Three exhibitions to open at the Hunterdon Art Museum

Thea Clark, Meminero, 2019, Seashell, charcoal, pine rosin, silver, beads, acrylic, epoxy resin, paper and ink, thread, 4.5″ x 1.25″ x 1.25″; Photo: Terry Greene Photography

Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Making Strides, 2010, Stoneware, slip and glaze. Photo credit: Michael Cavanaugh and Kevin Montague

Works on View Explore contemporary issues including climate change, socio-political frictions, burdens of 21st century society

The Hunterdon Art Museum is pleased to present three new exhibitions which will open on January 23, 2022. The exhibitions include works by artists Thea Clark, Malcolm Mobutu Smith and Nanette Carter

Thea Clark: do/cancel features Thea Clark’s earliest and latest jewelry work spanning a ten-year period on the theme of the conflict between nature and the built environment due to accelerating climate change.

Early work began after Clark, a former NJ resident, experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy. These two catastrophic weather events in a short period of time left an indelible emotional impact, while the time spent volunteering on Staten Island after Sandy led to powerful scenes of destruction being absorbed.

Clark has been concerned with environmental issues his entire life. Her pendants, brooches and necklaces incorporate household and found objects that often reflect her concerns. Isobar boards, anthracite coal, acoustic tiles and asphalt shingles are some of the materials she has incorporated into the jewelry on display at the Museum.

“I am drawn to materials that evoke a place or a resonance, such as clothing or home textiles, which serve as surrogates for people. Thanks to our actions, found objects are converted into useful objects. When they are thrown away, they have lost all meaning. We remove their uselessness by recognizing their potential when found or discovered. The artifacts found take on new meaning when examined in more detail. Our connection to the planet can be described as ‘Do/Undo’,” says Clark.

She reflects and speculates on the disharmony in relation to the balance between the natural world, humanity and the built environment. In order to personalize the global predicament, she creates art. Thea believes that people must first feel before they can act, and she hopes her art will inspire others to do the same.

Malcolm Mobutu Smith: Always more never moreincludes ceramic works inspired by the concerns, fears and uncertainties of ongoing socio-political frictions. It’s the continuation of a series that began over a decade ago with the inauguration of our nation’s first black president. According to Smith, this accomplishment lifted the thin veil that hid the throbbing and bubbling hatred across our country.

Nanette Carter, Cantilevered #26, 2016, 18″ x 17″, Oil on Mylar, Courtesy of Berry Campbell Gallery, New York

“’Evermore Nevermore’ offers deadpan and sardonic totems as reflections from a past filled with festering hatred to a confused and unrepentant present. Sometimes the work presents a sarcastic specter that hands us despicable representations, like a visual version of nails on a blackboard. Yet, strangely, they can also act as hopeful monuments sparking ideas for change, rather than the not-so-forgotten ugliness still bubbling in the psyche of our culture and its people,” Smith explains.

In this exhibition, “Making Strides”, a two-sided stoneware piece, addresses the two-sided reflection on Western society’s respect and contempt for black people. It appears to be a modern art abstraction based on an African ship from an angle. The other side of this coin reveals the character Little Eight Ball, a 1940s comic book character who is the dehumanized black child meant to be comic relief.

The Roxey Ballet Company and Smith are in the early stages of a potential collaboration, with a live performance inspired by Smith’s work to take place shortly before the show closes in April 2022 on the Museum’s terrace. More information will be available on the Museum’s website as the event takes shape.

“Form Follows Function: The Art of Nanette Carter” features works from two of the artist’s series, “Cantilevered” and “The Weight”. Carter describes herself as a chronicler of our time, taking intangible ideas around contemporary issues and finding a way to present them in an abstract vocabulary of form, line, color and texture.

Carter’s Cantilevered Series adopts an architectural term that refers to horizontal structures supported at only one end. Precariously balanced, they suggest the uncertainty and instability of 21st century lives.

Carter’s series artwork, “The Weight,” pays homage to the mysteries of nature, human nature, and the contemporary burdens we carry in the 21st century.

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