The Northampton Arts Council is a city board and a non-profit organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Time and transformation: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Sally Mann, Yard Eggs, 1991, silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in., Purchase with funds from Barbara Johnson Parnass (Class of 1948) and David Nalle in memory of Jane Oliver Nalle (Class of 1948)
© Sally Mann, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Editor's note: Electronic images available on request

Works by Arnaldo Pomodoro, Julie Mehretu, Kiki Smith, Sally Mann on view in an exhibition and collection spotlight at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum this fall.

Energies and Elegies
Through December 2

Nothing is constant except change-that's one message central to these 20 contemporary photographs, prints, and sculptures from the Museum's collection. They also evoke the basic physics concept that energy can't be created or destroyed, only transformed from one state to another.

Themes of "absence and abundance, entropy and energy" run like a narrative thread through the objects in the show, according to its curator, Hannah Blunt.

"Many of the works have an elegiac quality to them," she said. "You get a sense of the power of objects that are in transition or that represent death or loss." Kiki Smith's print of a dead falcon and a photograph by Rosamond Purcell of a charred copy of Dante's Inferno both capture that feeling of metamorphosis. A suite of lively prints by Julie Mehretu provides a counterpoint. Her energetic Landscape Allegories capture the mercurial energy of natural forces.

Tying these themes together are images that are both visually precise and open to interpretation. A Jerome Liebling photo shows Emily Dickinson's white dress both solidly present in its glass display case and mysteriously transparent in parts. A Sally Mann photograph of her daughter holding a straw hat full of fresh eggs evokes both the innocence of youth and a ghostly quality reminiscent of nineteenth-century "spirit photographs."

Whether the works depict stillness or dynamic movement, this compact exhibition fairly hums with the energy of life's moments of transformation, when everything old becomes new again.

Related event: Assistant Curator Hannah Blunt will give an Art à La Carte Gallery Talk about the exhibition at 12:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 in the Museum.

Collection Spotlight: Arnaldo Pomodoro's Disco con sfera
September 3-December 20

Visitors to the Museum's lobby will be greeted by a recent gift from 1958 Mount Holyoke alumna Linda Taft Litton, Arnaldo Pomodoro's Disco con sfera (Disk with Sphere).

Known for his imposing bronze sculptures in public sites such as Vatican City in Rome and the United Nations Plaza in New York, Pomodoro lives and works in Milan. His work imparts a sense of time's passage, of decay and regeneration. This 1986 work mixes allusions to ancient civilizations, modern industry, deep space, and the natural and manmade scars on our own planet.

A massive meteorite from Mount Holyoke's Skinner Museum creates a captivating juxtaposition with Pomodoro's work. This object hails from the asteroid belt beyond Mars, though it acquired its sculptural form during its fiery entrance into Earth's atmosphere.


Other events at the Museum:  Assistant Curator of Education, Kendra Weisbin, and Assistant Curator of Visual and Material Culture Aaron Miller will give an Art à La Carte Gallery Talk, "Innovation and Interaction: Ceramics from China and the Islamic World" at 12:20 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 1 in the Museum.


The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is free, open to the public, and fully accessible.

Visit mtholyoke.edu/artmuseum for more information.

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