NEW BEDFORD, Mass., July 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A Singularly Marine & Fabulous Produce: the Cultures of Seaweed is now open at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Centered on the monumental painting Seaweed Gatherers by US artist Clement Nye Swift, the exhibit explores the uses and depictions of seaweed in the coastal regions of Northwestern France, Southern England, and Southeastern Massachusetts, where seaweed was and continues to be an important facet of the shoreline economy.
Curated by Naomi Slipp, Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator at the Museum, and Maura Coughlin of Northeastern University, this exhibition probes humankind’s fascination with seaweed from the 1800s to today, tracking changing aesthetics and modes of representation, while underscoring a continuous and unwavering interest in this singularly marine and fabulous produce, as described by Henry David Thoreau.
Drawing together a variety of media spanning French, US, and English examples, objects range from watercolors by significant American artists John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth to decorative arts by Pairpoint, Tiffany, Wedgewood, Thomas J. Wheatley, Limoges, and Georges Hoentschel to amateur-made seaweed albums, collages, and early photographs. This exhibition celebrates marine algaes as a beautiful and highly visual media, and showcases the artistic, scientific, and industrial applications of seaweed.
Loans from over thirty public institutions and private collections include the Boston Athenaeum; Brooklyn Museum; Colby College Museum of Art; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Historic New England; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Mystic Seaport Museum; Newport Historical Society; Portland Museum of Art; the RISD Museum; Tiffany & Co. Archives; Winterthur Museum; Wyeth Foundation Collection; Yale Center for British Art; Yale University Art Gallery; and over a dozen contemporary artists.
A 222-page hardcover catalog includes over 100 color plates and short essays from 12 interdisciplinary scholars on natural history, contemporary and decorative arts, film and photography, and seaweed as a sustainable foodway.
“The project’s programming and catalog make connections between the cultural histories of seaweed as explored in the exhibition and the urgent environmental issues of today related to climate change, aquaculture, and sustainability – where seaweed is at the vanguard,” says Slipp.
The Cultures of Seaweed was made possible by presenting sponsor Bank of America.
“The New Bedford Whaling Museum is a cultural treasure that adds to our understanding of the nation’s life, maritime history and science. The museum preserves a rich history that educates, informs and invites us to think about the environmental issues of today and how to create a more sustainable future,” said Miceal Chamberlain, President, Bank of America Massachusetts.
Additional major support was made possible from the William M. Wood Foundation and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, and support from Susan S. Brenninkmeyer, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Inc., Maine Seaweed Council, The Nature Conservancy, Springtide Seaweed LLC, and Vineyard Wind, and other individual donors.
The exhibit closes on December 3, 2023. More details can be found at https://www.whalingmuseum.org/exhibition/the-cultures-of-seaweed/.
About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum ignites learning through explorations of art, history, science, and culture rooted in the stories of people, the region and an international seaport. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city’s historic downtown. For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.
SOURCE New Bedford Whaling Museum
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