“ Fortuitous encounters ” at the Musée des Beaux-Arts D’Amour
Showcasing sculptural assemblage art made from found materials, “Chance Encounters: Mixed Media Constructions by Shawn Farley” features new and innovative works by the Massachusetts artist through March 7 at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springdfield.
Farley creates sculptural assemblages that breathe new life into obsolete foundry molds and other found objects. By embracing chance and trusting his acute artistic instincts, the artist constructs intelligent compositions that take on human qualities and adopt their own personalities.
There are 11 works on display in the exhibition proper at the Starr Gallery at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. An additional work by Farley, also on loan from the artist, is on display in the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery in the same building.
Farley’s three-dimensional sculptures range in scale from about 17 inches high to almost 40 inches high, and “each has an incredible presence and personality,” said Maggie C. North, art curator.
Visitors to the exhibition will learn about these sculptures and the stories of their making.
“So the title ‘Chance Encounters’ talks about the experience of viewing the works and Farley’s process of making them, as the artist relies on the random placement of the objects,” North said. “In this way, his creative process is playful and exploratory.”
Although Farley sometimes paints the foundry molds and other found objects that are part of her work, she sometimes leaves them unpainted, allowing their past lives to slip through.
“Many foundry molds still display an identification part number that is reminiscent of their original purpose,” she continued. While some of the works on display are automatic constructions inspired by form and color, others approach the current moment.
The artwork Of Like Minds was inspired by two similar curved foundry molds, but the artwork High Anxiety reflects the artist’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, she noted.
“In order to do assembly / construction work you have to have an infatuation with discarded and found life materials,” said Farley, who searches flea markets and looks for junk dealers who clean up closed machine foundries. and discarded from their wood / mold patterns which are on the way to waste.
The molds found in his assembly work were used to make accessories for the Hoover Dam, ships and other industrial projects. They come from all over the country but mainly from the Midwest and the East where factories were abundant in the 19th and 20th centuries; a few came from a closed sawmill in Shelburne Falls that had used the Deerfield River for electricity since the 19th century.
“These are unique and authentic pieces formed by talented artisans a long time ago,” said Farley. “They possess attributes of decay with beautifully weathered colors, abstract shapes, negative and positive spaces, or other special qualities that few other materials found possess. These objects radiate personality and voice, demanding an opportunity for another life. I call them my shapeshifters. Freed from their castaway fate, these objects take on new identities and evoke something moving.
According to North, the response to Farley’s exhibit has been overwhelmingly positive. “Visitors seem particularly fascinated by the everyday materials Farley uses and the way his works really take on personalities of their own,” she said. “Coins are ultimately promising, because they give a second chance to objects that would otherwise have been lost in time.
Springfield Museums are dedicated to celebrating the rich artistic talent of this region through exhibits that showcase the work of emerging and mid-career local artists. “By presenting at least one community art exhibit each year since 1979, museums provide an invaluable platform for new art projects and contemporary creative thinkers,” said North. “Shawn Farley is one of those creative thinkers and Springfield Museums are delighted to showcase her sculptural works.”
The exhibition is included with admission to museums.
For more information, visit springfieldmuseums.org.