Artist’s Date: Mass MoCA, Space and Yearnings

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Saturday, the woman I love and I went down to North Adams to visit Mass MoCA. 

I go there a few times a year because the exhibits change constantly. It’s never the same collection twice and I find myself constantly inspired. Recently they just added a huge addition, opening up one of the old factory buildings and transforming it in thousands of square feet of exhibition space.

I will be honest. There was not a lot of the current exhibition that sang to me.  There was some good work. Some odd work. Come curious work. But very little that sang to my soul and inspired me. What really sang to me though, was the space itself.

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It began when we entered one of the first rooms. There were three little multimedia works on the wall. They did little for me, but as I stepped away, I saw them in a different light. There were three chairs set out for the devout to look at them at length, and the juxtaposition of the chairs and art, the spacing, space itself, struck me.

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In the next room, one of the huge galleries, there was this installation called “In Bed (how will we sleep when the planet is melting?) by Sarah Braman. The piece itself was for me kinda “meh”, but as I walked around it, and saw it in space, it took on a life of its own.

And so it was the rest of the afternoon, particularly as we came to the new space.

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Space.

I have been missing space. A decade ago I had a huge old farm house, about 4,000 square feet. There were five acres and outbuildings. There was space for anything I might buy or anything I might want to do. All that space was, I have come to realize, and incredible luxury.

Since my divorce, that house had to be sold. I lived in a couple of tiny apartments with a whole lot of furniture crammed in, and finally landed here in Vermont, where I have a nice house, what has been a perfect house for me and the kids the past several years. There’s plenty of room, plenty of light, but not much wall space. It is house on a smaller scale. It’s on two-tenths of an acre of land, which is nice when you travel like I do. Not much to take care of. But also not much to do things with. No sculpture gardens here. No workshops. No storage for strange and odd things that I might pick up. (because I do.)

I have to be economical with my space.

In the last year or two, I have been half-looking for a big space. A barn or large garage, or perhaps a section of an abandoned factory to move my studio into. I don’t know if it is a natural progression of my art, or some inner part of my spirit that feels the need to do bigger things again, create bigger art, impactful things, but I yearn for more space. Nothing fancy. Just space and light. Or even space without light (Lights can be bought, after all.).

And that’s what my artist’s date did. It brought that yearning back. Is that inspiration? In a way I suppose. But inspiration or not, it’s a reminder of what lies underneath this mild, economical facade I carry with me, and that has value. Without yearning. Without dreams, I am nothing. I am dead.

I learned that a long time ago. The hard way.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

 

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