Four new exhibitions open at the Hunterdon Art Museum

Marie Watt, Companion species (At what price). Image courtesy of the artist.

New shows explore decolonization, social justice, playful curiosity, the work of member artists

The Hunterdon Art Museum is presenting four new exhibitions from September 26, 2021 to January 9, 2022. An opening reception will be held on Sunday September 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. on the museum terrace (weather permitting) and will include lectures by artists, a hands-on art project, live music, light refreshments and more.

Companion species (at what price): the works of Marie Watt will highlight two textile works assembled from panels of fabrics embroidered during sewing circles. Watt reconstructed these small panels in two monumental tapestries: in 2020, the Companion species (at what price); and, in 2018, the 17-½-foot long Companion Species (Call All My Relationships). Marie Watt (born 1967) is an American artist and citizen of the Seneca of Indians Nation, one of the six tribes of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Watt has carried on a tradition in Indigenous art, in which Indigenous insight is engendered at the exhibition venue.

Regarding her sewing circles, Watt reports that “stories and discussions tend to flow,” to bring people together, and that “each person’s stitch is unique, like a thumbprint. As the threads cross and blend together, I see them as a metaphor for how we’re all related. There will be a Watt sewing circle on the occasion of this HAM exhibition project. It will take place on December 8 at the Marc Straus Gallery in New York.

Marie Watt, Companion Species (Calling all my connections). Image courtesy of the artist.

Indeed, at the center of this exhibition are the various textile works of Watt. The selection presented highlights what she calls “Iroquois protofeminism and indigenous teaching”. These include at least two overlapping topics: recognition of indigenous matriarchies (several centuries prior to modern feminism, hence Watt’s use of the prefix proto); and the recognition of indigenous ecological traditions of a deep interconnection between people and the Earth.

Watt uses language as a way to talk about these topics. For example, she beaded the words “proto” three times in the center of Companion species (Saddle), another work presented in the exhibition; and she embroidered the words “mother, mother” the entire length of Companion species (at what price). Such language can address the authority of clan mothers in the Seneca tradition.

Many of his words can also suggest the importance of interconnection and kinship. Indeed, the terms of kinship populate the monumental Companion Species (Call All My Relationships). The very words “companion species”, which headlined this exhibition and the source of many works of art titles, also suggest that the connections extend beyond humans: interspecific relationality. Watt reminds us that “in my tribe, we consider animals to be our first masters”.

We have to fight against an advanced form of interconnection with each other, plants, animals, etc., and the Earth.

This exhibition further features textual wall prompts composed in collaboration with Watt that invite the viewer to consider certain ideas of decolonization brought by his works of art and also by his community engagement practices. After Watt and the curator collaborated on these prompts, a freelance designer schematized the font and colors of the wall text to subtly play with and against – to seek to confuse – the museum’s display conventions. In both form and substance, this particular text works towards the decolonization of this institutional space.

Alisha Wormsley: Remnants of Advanced Technology will focus on Wormsley’s well-known work with black futurism, a genre that reinvents black life with futuristic flair. The show incorporates images from Wormsley’s established work, Children of NAN, which can best be described as an archive of objects, photos, video footage, films, sounds, philosophies, myths, rituals, and performances that she has been compiling for over a decade to document how whose black women take care of themselves, each other and the earth.

This exhibition features a new multimedia installation by Wormsley, comprising dozens of new works from 2021 shown for the first time.

Doug Herren: Shapes-colors / Ceramic structures presents the whimsical and vibrant pieces by Philadelphia-based artist Doug Herren, whose sculptures appear to be made up of common objects like building blocks, pipes and fittings, but in unexpected and original combinations.

According to Herren, his work explores the invocation of ship references in large-scale forms reminiscent of abandoned industrial tools, in gaudy colors. He uses clay in the manufacture of stands and tables, and pottery shapes tinkered with from lathe-turned and hand-crafted components.

“I aspire to achieve in my work the marriage of the prosaic but intimate qualities of functional pottery with the more assertive power of industrial tools, both relegated to an age more closely linked to human work and effort”, explains Herren. . “It is less about describing a sense of loss than about invoking wonder and curiosity in the work I am producing now.”

Members’ exhibition 2021

The Hunterdon Art Museum features the members of this annual juryed exhibition which features artists working in a variety of mediums including clay sculpture, photography, glass, fiber, oil, acrylic and collage.

This year’s members’ exhibit features Amy Becker; Zenna Broomer; Patricia Cudd; Yaël Eisner; Meeta Garg; Valérie Huhn; Betty Jacobsen; Julia Justo; Rebecca Kelly; Myungwon Kim; Karen Krieger; Lisa Madson; Patricia Malarcher; Liz Mitchell; Michelle Moody; Florence Moonan; Patricia Feeney Murrell; Barbara Schulman; Teresa Shields; Barbara Straussberg; and Laura Trisiano.

This year’s juror is curator, writer and archivist Kristen J. Owens, who evaluated more than 90 nominations submitted by museum members and selected 21 works for this exhibition.

General informations:

The Hunterdon Art Museum is located at 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton, NJ 08809. Galleries are open 11 am to 5 pm Thursday through Sunday. Tickets cost seven dollars for adults, five dollars for seniors / military / students, and free for children under 12.

Exhibition credits:

The programs are made possible in part by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; New Jersey Arts and Culture Revival Fund; Hunterdon County Board of County Commissioners, through funds administered by the Cultural & Heritage Commission; Hyde and Watson Foundation; Investor Foundation; La Grande Fondation, as well as other companies, foundations and individuals.

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