BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) will present a free talk by sculptor William Ransom on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. via Zoom and Facebook Live.
Ransom will discuss the BMAC exhibit “Keep Up/Hold Up.” In a statement accompanying the exhibit, the artist explains the origins of the title.
“I am measured first by my blackness,” Ransom writes. “Our national story predetermines through the weight of white supremacy and its deliberately established structures how my very existence is perceived. I am simultaneously compelled to keep up (maintain) my blackness and to hold up (check) my blackness.”
Included in the exhibit are sculptures in which the literal tensions in the work - strips of wood held fast by metal clamps - are intended to reflect the artist's experiences as a Black man in the United States.
“If the sculpture were unclamped, the compressed energy would release with force,” BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams writes in her curatorial statement, “suggesting that Black spirit and experience are artificially restricted by dominant society.”
The exhibit also addresses the killings of Black men by police.
“Taser” is for Daunte Wright, age 20, who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer stopped him for an “obstructed view”: the air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.
Philando Castile, age 32, is the subject of “88.” Castile was driving a 1997 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight when he was pulled over for a broken tail light and killed by a St. Anthony, Minn. police officer.
“Token” is for George Floyd, age 42, killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest after a store clerk suspected him of passing counterfeit money.
“History cannot be undone,” Ransom writes in his statement, “but if we examine with clear-eyed focus the truths of history, we can see the ways in which the tensions of today are the direct result of the weight of the past.”
Ransom grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont. He studied sculpture and architecture at Bennington College and received an M.F.A. in sculpture from Claremont Graduate University. His work has been included in exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, among others.
He has had solo exhibitions at Chime and Co., the Lenzner Family Art Gallery at Pitzer College, John Davis Gallery, and the Staniar Gallery at Washington and Lee University.
After a decade in Los Angeles, Ransom returned with his family to Vermont, where he works as an artist and educator. He is a visiting faculty member at Bennington College for the fall 2021 semester and a lecturer in the studio art department at Dartmouth College.
“William Ransom: Keep Up/Hold Up” is on view at BMAC through March 5, 2022.