Five new exhibits open at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center

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BRATTLEBORO >> In tandem with the welcome change of the seasons, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is making changes in all six of its galleries with five new exhibits for spring, opening with a reception on Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m.

Chief curator of the museum Mara Williams is always on the hunt for what's new and exciting and is pleased to be presenting Gathering Threads: Contemporary Fiber Art in the museum's Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery. Williams has seen a huge increase in fiber artists over recent years, many of whom are Vermonters. She noted that fiber plays a vital role in every aspect of our lives, stimulating our sense of touch from the day we are born. By association, fiber art provides a viewing experience that is beyond just looking.

There are 13 artists participating in the Gathering Threads exhibit. Among them is printmaker and sculptor Michele Ratté. She is exhibiting three large pieces that will be hung from steel armatures strategically placed away from the gallery wall to give the museum-goer a three-dimensional view. Her creations include mono-printing gold onto textiles, a method patented by Joan Morris and Ratté. This method permanently adheres gold onto fabric and allows for finer details. In her "Bell Jar" piece she uses 23 kt. gold, hand-loomed silks and linens, shells, beads, stainless steel fishing line. Ratté is also collaborating with Joan Morris in presenting the last of their Animation Series, images drawn from the sea float in gold leaf atop handwoven, hand-dyed silk banners.

Yasmin Tayeby will be showcasing up to a dozen tapestries created by current and former students of Egypt's Ramses Wissa Wassef Centre in its Children of the Oasis exhibit. The centre has been the setting for a tapestry workshop for local children who had neither formal education nor artistic training. They are taught how to weave, but not specific patterns to weave, allowing creativity and imagination to flow for very unique results. The exhibit appears at BMAC in cooperation with Izdahar, a non-profit organization working to foster understanding between America and the Middle East through artistic exchange.

Other artists included in Gathering Threads is Orly Cogan, who stitches vintage magazine ads with images of well-known characters from children's literature; Matthew Cox adorns x-ray film with detailed reproductions of historical military headgear; Daria Dorosh recycles clothing into wall hangings; and the artist duo Ligorano/Reese (Nora Ligorano and Marshal Reese) weave fiber-optic filament into a structure that conveys changing data collected via FitBit, an activity tracking program.

Ceramicist Naomi Lindenfeld segues the exhibit's fiber arts to other mediums in Dialogue: Lindenfeld and Lindenfeld with her ceramic art interpretations of her late mother's work, second-generation Bauhaus textile artist Lore Kadden Lindenfeld. Naomi spent a year exploring and expanding her artistic practice, moving from a lifetime of making functional pottery to creating experimental pottery and pure sculpture inspired by her mother's artwork. Naomi's mom's work on display is paired with Naomi's ceramics version created, in part, by weaving colored clay, and layering clay to created patterns with the Japanese technique Nerikomi. Naomi stated that creating these pieces for the exhibit stretched her creatively into doing things she had never done before and helped her recognize how much inspiration and influence her mother had on her. She said, "The pairings of work in this show exemplify the influences of my mother's work on me and have served as an opportunity to both grow creatively and to honor my mother and her life's work."

Two exhibits opening alongside Gathering Threads. Donald Saaf: Contemporary Folk Tales is a collection of ten paintings. Strongly influenced by folk art and his surroundings, Saaf's brightly colored paintings are a meeting of two worlds, narrative painting and abstract art, weaving aspects of daily life in New England into 21st century tales. According to BMAC's education curator Susan Calabria, "The lyrical shapes and lines that describe Saaf's landscapes, articulate tree branches, and wreathe the heads of people and animals create a mysterious effect reminiscent of quilts or stained glass windows." Saaf said that for him, "Painting is a language for expressing yourself beyond words."

Michael Poster's exhibit entitled Love, Labor, Worship: The People of Basin Farm records the daily life of the residents of the farm in Bellows Falls. The Members of Messianic community called the Twelve Tribes, follow a self-sustaining lifestyle and devote themselves to their Messiah and master, Yahshua. Poster shot the photographs as simple and honest as the people, and though he was not always in agreement with their way of life, he said, "He hoped this project will allow him to be our eyes into their world, and perhaps shed some light on who they are to understand them better," acknowledging that there is often controversy in how they are portrayed in the media. The photographs span his time from the first day of harvesting carrots, through the development of a young man and woman's relationship until their wedding, and a devastating fire. Alongside the exhibit are 13 essays that he felt a need to write about his experiences at the farm.

According to Williams, the purpose of these exhibits is not to sell as in most art galleries, but in sharing the richness of the aesthetic experience of looking at the work of another human being.

The new exhibits remain on view at BMAC through May 3, with the exception of Children of the Oasis and Donald Saaf: Contemporary Folk Tales, which stay up through June 21. During that time, BMAC will present a number of related events, including artist talks by Donald Saaf on March 19, Michael Poster on April 9, and Naomi Lindenfeld on April 19.

The museum is open every day except Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Members and children 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Located in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org.

Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.


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