sculptures. The glass sculptures and all 1,000 drawings that were submitted will make up the exhibit Glasstastic, on view in the museum’s Center Gallery.

Quirky creatures will also inhabit the exhibit Seriously Funny in the museum’s East Gallery. The exhibit consists of 16 original drawings and prints by longtime New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, best known for his iconic, fuzzy-haired, long-nosed denizens of New York’s Upper West Side. Koren and curator Jeff Danziger will give a talk at the museum on Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m.

Other events related to the exhibit include a presentation by James Sturm, founder of Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies, on the history of comics, scheduled for Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m., and a cartooning workshop led by syndicated cartoonist Hilary Price, the creator of “Rhymes with Orange,” on Friday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m.

The exhibit Drawn Home will fill the museum’s Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery with 792 drawings, 13 prints, and 13 sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Paul Shore.

The artworks faithfully depict every item in Shore’s home — pencils, umbrellas, toothbrushes, t-shirts, and much more. Inspired by Audubon’s heroic project to draw all the birds of North America, Shore spent four years creating the exhibit.He will give a talk about the project at the museum on Thursday, May 18, at 7 p.m.

In the museum’s Mary Sommer Room, visitors will encounter Luminous Muqarna by Soo Sunny Park, an immersive, enveloping installation inspired by Islamic architecture.

Park, an associate professor of art at Dartmouth College, created the work for the Islamic Arts Festival in the United Arab Emirates. The installation at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center will mark the first time it has been shown in the U.S.

According to the museum’s Chief Curator Mara Williams, a muqarna is an architectural feature found in traditional Islamic architecture, especially in mosques.

In a statement accompanying the exhibit, Park wrote, “In my work over the last 10 years I have moved toward using cast light as a sculptural material. I reconfigure boundary materials — fencing, plastic, glass, sheetrock — to expand and explore a variety of transitional spaces between inside and outside, sculpture and drawing, vision and perception, objects and their shadows.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, Mohammed Abdelaal, founder of Hampshire Mosque in Amherst, Mass., will present a lecture on Islamic architecture at the museum on Thursday, May 4, at 7 p.m.

Rounding out the new exhibits are Ghost Mesa, a series of lithographs by Claire Van Vliet, the founder of Janus Press and one of Vermont’s most highly regarded printmakers, and Appearances & Reality, a collection of intricate collages by Mary Welsh of Williamsville.

Williams and Welsh will engage in a public conversation about Welsh’s work at the museum on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #399 (Wednesday, March 15, 2017).

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