Out of the Ashes

This week I spent most of my time installing a new exhibition [Fantasy Trains] at Mattatuck Museum in nearby Waterbury CT. In the midst of an effort like this, there typically is a point where you think how can we possibly get this thing finished for the opening date whatever that might be. Unexpected problems and issues arise and somehow out of the ashes we arrive at a greater work of art seen as the combination of space, object and Placement/arrangement. We call that the installation ie exhibit.

All exhibits are not created equal. The individual factors tilt the purpose and feel of any given exhibition. The same work and space in the hands of another curator will have a completely different feel and sensibility.

Post completion of this installation three things strike me. The first is every installation begins as a chaotic assemblage of elements and factors that on their own try to give their message and clues on how they want to be seen and understood. Listening, feeling and letting circumstance redirect the process allows these elements and factors to speak. It is my view that they already know what this greater work of art intends to be and it is up to me to somehow allow it to be, cooperate and stay out of the way.

Secondly, every space/environment emits it’s own pneuma or breath/spirit that needs to be respected and facilitated in order for there to be a compelling merging of object, space and purpose. Each element and factor speaks  either in support or discord with each other. I have always believed that if my effort to listen and feel leads me in a non-optimal direction then circumstance will step in to force me down the road that will bring me to the place all involved desire to go. This has been my experience at least over the years and I have learned to trust it.

Thirdly, in involving yourself in things you are compelled to do, we tend to minimize the possibilities that might evolve out of it. Serendipity and happenstance has always come into play in these things and looking back after the fact has always brought a magical amazement of chance happenings and occurrences that have at times been life changing. When I speak to groups about this I always try to somehow convey that one small seeming insignificant decision or prompting can alter your life or lead to a new opportunity. This has been a regular occurrence in my life throughout my career which now spans nearly 40 years.. The fun part of these things is stepping back and just watching the unexpected begin to happen.

All of the information on this exhibit is available on their site or feel free to call the museum with any questions.

Mattatuck Museum


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