New England Quilt Museum steps up

Yesterday, Rob and I went to see my exhibit, Liberty and Justice: The Satirical Art of Salley Mavor at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. When the show was abruptly cancelled at another venue due to its political content, they swooped in to save the day! Since delivering the artwork a few weeks ago, this was the first chance we’ve had to go back and see how it all looks. I can tell you that their curator Pam Weeks (pictured in foreground) did a beautiful job arranging everything in the two galleries. One gallery contains a selection of framed photographs from the Wee Folk Players series, a monitor showing the 14 minute animated film on a loop and a display case full of the real dolls, props and scenery from the film.

NEQMdisplaycaseAcross the hall is a gallery showing my earlier bas-relief embroideries from what I call “The Innocent Years”, which includes a number of original children’s book illustrations.

Hush-a-bye-baby 2010

While we were there, we happened to meet members of a Boston area museum club, who came specifically to see my show, which they heard about on the news.

The group was enthusiastic about both my political satire and earlier work, which they were not familiar with. One of them remarked that she especially liked the history lesson with authoritarian leaders at the end of the Liberty and Justice movie. I found her comment interesting, since that is the scene that has created the most fuss. I think it helps that the museum has presented my work in context, with signage explaining each part. Museum director, Nora Burchfield  told me that they have received no complaints about the exhibit. On the contrary, several visitors have made extra donations as a gesture of appreciation to the museum for having the bravery to show my new work.

In the photo below, I’ve just pointed out how the nursing mother in “The Red Chair”, until recently, was my most edgy piece.

The Red Chair 1994

The exhibit is up until Dec. 30, 2018, so I encourage you to make the trip to Lowell if you can. I know that some of you from far away have mentioned that you plan to go when you’re in the Boston area for work or family visits this fall. Next year, the exhibit will travel to the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit, Massachusetts, March 2 – April 20, 2019.

The doll house I used as a set for the Wee Folk Players series is in the hallway between the two galleries. When I made the house 40 years ago, I remember noticing how the project consumed me night and day, which was in contrast to other people my age, who were focused on finding a mate.  Above it hangs my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion.

The exhibit occupies 2 galleries and a hallway in between and includes the following:

  • 12 enlarged photographs from the Wee Folk Players series of satirical cartoons
  • 14 minute stop-motion animated film, Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free
  • Display of 3-dimensional characters, props and scenery from the animated film
  • Doll house which was used as a set for the Wee Folk Players series
  • Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion
  • A collection of earlier work from ‘the innocent years”, including children’s book illustrations

Liberty and Justice: The Satirical Art of Salley Mavor
New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA
Sept. 26 – Dec. 30, 2018

Artist Talk – “Sweet to Satirical”, Sat., Nov. 17 at 1:00 PM
Salley Mavor will talk about her evolution as an artist, from portraying a safe and idyllic existence to tackling real world political issues. Using examples of work from the recent past to the present, she will show her transition from sweet to satirical. This is an opportunity to take a behind the scenes peek at her creative process as she develops dolls, props and scenery for her Wee Folk Players theater troupe and stop-motion animation project, Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free. Ms. Mavor will discuss the response to her political work, its effect on her future artistic endeavors and she will address the censorship issues surrounding her exhibit.

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13 thoughts on “New England Quilt Museum steps up

  1. Thank you, for allowing me a peek from Maine, into the show. The two pieces of yours which I absolutely love, are the Red Chair, and your self-portrait. Two themes which fascinate me, motherhood and biography. Hang on to your needle!! Best, mary

  2. What a wonderful and thoughtful exhibit .
    Speaking up in a civil manner is so important these days.
    Thank you for using your skills as an artist to do so.
    The time was well spent.
    Carolyn

  3. Dissent is patriotic! I read about your controversy and had to go see the show. So well done and thoughtful. You go, girl!!

  4. It’s very exciting to watch you use your artwork for progressive activism, and to stick to your beliefs in spite of blow back. I was looking at the Zeitz MOCAA Instagram feed today (zeitzmocaa) and thought of you. It’s a post about the Shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival. I wish you could be a part of it. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of South African singer/musician Johnny Clegg. He trained as an anthropologist and a musician, but ended up devoting himself to a career in music. He used his interest in anthropology to shape his music which then helped influence South Africans to change the political landscape in South Africa. You can watch him discuss his opinions on combining activism and art in a YouTube video produced by Higher Education Today (search for it). A good sampling of his music is a concert he did in Paris at the Zenith theater. And on another note, I hope the image of a nursing mother becomes the norm, and no longer shocking after all the millennia women have been nursing their babies.

  5. Salley I am so happy to see your show open in Lowell. What a loss for your hometown and all your fans in Falmouth but at least we can look forward to the Cotuit Art Center in March. Until the Highfield brouhaha I thought we were an openminded community but apparently that was naïve of me – I hope we all learn from this. I can’t wait to see your patriotic show in March! Mary Pat MacKenzie

  6. I love how comfortable you look at the exhibition. The visitors seem engaged and adoring. Love it. So sorry I don’t live closer. Your work is amazing and so very thought provoking. In some instances it’s like looking in a mirror 😮 Thank you for your amazing stitch creations!

  7. Glad your work is in a place where it can be appreciated. Hope you got to see Susan Carlson’s work while you were there. Quite a contrast in scale, especially the wall-size crocodile.

  8. I was pleased I was able to see your show on a trip to the east coast. In addition to the film (which my husband and I truly enjoyed), it was wonderful to see your original works. Those tiny stitches look perfect. I hope you continue your political art forays.

  9. We did see and enjoy your work Salley, Susan’s work as well. Beautiful detail in all the exibits. We were a bunch of quilters who came from Australia.☺

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