Mediumship and Painting: Josephine Halvorson and Erin Yerby in Conversation on Zoom

December 2, 2020

deCordova Live with Josephine Halvorson and Erin Yerby.

Josephine Halvorson (American, b. 1981), Permit, 2017, oil on linen, 21 x 23 inches, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photographer: Clements Photography and Design, Boston.

Join artist Josephine Halvorson and scholar Erin Yerby for a virtual discussion on painting, Spiritualism, communion, transmission, and boundaries. Focusing on Halvorson’s paintings created in Western MA, they will draw connections to Spiritualist techniques of mediumship, the relationship between place and belonging, and how foregrounding attention opens up onto unexpected visionary experiences. Halvorson’s work is on view in deCordova’s exhibition Visionary New England. Yerby’s study of Spiritualism is based on years of fieldwork and archival study conducted in Spiritualist Churches, home circles, training courses, and in mediumship centers across the Northeast and New York.

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.