Exhibit Displays the Art and History of Furniture
By Nick Mallard
FITCHBURG -- The idea of being a community museum is certainly being put into practice at the Fitchburg Art Museum.
Sunday marked the final day of an exhibition that linked itself directly to the region, taking a look at one of the industries that helped lift area cities and towns into prominence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As “Interior Effects: Furniture in Contemporary Arts” came to an end, the museum offered a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit.
“This project took a look at the region’s rich history of producing furniture,” Terranan Curatorial Fellow Candice Bancheri explained to the museum’s patrons. “It showcases the history of furniture production and what it meant to the communities here, as well as shows how these things are art and can be seen as art.”
Bancheri said the installation was the second the museum has done to put a spotlight on the industrial heritage of North Central Massachusetts and artists working with contemporary techniques to showcase the goods. The first, in 2016, was based on plastics and the next exhibit will focus on paper.
The tour took a dozen or so museum patrons through various rooms, explaining what the artists had in mind with their pieces and how each piece was crafted. Gardner’s Tracie Pouliot, for example, created books on the experiences of workers in the Chair City -- the nickname given to Gardner for its history of chair production.
Other pieces, like those by Liz Shepherd, used furniture as a medium to express psychological themes: her “Untitled (Blue)” featured a dresser sawed in half, with clothes spewing out, which Bancheri said pointed to ideas of displacement, loss and anxiety. Judy Kensley McKie, Bancheri noted, used pieces of her work to show how gender was often infused in furniture, mostly through advertising.