AFTER SPIRITUALISM: LOSS AND TRANSCENDENCE IN CONTEMPORARY ART


February 8 – September 6, 2020

An interactive installation with a colorful background.

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

Sponsored by generous contributions from Workers Credit Union, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Fitchburg Cultural Council, and the Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Auburn, Ayer, Bolton, Chelmsford, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Shirley, and Shrewsbury.

Workers Credit Union
Mass Cultural Council

Programs:

Messages to the Beyond
To commemorate the close of After Spiritualism, tune in to artist Imna Arroyo’s ceremonial burning of the messages left at her interactive installation, Ancestors of the Passage. Video coming soon to the Fitchburg Art Museum website and social media pages, after the show closes on September 6. Throughout the run of the show, visitors have been encouraged to leave messages, memories, and prayers to those who have gone before them. Arroyo’s ritual burning of the slips of paper releases these intentions and completes their journey from this world to the next. Don’t miss your final chance to participate! Click the button below to submit a message before September 6.
Learn more

Art Matters Video Series 
Watch behind-the-scenes interviews with artists from the current Fitchburg Art Museum exhibition After Spiritualism: Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art. Now live: discussions with Juan Sánchez, Imna Arroyo, and Candice Ivy.
Watch Now

Take a Virtual Tour 
 
Explore highlights of our special exhibition After Spiritualism: Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art on the web.
Explore

Learn the History Behind the Works on View
Experience the After Spiritualism Learning Lounge. Read about the history of Spiritualism and Espiritismo, and see behind the scenes.
Discover

Enjoy Gallery Activities 
Experience art from a new perspective. Explore our gallery activity sheets for After Spiritualism:
• 
View our tips for reflection, connection, and creation. 
Download
• Look and learn with our interactive treasure hunt. How many details can you spot? 
Learn more


Related exhibitions:

Visionary New England
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

October 8–March 14, 2021
Learn more

Recruiting for Utopia: Print and the Imagination
Fruitlands Museum
Mid-Summer–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.

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

A person walking on an interactive installation

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”.

A photo collage of someone in a casket with flowers around them

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

CONTACT

Fitchburg Art Museum
185 Elm Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Phone 978.345.4207
info@fitchburgartmuseum.org

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