Summer McMullen Show Focuses on `Charged Space'

Summer McMullen Show Focuses on `Charged Space'

By Rosanne Pellegrini
Staff Writer

Four New England artists who make creative use of the visual qualities of residential buildings will be showcased at the McMullen Museum of Art's summer exhibition opening next month.


"House of God," by Bruce Monteith, will be one of 37 objects displayed in the McMullen Museum exhibition "House: Charged Space."
"House: Charged Space," which runs from June 11 through Sept. 16, will comprise 37 objects in different media, including paintings, photography and sculpture. The four artists, Fritz Buehner, Bruce Monteith, Shellburne Thurber and Mark Wethli will appear at a public reception to celebrate the exhibition's opening on June 12 from 7-9 p.m.

"The McMullen Museum of Art is pleased to continue its commitment to showing works of art of leading contemporary artists in New England, and to examining new issues in contemporary art," said Museum Director Nancy Netzer.

Houses are evocative places, explained Alston Conley, the museum's chief curator, recalling for the viewer memories of dwellings from childhood or elsewhere in the past. He notes that the psychologist C.G. Jung often used a multi-storied house as an analogy for the human psyche.

"Because our houses contain powerful associations, they have enormous appeal to visual artists," he said. "This exhibition will explore psychologically and emotionally charged interior and exterior depictions of residential buildings.

"The house contains a variety of spaces, each with its own potential reading. Attics evoke a different response than bedrooms, kitchens, hallways or basements. Each room has separate associations that appeal directly to the viewer's memory and imagination.

"Imbued with associations of 'home,' images of houses invite viewers to explore their own musings, forgotten moments and unconscious leaps. While the interior spaces can have associations with the protected innocence of youth, they can also be confining or on occasion threatening. Likewise, the exterior of a building gives us clues to what it previously contained. Each building contains a history of its inhabitants, an archaeology of memories."

Accordingly, the exhibition's artists use personal history as part of their approach to the theme of "House." Buehner has sculpted 1950s colonial and tract style houses set in the space of the suburban house lot. Buehner's sculptures, reflecting his suburban Connecticut upbringing as well as the broader suburban developments of the era, reawaken the peacefulness of childhood but also address what he describes as the intrinsic class inequities and environmental violence of the suburban landscape.

In his sculpture, Monteith explores the evocative power of architectural space constructed in miniature. While an inversion in scale is typical in art, the miniature draws intensely on the imaginative powers. The works display the faces of once-grand structures, such as a stately Greek-Revival style building or the roofed Federal-style entry to a white clapboard house.

During the last two decades, Thurber has examined the psychological qualities of space through the medium of photography, a theme she first addressed in a series of images of her late mother's childhood home. She explains that her works revolve around "the uncanny way in which inhabited spaces take on the energy of those who live and work in them."

In Wethli's paintings, light entering through doors and windows defines the interior spaces of New England. The rooms are devoid of figures, but architectural fragments and bits of furniture - an empty chair in a room or a small table in a hall - document a human presence. Although the pictorial descriptions are specific, viewers bring their own associations with houses to Wethli's images, and the combination of memory and observation influences the experience of viewing these works.

For more information, call the Boston College Arts Line at ext.2-8100 or visit the McMullen Museum World Wide Web site.

 

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