Work by Mara Baldwin
October 12 through November 9, 2018
Reception: Friday, October 12 | 6 - 8 p.m.
Closed for Fall Break October 6 - 9, 2018
The Davis Gallery at Houghton House
What happens when a community's foundational beliefs ultimately lead to their undoing or inability to thrive? A once rapidly growing utopian society, the Shaker's numbers have now dwindled due to a rigid belief system demanding celibacy, autonomy, and skepticism of new members. The Shakers in the present day are left with only two members, their society soon to be survived only by their work, most notably their exquisitely labored furniture and impressive archive of songs. Recent work by Mara Baldwin considers this post-utopian landscape and legacy left behind, and explores the persistence of a disappeared community by examining what remains. This work does not seek to provide a historical recreation or celebration of Shaker traditions specifically, but views their labor and devotion as a departure point for creating large-scale works blurring the lines between collectivity & authorship, mourning & survival, and legacy & change. Baldwin's greater practice explores the liminal space between real and imagined narratives from utopian literature, folk tales, ghost stories, and pulp paperback science fiction. Her drawings, sculptures, and installations pay particular attention to the historical spaces, emotional politics, longings, and labor of women. Through obsessive repetition or laborious rendering, historical & fictional narratives are unraveled to question issues of authenticity, community, and inclusivity.
Image: World Without End, 2017