Lunchtime Conversation: Senior Curator Sarah Montross on Visionary New England

October 20, 2020

deCordova Live: A Lunchtime Conversation with Sarah Montross

Angela Dufresne

Angela Dufresne, To Learn is to Forget, 2015, oil on canvas, 4 ½ x 9 feet, collection of the artist. Photo by Suzan Alzner.

Senior Curator Sarah Montross will lead a virtual lunchtime conversation on her research into the utopian experiments and spiritualist activities that informed the exhibition Visionary New England. This event on Zoom will provide a tour of the exhibition and reflect on ways in which topics in this exhibition relate to present day issues of social justice, environmentalism, and education.

About Visionary New England (October 8, 2020-March 14, 2021)

Visionary, mystical, and utopian practices are crucial to New England’s culture, history, and character. From the experimental agrarian communities founded in the 1840s, such as Brook Farm and Fruitlands, to the intersections of spiritualism and experimental psychology at the turn of the 20th century, New England has long developed alternative ways of nurturing community, personal growth, and societal reform. Related artists and writers frequently united their intimate connection to nature with a search for access to alternate dimensions or higher powers.

Grounded in this rich history, this exhibition features original commissions and existing artwork by ten contemporary artists who are engaged with these themes. Artists include: Gayleen Aiken, Caleb Charland, Anna Craycroft, Angela Dufresne, Sam Durant, Erin Johnson, Josephine Halvorson, Paul Laffoley, Michael Madore, Candice Lin, Tourmaline, and Kim Weston. Bridging past and present, their work will be shown alongside earlier art and artifacts that speak to these enduring qualities of the region and their relevance today.

Major funding for the exhibition is provided by the Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.