DATMA likes large themes
For 4 years the self-proclaimed “museum with out partitions” (whose identify is an acronym of Design Artwork Know-how MAssachusetts) has introduced large-scale dynamic, formidable and all-encompassing cultural, scientific and socially-oriented exhibitions.
In partnership with cultural and academic establishments, native and not-so-local artists, and plenty of others, DATMA has supplied up really large topics for consideration. In 2019, it was Wind.
In 2020, it was Gentle. Final yr, it was Water.
All three themes have specific significance for New Bedford. To a terrific diploma, wind and water decide the fortune of the fishing fleet and related industries. The town’s motto “lucem diffundo” (Latin for “I diffuse mild”) alludes to the whale oil that saved the lanterns burning greater than a century in the past.
The overarching theme for 2022 and 2023 is Shelter. However the connection to New Bedford might not appear so clear as in earlier years. Once more — large theme. How in regards to the leeward aspect of the fishing vessel? That gold customary hurricane dike? The safehouses alongside the Underground Railroad wherein runaway slaves sought refuge and a brand new life? The communal havens for the homeless, the hungry and the domestically abused? The harbor itself when the bridge is opened to welcome boats looking for any port in a storm when the storm is in pursuit?
Below DATMA’s aegis, a few of these topics are being explored at current. Some could also be subsequent yr; perhaps some by no means. It’s an expansive endeavor however I’ll focus — for now — on just one specific component and that’s the exhibition known as “Sheltered” on the College Artwork Gallery on the Faculty of Visible and Performing Arts, UMass Dartmouth Star Retailer Campus.
It options work by modern girls artists of colour with numerous cultural backgrounds. Curated by Trinidad-born New Bedford painter and collagist Alison Wells, in collaboration with the gallery’s director Viera Levitt, it makes one take into consideration the very idea of shelter in unanticipated methods.
Shelter is without doubt one of the three most primal requirements of life, proper alongside meals and water. However to be “sheltered” implies extra than simply 4 partitions and a roof. It could actually imply to be shielded from the troubles, annoyances, and sordidness of the world.
Curator Wells, who can be an exhibiting artist in “Sheltered,” “famous that she wished to discover the topic by way of the lens of girls artists, significantly from the African Diaspora, in an effort to shed a novel mild on ‘Blackness and Womanhood’ and what which means as a related subject in as we speak’s world.”
Artist L’Merchie Frazier, an internationally acknowledged visible and efficiency artist with work within the Smithsonian and the White Home in addition to many different establishments, requested in her artist’s assertion, “Sheltered from? Sheltered by? Sheltered with? Sheltered for? Sheltered the place?” All vital questions, typically with troublesome solutions.
Frazier introduced a quilted portrait entitled “Ericka Huggins – Liberation Groceries” that includes a lady in a purple jacket and massive hoop earrings holding a brown paper bag from which salad greens and a dozen eggs protrude. On the bag itself is a “Panther Energy” decal.
Activist Huggins was the director of the Black Panthers’ Intercommunal Youth Institute in Oakland, California within the Nineteen Seventies. The picture means that the consolation of group and a dedication to meals safety is a form of shelter as properly.
Photographer Gloretta Barnes presents a collection of photos of extraordinary folks going about their lives in Ghana and Nigeria. A very placing seize is that of two girls, seemingly a mom and daughter, sitting on a bench in entrance of an elaborate mural, maybe depicting tribal affiliation.
In “Matriarch,” the older girl, in a vivid purple headdress, seems to be like a no-nonsense sort, significantly if she thought her younger grownup daughter‘s security or safety is likely to be in danger. Barnes describes herself as “an African girl in America” with cultural connections to the previous and the current. The previous could be a shelter, as may be the current, and with luck, shelter often is the future.
Meclina Priestley is a painter, calligrapher and micrographer who shows a collection of works which she describes as being a mirrored image of “morna,” a eager for connection together with her Cape Verdean roots. Her large-scale washes are displayed alongside a tethered magnifying glass in order that viewers can learn the extremely small script that makes up the shadows, curves and locks of hair that make up her portraits.
Though Priestley has by no means been to Cape Verde, her wistfulness and her nostalgia for one thing she has by no means skilled firsthand is palpable. A detailed examination of the topless girl (her again to the viewer) wil reveal “my soul is longing…” throughout her shoulder. It reads “We’re this second…standing by the ocean New Bedford to Fogo” within the small of her again. Need can present shelter too.
Wells shows two work — “New Bedford Roots” and “Ancestral Procession” — that like a number of of her co-exhibitors counsel that earnest remembrance is a supply of consolation and that consolation is shelter. However her “White Area” is way extra simple. It options thickly-applied free rectangles, in ecru and beige on a barely whiter subject.
It may be seen as a drunken fowl’s eye of a metropolis grid, full with rooftops, intersections and too-close neighbors. Or perhaps, it’s constructing supplies, the very stuff of shelter: white-washed bricks or cinder blocks.
Culling the childhood experiences — Colorforms, paper dolls and placing S&H inexperienced stamps into books — that made her a collagist, Ekua Holmes has essentially the most conventional depiction of shelter within the present. As brightly hued as a cheerful kids’s e-book, she depicts fond recollections of butterflies, flowers, shared home keys, mother and father swinging a tiny daughter between them, a lady leaping rope and a boy driving a motorbike. It’s happiness itself.
The spotlight of the exhibition is Corrine Spencer’s dreamy “Splendor,” a combined media, site-specific set up that comes with hanging translucent material, projected transferring photos and sound. It’s aesthetically and emotionally placing. In it, a lady (the artist herself) frolics within the woods and lies with enjoyment of a gurgling brook.
Spencer notes that her purpose is to put Black girls on the coronary heart of a transcendent expertise and she or he asks viewers of all backgrounds “to hook up with transcendence by way of Blackness, reaching past the borders of their our bodies into the huge universe, as black, radiant and countless as house.”
Transcendence is shelter too.
“Sheltered” is on show on the College Artwork Gallery, 715 Buy St., New Bedford till Sept. 8.