BRATTLEBORO — New exhibits opening at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center include an exploration of flowers as a way to mark loss, and new work by Jennifer Mack-Watkins that, in the artist’s words, “(uses) aesthetics as a form of resistance against the erasure and invisibility of African American culture.”
Five new exhibits open at the museum today. The other displays consist of a kinetic sculpture installation by Adria Arch, drawings by Kenny Rivero and the biennial GLASSTASTIC exhibit, including a look back at the first 10 years of this popular collaboration between K-6 students and glass artists.
A reception with the artists and curators will take place later in the spring. All five new exhibits will be on view through June 13.
Curated by Mara Williams, “All Flowers Keep the Light” was postponed for nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally focused on artwork that harnesses the symbolic potential of flowers to represent personal loss, the exhibit was expanded to include work commemorating communal and societal ruptures as well. The title is drawn from a line in a Theodore Roethke poem: “Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light.” Featured artists are Miles Chapin, Clare Elliott, Anna Schuleit Haber, Amy Jenkins, Colleen Kiely, Cathy Osman and John Willis, whose multimedia work was created in collaboration with poet Robin Behn and musician Matan Rubinstein.
“Children of the Sun” is Jennifer Mack-Watkins’ first solo museum exhibition. It was inspired in part by “The Brownies’ Book: A Monthly Magazine for the Children of the Sun,” a groundbreaking periodical co-created by W.E.B. Du Bois 100 years ago, featuring stories, art, poetry and images celebrating African American identity. Mack-Watkins’ artwork also incorporates images and narratives from Vermont storyteller, poet, and activist Daisy Turner (1883-1988), a child of formerly enslaved people, and research findings included in the book “Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga” by Jane C. Beck.
“Adria Arch: On Reflection” is an immersive installation of undulating sculptural shapes suspended from the ceiling of the museum’s Mary Sommer Room, inspired by the movement and reflectivity of the Connecticut River as it flows past Brattleboro. The work is accompanied by a sound piece by composer Ken Field.
Kenny Rivero’s “Palm Oil, Rum, Honey, Yellow Flowers” is a collection of drawings with themes that include masculinity, love, depression, sexuality, Afro-Caribbean faith, Anglo-Caribbean sensibilities and Afro-Futurism.
GLASSTASTIC features works of art conceived of and drawn by children from across the country and turned into three-dimensional sculptures by glass artists. This year’s edition of the popular biennial exhibit features 27 glass sculptures, presented alongside the drawings and descriptions that inspired them, as well as a digital gallery of the nearly 800 drawings submitted by students in grades K-6. In celebration of GLASSTASTIC’s 10th anniversary, the exhibit also features a “Blast From the Past” gallery with images from prior years.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with masks and social distancing required. Walk-ins are always welcome, or visitors can make a reservation in advance at brattleboromuseum.org. The museum will be closed from March 7 to 17 to install the new exhibits.
Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. The museum is in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and routes 119 and 142, and is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.