Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art

February 8–September 6, 2020

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Maria Molteni, Bough House / Bauhaus, 2019–2020, mixed media installation, 10’ x 10’ x 30’. Photo credit: Charles Sternaimolo.

The group exhibition After Spiritualism offers an occasion to reflect on personal and shared losses through varied contemporary art practices. The works on view materialize trauma and mourning, at times confronting historical conflicts and seeking to overcome long-standing divisions. The exhibition is inspired by Spiritualism’s aim to connect the living with the dead for comfort, guidance, and enlightenment.

Spiritualism is a science, religion, and philosophy that developed in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and grew in popularity through the early twentieth century. The movement was initially defined by its aspirations for reform, as it advocated for women’s rights and suffrage, abolitionism, and democratic access to a spiritual realm. Spiritualism spread nationally and internationally. It has a rich history in New England, parts of which will be explored in a section of ephemera and artworks in the Learning Lounge that will accompany the exhibition. Espiritismo (which, while distinct from Spiritualism, shares some common features, including ties to reform and spirit communication) will also be explored through the work of some artists.

While only a few of the participating artists practice Spiritualism or Espiritismo, they all explore broader, interconnected themes such as the impact of history on the present, transgression and agency through ritual, and the experience and residue of loss.

Organized by Curator Lisa Crossman with Terrana Curatorial Fellow Marjorie Rawle. 

Participating artists:
Laylah Ali, Imna Arroyo, Julie K. Gray, Candice Ivy, Brian Knep, Anne Lilly, Rose Marasco, Antonio Martorell, Maria Molteni (with Lacey Prpić Hedtke), Keith Morris Washington, Rhonda Ratray, Allison Maria Rodriguez, Juan Sánchez, and Kim Weston.

Related exhibitions:

Visionary New England
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

April 24–September 13, 2020
Learn more

Recruiting for Utopia: Print and the Imagination
Fruitlands Museum
April 18, 2020–March 21, 2021
Learn more

This cultural collaboration across three Greater Boston arts institutions will offer visitors a range of art and public programming exploring issues of utopianism and spiritualism, past and present. More information will follow.

To view the press release, click here.
Para el comunicado de prensa en español, haga clic aquí.

Allison Maria Rodriguez, In the Presence of Absence – José María & Ike (video still), 2017–2020, multi-channel video installation. Courtesy of the artist.

After Spiritualism installation view. Photo credit: Charles Sternaimolo. On floor: Brian Knep, Deep Wounds, 2019, interactive video installation, tile formations 7’ x 9’ each. On wall, left: Keith Morris Washington, Matthew Shepard: Housing Development Tract, Former Ranch; Laramie, Wyoming, 2013, oil and acrylic on linen, 60” x 132” x 2 ¾”. On wall, right: Keith Morris Washington, Milenko Majstorovic: Hyannis Ponds Wildlife Management Area; Barnstable, Massachusetts, 2007, oil and acrylic on linen, 84” x 108” x 2 ¾”.

Julie K. Gray, Postmortem: Margaret (detail), 2019, appliqué and needlepoint on C-print, 30” x 40”. Courtesy of the artist. 


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Saturday–Sunday 11am–5pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday
1st Thursday of the month 12pm–7pm 


Fitchburg Art Museum
185 Elm Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Phone 978.345.4207


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