Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art
February 8, 2020–June 7, 2020
Anne Lilly, To Be, 2016, mirror, acrylic, aluminum, stainless, delrin, engineering components, motor, micro controller, chairs. Courtesy of the artist.
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 also spread nationally and internationally, including to Puerto Rico and Cuba. It has a rich history in New England, parts of which will be explored in a historical timeline of ephemera and artworks that will accompany the contemporary exhibition.
While only a few of the participating artists are Spiritualists, 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.
Laylah Ali, Imna Arroyo, Julie Gray, Candice Ivy, Brian Knep, Anne Lilly, Rose Marasco, Maria Molteni (with Lacey Prpić Hedtke), Keith Morris Washington, Rhonda Ratray, Allison Maria Rodriguez, and Kim Weston.
Julie Gray, Postmortem: Margaret (detail), 2019, appliqué and needlepoint on C-print, 30” x 40”. Courtesy of the artist.
Allison Maria Rodriguez, In the Presence of Absence – José María & Ike (video still), 2017–2019, multi-channel video installation. Courtesy of the artist.