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Roberto Visani’s “cardboard slave kit, freedman blend” (2021), from “Form/Reform,” an exhibit opening on March 12 at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

The Arts

Seven new exhibits to open at museum

BMAC to present a ‘wide range of curatorial and artistic perspectives and a variety of media, from sculpture and installation to painting and digital art’

BRATTLEBORO—Seven new solo exhibits will open at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) on Saturday, March 12, featuring work by M. Carmen Lane, Roberto Visani, Yvette Molina, Mildred Beltré Martinez, Sachiko Akiyama, Louisa Chase, and Anne Spalter.

The museum will be closed Sunday, March 6 through Friday, March 11 to install the new exhibits.

“This group of exhibits showcases a wide range of curatorial and artistic perspectives and a variety of media, from sculpture and installation to painting and digital art,” BMAC Director of Exhibitions Sarah Freeman said in a news release.

In lieu of an opening reception, BMAC will celebrate the artists and curators on Saturday, May 14, at 5 p.m.

• For the exhibit “(í:se) Be Our Guest/Stolen,” Cleveland-based artist M. Carmen Lane experimented with silkscreen printing to create a new body of work based on their family’s personal histories of displacement and dispossession.

“In much of their work, M. Carmen Lane draws from their experience as a Two-spirit African American and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk/Tuscarora) to connect family events and history to broader narratives around intergenerational trauma and loss that are at the core of the ‘American experience,’” said Mildred Beltré Martinez, who curated the exhibit. “Reflection on repeated displacements offers a way to uncover, recover, and heal from the many iterations of forced migrations and loss.”

• Curated by David Rios Ferreira, “Form/Reform” features Roberto Visani’s do-it-yourself, cardboard-kit recreations of well-known art historical objects that reference the trans-Atlantic slave trade, including sculptures by Hiram Powers, Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, and others.

“Visani forms and reforms art historical depictions of enslaved people through research, digital modeling, and laser-cut cardboard segments,” said Rios Ferreira. “Like much of Visani’s practice, these works examine the Black body through a reinterpretation of historical artworks and artifacts.”

“Seeing these iconic sculptures recreated in such a wildly different, non-traditional, and ‘disposable’ medium asks the viewer to consider the works’ history, context, and role in the American imagination as objects and as symbols,” said Freeman.

“Big Bang Votive,” an installation by Yvette Molina, is part of an ongoing collaborative project in which the artist gathers stories from people about what sparks delight or inspires love in their lives, then makes an egg tempera painting of a representative object from each story.

Since the beginning of the project, Molina has amassed nearly 300 stories.

“The paintings will fill the gallery, creating a galaxy of shared joy and human experience,” said Freeman, who curated the exhibit.

“Big Bang Votive” provided an opportunity for a collaboration involving BMAC, Windham Regional Career Center, and the Vermont Folklife Center, all of which took part in audio recording workshops.

Representatives of the three organizations gathered and edited stories, then worked with Molina to choose ones whose objects would be turned into paintings to be included in the exhibit.

“Between Starshine and Clay,” curated by BMAC Curator Emerita Mara Williams, features a diverse body of work by Mildred Beltré Martinez (who curated the M. Carmen Lane exhibit).

The exhibit presents selected works from “Skin in the Game,” an ongoing series of figurative works in which the artist questions what she is willing to put on the line for her beliefs, and “Slogans for the Revolution That Never Was,” a text-based series designed to undercut the idea of the “slogan.”

“Beltré Martinez’s art is technically adept and imbued with an animating presence,” said Williams. “Whatever form a piece takes, it is always in service of the artwork’s conceptual and emotional themes.”

“Through Lines” consists of wooden sculptures by Sachiko Akiyama that draw on a wide range of influences, including the artist’s Japanese American heritage, personal experiences, family history, and dreams, as well as Egyptian funerary sculptures, medieval Christian woodcarvings, and work by sculptors Constantin (1)Brâncuși and Anne Chu.

“I am interested in using tactile, assertive forms to describe the psyche — not a specific emotion or thought, but rather a state of concentration and introspection,” Akiyama wrote in a statement that accompanies the exhibition. “I hope that the viewer can identify with my sculptures, that the personal becomes universal.”

• Elissa Watters, who curated the recent BMAC exhibit “Natalie Frank: Painting with Paper,” returns with “Fantasy Worlds,” a survey of the art of Louisa Chase (1951–2016). The exhibit features sculpture, drawing, painting, and printmaking from across Chase’s 40-year career. It includes objects that have never been exhibited before, including several preliminary drawings recently found in the artist’s studio in East Hampton, N.Y.

The works of art “trace the development of motifs that recur across Chase’s oeuvre,” Watters said. “According to Chase, the motifs symbolized her own changeable internal feelings and their relationship to the external world.”

“Anne Spalter: The Wonder of It All” is BMAC’s first exhibition of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Displayed on six video screens, Spalter’s NFT artworks explore themes of travel, outer space, and the unconscious mind.

Spalter is a digital mixed-media artist who founded the original digital fine arts courses at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design and authored the textbook The Computer in the Visual Arts. She presented “An Introduction to NFT Art” for BMAC in 2021.

“An NFT is a cryptocurrency token with associated information that can include connections to art images as well as artist and collector information,” Spalter said. “Although digital art is not new, and neither are the ideas of certificates of authenticity or online commerce, in NFTs these forces have merged into a powerful juggernaut.”

Museum offers events, talks in conjunction with exhibits

BMAC will present numerous in-person and virtual events in the coming months — in-person, virtual, and hybrid — including talks by M. Carmen Lane (Thursday, March 31), Sachiko Akiyama (Thursday, April 7), art historian Renée Ater (Thursday, April 21), Elissa Watters (Thursday, May 19), and Roberto Visani and David Rios Ferreira (Thursday, May 26).

In connection with the Yvette Molina exhibit, BMAC will offer Storytelling with Vermont Folklife Center Director of Education Alexandra Antohin (Thursday, April 14), Night Skies and Stories at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (Saturday, May 14), and a Storytelling Ritual with Yvette Molina (Sunday, May 15).

For a complete schedule of events, visit brattleboromuseum.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #653 (Wednesday, March 2, 2022). This story appeared on page A8.

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