Concrete, drywall, PVC pipes, wire, milk crates.
You’d fully expect to see these and similar materials at a construction site but not in an art museum. But the Hunterdon Art Museum’s latest exhibition The Art of Construction encourages viewers to see how common building materials can be bent, twisted and shaped to create intriguing works of art.
The exhibition opens Sunday, May 14; a reception and gallery talk that is open to everyone will be held the following Sunday, May 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Lovina Purple is curating this show. The foundation for this exhibition was first laid when, as a youngster growing up in a developing neighborhood, Purple and her sister would wander through unfinished homes, imagining what they would be like when finished.
“My sister grew up to become an architect,” Purple said, “and it was through her – and that architectural eye — that I began to notice and appreciate the raw materials even more for their own aesthetic beauty.” A gift from her sister of found materials from a construction site helped galvanize the idea for The Art of Construction.
To create this show, Purple approached artists whose works she had seen on exhibition or in open studios. She also combed artists’ registries to find the right blend of different, yet similar, materials that would complement HAM’s unique setting. The Museum is housed in a 181-year-old former grist mill.
“I tried to create a connecting thread between works: a similar arc, twist, material or color that makes the whole show have a cohesiveness and its own unique vibe that resonates with the show’s theme,” she said.
Carol Boram-Hays uses metal remains reclaimed from industrial sites and casts them within concrete, and then color their surfaces. These uncanny forms are intended to suggest an animated fusion of the organic and the industrial.
In her piece, What’s the Commodity?, artist Gail Heidel addresses architectural ornament and the balance between historical preservation and gentrification.
“Her work directly speaks to the separatism we usually have from construction sites in the cities, but instead, invites viewers into these sites that she creates,” Purple said. “She likes to involve her audience and bring them a very personal experience that can be taken home and translated into action.”
Also featured in this show are works by Crystal Gregory, Susan Meyer and Michael Watson.
The Museum will conduct three workshops featuring artists from this exhibition:
— Experiments in Mark Making and Block Printing with Susan Meyer on Sunday, July 9.
— Knot-Tying and Dip Dying: Macramé Workshop with Crystal Gregory on Saturday, July 22.
— Hands-On Workshop and Presentation: Community Engagement and Public Art Projects with Gail Heidel on Saturday, Aug. 12.