BCHS to Present Exhibit at Lichtenstein Center for the Arts
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire County Historical Society will present an exhibition of works by contemporary artists Jim Jasper and Christopher Volpe, beginning August 5.
The exhibit explores several themes, including the effect of industrialization on the natural world, ethnic stereotypes, queerness and disability. The exhibition runs through August 26 and is being presented at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in downtown Pittsfield.
"Moby-Dick remains a classic novel because its themes are universal and inspiring," said BCHS Executive Director Lesley Herzberg. "This exhibition allows the public to see the novel through the eyes of two contemporary visual artists whose work explores some of the same themes, each in their own way."
Exhibition Curator Erin Hunt worked with Jasper and Volpe to choose works from two of the artists' large series of works. Jasper’s Moby Dick is a single work comprised of 140 drawings meant to be shown together with each representing a single chapter from Melville’s novel.
Some drawings, such as The Affidavit and The Chart, use imagery from whaling captains’ logbooks and sailors’ journals. It is based on Owen Chase’s drawing of the Essex after it was rammed by a sperm whale. Going Abroad references the stereotypical descriptions of ethnically diverse sailors on the Pequod and other whaling ships of the time. Jasper’s drawing flips the perspective by focusing on the act of viewing as opposed to who is being viewed.
In addition to works from Volpe’s Loomings series of paintings that combine tar, oil paint and occasionally gold leaf, the artist has created new works for the exhibition. The title of Volpe’s Loomings paintings quote or reference Moby-Dick and represents the novel’s apocalyptic vision of the American quest.
"From feature films to Far Side cartoons, there is no lack of visual representations of Melville's enduring novel," said exhibition curator Erin Hunt. "Jasper’s and Volpe’s powerful explorations of the story of the great white whale add unique perspectives to the existing canon of interpretations, and I’m excited to be able to bring their work together here in Pittsfield."
The exhibition and related events are sponsored by Berkshire Bank.
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