On a tree-covered path on the west side of deCordova’s grounds is a clearing overlooking Flint’s Pond. Here, Cat Mazza chose to install her sculpture Taking the Cure, an open wooden structure that offers both shelter from, and exposure to, the natural elements. The location is integral to the artwork, which was inspired by the architecture of nineteenth-century “cure cottages:” make-shift wooden buildings situated in natural settings designed to heal patients suffering from tuberculosis. By combining historic design elements with contemporary sculpture, Mazza forges a connection between past and present, inviting visitors to engage with the artwork and its environs by simply breathing in fresh air—just as tuberculosis patients would have—to convalesce over anxieties that result from our current social and political climate.
The exterior of Taking the Cure features a wooden L-shape structure that recalls porch or balcony balustrades, while inside, a vertical free-standing construction resembles the cure cottage framework. Protected on three sides, this interior space provides a feeling of safety. While an overhang on the pond-side wall gives the semblance of a roof, the structure is fully exposed to the elements. A breeze can permeate the artwork as it would the branches of a tree. Taking the Cure is made of kiln-dried pine, echoing the humble materials of the original cure cottages, and its weathered grey color also aligns with nineteenth-century New England vernacular architecture. The nearly sixteen -foot square structure is large enough for people to move through it, as well as to sit on the folding stools and relax their bodies and minds.