Liberty and Justice exhibit in Cotuit

Last September, when my Liberty and Justice exhibit was cancelled at a local venue, due to its political content, 2 arts organizations immediately came to the rescue. The New England Quilt Museum quickly rearranged their exhibition space to accommodate an expanded version of the original concept, which they showed for 3 months last fall. It was their idea to add a section of my earlier work, which my husband Rob labeled “The Innocent Years”. Now, the Cotuit Center for the Arts on Cape Cod is hosting Liberty and Justice: The Sweet to Satirical Art of Salley Mavor until April 20.

To read a review of the show from the Falmouth Enterprise, click here.

The Cotuit Center reports great traffic, with many smiling faces seen on folks coming from the Upper Gallery. They’ve also received applause for their willingness to host the show. A friend told me that she surprised and embarrassed herself by continually laughing out loud, while perusing the exhibit. It’s nice to hear this, because that’s how I imagined the response would be, way back when I first began planning the exhibit. The show has also triggered an emotional release in some viewers, like this woman who wrote to tell me, “I’m uplifted for the first time in three years. I burst into tears last night and realized your art helped me deal with my distress and dismay.”

A friend passed on this comment she received from an acquaintance named Zoe, who went to see the show on her recommendation – “The Mavor exhibit was so perfect and captivating! I’m so interested in the moment where she must have realized that her medium was perfect for what she wanted to say.” She and everyone else can find out on April 13th at 11 AM, when I give my Artist Talk.

For the Cotuit show, I’ve added more framed cartoons and early pieces, and I’ve set up 2 display cases with scenery and props used in the filming of the movie.
The exhibit includes the following:
18 enlarged photographs from the Wee Folk Players series of satirical cartoons (including the doll house set), 13 minute stop-motion animated film – Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free, Displays of 3-dimensional characters, props and scenery from the animated film, A collection of earlier work from “the innocent years” – embroidered bas-relief pieces, children’s book illustrations, Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion , Rabbitat and Birds of Beebe Woods.

Liberty and Justice: The Sweet to Satirical Art of Salley Mavor
Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, Massachusetts
March 2 – April 20, 2019
Artist Talk – “Sweet to Satirical”, Sat., April 13, 2019 at 11:00 AM

The exhibit is an opportunity to see a wide array of works by fiber artist and illustrator, Salley Mavor, who has recently added political satire to her repertoire. She uses small dolls as a metaphor for living in a safe controlled environment that has been taken over by outside political forces. The exhibit features a collection of photographs of scenes she created in a doll house and a stop-motion animated film, which satirize the Trump administration. The original dolls and props used in the film will also be on display. Although Ms. Mavor’s foray into political art is the centerpiece of the show, the exhibition also includes original embroidered children’s book illustrations and other artwork from earlier in her 40-year career. The inclusion of these pieces tracks the evolution of her artistic journey from “innocence” to tackling real world issues.

The exhibit is located upstairs, with the wall facing the balcony dedicated to the sweet section of the show. By far, the favorite in this group is Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion , which a lot of people can relate to.

The politically satirical portion is shown in 2 side spaces. One has the Liberty and Justice film and display cases full of the real dolls, props and scenery used in the film-making process. The other side has the photographic “cartoons” and the doll-house stage set.

For the show, I matted and framed 18 enlarged photographs of the Wee Folk Players cartoons, which were produced in the first 6 months after the election.

Michelle Law, the center’s gallery manager, was incredibly helpful and a delight to work with during the installation.

The doll house, which I made in art school over 40 years ago is also on display. It served as a stage for the Wee Folk Players in many of the scenarios we photographed.

I hope that those of you who live within a manageable distance of Cape Cod can make a trip to see the show, which runs until April 20 at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, Massachusetts. I will give a talk about the evolution of my art from “Sweet to Satirical” on Sat., April 13th at 11 AM.

Next, a portion of this exhibit will be included in The Art of Cute, which takes a serious look at a powerful aesthetic that is often not taken seriously. Some of my topical and political work will be displayed in the Meta Cute or “beyond” cute category. This part of the exhibit explores how cute, combined with other aesthetics, can create meaningful art that is ironic, disturbing, political, joyous humorous and provocative.
Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, Maine
May 1- August 31, 2019
Curated and produced by the Illustration Institute

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14 thoughts on “Liberty and Justice exhibit in Cotuit

  1. Congratulations, Salley!! This will be a great show!! Wishing I could be there, and hoping for a west coast venue someday, Cathryn Kasper Corvallis, OR

    Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Thanks for your support Cathryn. As for sending the show west, I’ll be glad to discuss the idea with an interested venue. With all of the potential for controversy, it’s important that they really want it.

  2. I so admire all your creative art. If you ever have any more posters of “self portrait “ I would like to purchase one for my sewing room. Thanks Salley,

    Sue Goecker

  3. This is fabulous! I love all your work but that satire is so witty!! I am so happy so many venues have stepped up to exhibit your work.

  4. I do wish I lived close enough to come see the exhibit. Your work is fascinating, and I admire your satire.

  5. Wow—it’s time this full exhibit goes down to Washington, DC!

    I think back to when I invited you to speak about your work as an artist and illustrator for children’s books for our Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) conference in Waltham – perhaps back in 2008. At the time, you declined saying you really weren’t a speaker. I think you loved just working in your studio. Look at you now, Salley—



    P.S. Kudos to your husband, for all his amazing work as well. Love the new display cases, especially showcasing ‘Liberty and Justice.’

    • Thanks for checking in Pamela – you’re always so supportive! I still prefer to work in my studio, but this recent work has forced me to discuss what I’m doing and go “on the record” so to speak. I feel like I’m learning about what it means to be a real artist. In addition to the visual element, there’s the story behind it, which is another valid expression. Not every artist can handle both aspects, but I’m finding that I actually enjoy giving presentations.

  6. You are so totally awesome Salley! Your work just blows my mind! I originally fell in love with your acorn-hatted fairies but I never knew your art would evolve to what it’s becoming. You’re so imaginative and talented. Bless you. ❤

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