WCMA Announces 'Construct Your Own Meaning' Summer Series

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams College Museum of Art will present "Construct Your Own Meaning," a series of summer programs that invites the community to interpret WCMA's permanent collection installation Remixing the Hall from their unique perspectives.

Borrowing a term from DJ culture, "Remixing" describes WCMA curators' process of selecting objects from the collection that highlight multivalent correspondences between form and meaning in art.

"By giving a diverse set of people outside the museum the agency and platform to share their personal connections to artwork in our collection, we are broadening who the museum is for," said Roz Crews, WCMA's Associate Curator of Programs. "This series asks audiences to see relationships between disparate objects and experiences, interweaving the present and the past."

Each event will be two hours on Thursdays throughout the summer: a 5 to 6 p.m. presentation and a 6 to 7 p.m. reception with celebratory food and drinks.

The series kicked off on July 6 with a program featuring beer inspired by artwork from WCMA's Remixing the Hall exhibition. Artist and seasoned beer industry expert Eric Steen has invited Bright Ideas Brewing (North Adams, Mass.), Hot Plate Brewing (Pittsfield, Mass.), and Rare Form Brewing (Troy, N.Y.) to interact with the art collection, dialogue with museum staff about the collection, select one or more artworks for inspiration, and brew new beers. During the public event, Steen will give an abbreviated artist talk and open up the conversation with the participating brewers before a reception where the new art-inspired beers will be served to visitors with special glassware.

The series continues July 20 with musicians taking center stage. In collaboration with museum staff, Andrea Belair (Co-Owner of Belltower Records, North Adams, Mass.) has curated a set of musicians from a range of musical backgrounds who will each compose five- to 10-minute pieces inspired by an artwork in Remixing the Hall. Featured musicians include: Mirabel Thompson Boyer (Williamstown, Mass.), Wednesday Knudsen (Austerlitz, N.Y.), Lemuel Marc (Boston), Father Hotep (Hadley, Mass.), Luis Granda (Williamstown, Mass.), and Carlos / REC – Humble Monarch Media (Amherst, Mass.). Together the musicians will make a collective concert for the audience as they guide visitors through the exhibition. A DJ reception featuring a playlist inspired by the exhibition shared by Taraka Larson (Wassaic, N.Y.) will follow from 6 to 7 p.m.

On August 3, a group of youths from the community will present a public tour of Remixing the Hall. Leading up to Aug. 3, WCMA will host a week-long intensive fellowship for these youths, who will get a behind the scenes look at the museum's collection, hear about different careers in the arts, and learn various methods for interpreting artwork. At the end of the program, the fellows will give a collaborative guided tour of Remixing the Hall designed for kids and adults from their communities. Opening remarks from the fellows and tour from 5 to 6 p.m, reception featuring foods selected by the fellows in collaboration with Anne Kennedy from 6 to 7 p.m. 

The series concludes on Aug. 17 with bakers showcasing their cakes, designed and produced to interpret an artwork in Remixing the Hall. Featured artists include Edward Cabral (New York City), Cakes For No Occasion (New York City), Magnet (New York City), and Alli Gelles of cakes4sport (New York City). From 5 to 6 p.m., the cake artists will share about their selection and creation process alongside their creations and the artworks that inspired the cakes. From 6 to 7 p.m., there will be a reception to taste the cakes alongside iced coffee and tea.

For more information, contact the museum at 413-597-2429 or visit artmuseum.williams.edu.

WCMA is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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GET LOUD: A Celebration of Banned Books

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Williamstown League of Women Voters in collaboration with the David and Joyce Milne Public Library and the Friends of the Milne Library are presenting Get Loud: A Celebration of Banned Books.
A group of nine authors, performers, teachers, and local individuals will read aloud selections from books currently or previously banned in US libraries and schools. Introducing them will be authors Karen Shepard and Jim Shepard, both on the English faculty of Williams College.
This performance was initiated by the Williamstown League of Women Voters with the goal of bringing together organizations and individuals with a strong interest in the importance of free speech and artistic freedom. 
The event is intended to raise awareness of the history and practice of government censorship, and to give the community an opportunity to experience firsthand the power and joy of good writing.
"One of our goals is to dramatize the importance of the books that have come under attack historically and also recently in some schools and public libraries," said League representative Jane Nicholls. "We hope bringing together an impressive group of artists will help remind us all that the freedom to write and to read is crucial to all other freedoms."
Participants selected their readings from a list supplied by Milne Library Director Pat MacLeod, which cataloged books being  banned from some school libraries and reading lists. The selections include passages from "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "Bridge to Terabitha" by Katherine Paterson, "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko, "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, and "Dear Martin" by Nic Stone.
Mt. Greylock Regional High School teacher Rebecca Tucker-Smith will read from "The Color Purple," and also recite excerpts from her students’ responses to the book.
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