Monthly Archives: March 2013

Flowers for Lucy Stone

Lucy StoneThe Boston Women’s Monument is a triad of bronze sculptures by Meredith Bergmann, representing Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams, and Phyllis Wheatley. The monument was roundly panned by Boston art critics when it was installed. There are many awkward things about the group, certainly (for instance, why does Abigail Adams lurk behind an obelisk that reminds me of 2001?) but even on the gray March day in my photograph, there were visitors. Dressed in raincoats and bundled against the chill, they posed with the sculptures–really posed with them, since Lucy, Abigail and Phyllis are at ground level. Someone else–earlier in the day or perhaps the day before–had left a bouquet of orange chrysanthemums in Lucy Stone’s hand. Representational sculpture serves an ancient need, to present us with a real person, and that elicits a physical, visceral response.

Janet Kawada at St Botolph

"Peek" felt, photograph, screening, by Janet Kawada “Why string? Why wrapping? What is it that draws me to this? Having time on your hands with nothing to do. How often do we hear that phrase? What does it mean? Can we contemplate without feeling that we are empty?”
– Janet Kawada

Fiber sculptor Janet Kawada has a new show at Boston’s St. Botolph Club conservatory. Her approach to fabric construction is layered, repetitive, and represents a particular moment in time with an accretion of kaleidoscopic textures that becomes a documentation of consciousness. A professor at Mass. College of Art, Ms. Kawada was a longtime member and past director of Boston’s Kingston Gallery.

The St. Botolph Club was founded in 1880 and named after the seventh-century English abbot whose monastery was in the fens of East Anglia Botolph’s Town (later corrupted to Boston). Early members included John Singer Sargent,  Daniel Chester French, and architect H.H. Richardson.
199 Commonwealth Avenue, at the statue of Samuel Eliot Morison, through April 15th.
Photograph: “Peek,” wool, fibers, photograph, screening.

Morison in Heavy Weather

JenksPenelope Jencks’s portrait of Harvard professor and naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison looked particularly apt in the March 7 Nor’easter. Perched on a surfside boulder with binoculars in hand, the sculpture’s bronze Mackintosh shone with water, and snow gathered on its cap. A surprise bonus was the damp tidepool surrounding the base, in which sea-rounded rocks and bronze crabs, barnacles, and seaweed seemed to slither in wet and sandy-looking concrete.

Jill Slosburg-Ackerman in Worcester

Jill Slosburg-AckermanAn attempt to reconcile the representational world of Roman classical sculpture with the rigorous structure and abstract focus of the modernist tradition characterizes Jill Slosburg-Ackerman’s new work.

Professor of sculpture and 3D design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Slosburg-Ackerman was recently granted a residency at the American Academy in Rome. Having spent seven weeks in a studio designed for dancers, drawing at a small table in front of a wall of mirrors, Slosburg-Ackerman joked “I had never seen myself draw before.” The necessity of using lightweight materials she could transport back and forth to Boston, combined with the light-filled openness of the Rome studio, focused and distilled her process. Rather than labor on a single, abstract, perfected drawing, as was her wont, Slosburg-Ackerman made hundreds of more spontaneous, small-scale drawings of  both representational and abstract patterns derived from the pine cones and mosaic tile patterns that carpet Roman floors and pathways.

This tension between interior and exterior, frame and picture, two dimensions and three, is at the heart of “In Rome: The Pine Grove. And. Natura naturals; natura natura” now at the Worcester Art Museum. Says Slosburg-Ackerman: “Just as conjunctions separate linguistic elements within a single sentence, I seek to join disparate and often opposing objects in order to create harmonic sculptural works. Some of the subjects that interest me are the contrast of nature and artifice, the relationship of handmade things and manufactured products, and the tension between sculpture and design.”

“In Rome” is on view until March 31 at the Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Mass.