New exhibition celebrates radical communities created by the Shakers and the late gallerist Hudson
Work by influential artists such as Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Roy McMakin, Richard Rezac, Kay Rosen, and Nancy Shaver to be exhibited alongside objects from the Shaker Museum Permanent Collection
Saratoga Springs, NY (October 28, 2020) – The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College announces Energy in All Directions, an exhibition that brings rarely seen works and new acquisitions from the Tang Teaching Museum collection in dialogue with objects from the Shaker Museum’s extensive holdings to celebrate the life and legacy of artist and gallerist Hudson (1950–2014).
Hudson and the Shakers valued acceptance, equality, and artistry, and both built new communities that shared common themes of inclusion, interconnectedness, and innovation. The exhibition, open online now through June 13, 2021, is an invitation to explore what a community is—and can be — in this time of COVID-19, social distancing, and health and safety precautions that will likely delay the exhibition’s public opening until next summer.
Over the nine months of the show, the Tang will rotate some works and rehang others in different ensembles — using the gallery as a space for research. The online version of the show will expand with installation views, oral histories by exhibiting artists, and more, along with a schedule of online public programs that will include artist dialogues, curator’s tours, and a special commissioning project of new poetry and music created in response to the exhibition.
Energy in All Directions showcases furniture and eccentric objects from the Shaker Museum’s collection of more than 18,000 artifacts, which await the completion of a new home in 2023, and recent acquisitions by the Tang of contemporary artwork by artists such as Lisa Beck, Jason Fox, Sam Gordon, Andrew Masullo, Nancy Shaver, Jim Shaw, and B. Wurtz. The exhibition will also feature a site-responsive installation by Kay Rosen and the original gallery stairs from Hudson’s Feature Inc. by Roy McMakin.
“By juxtaposing historic Shaker material culture with contemporary art, this exhibition illustrates the values at the bedrock of Shakerism—inclusion, community, equality,” said Lacy Schutz, Executive Director of the Shaker Museum. “Seeing the works side by side will give viewers a unique opportunity to draw unexpected connections and parallels between the community created by the Shakers in rural upstate New York and the one created by Hudson in his downtown New York City gallery. People will see that they were both radicals in their time, and I am thrilled to work with the Tang to bring this unique and timely presentation to fruition.”
“The Tang’s twentieth anniversary year begins this fall, and the original vision of Energy in All Directions as a space for bringing people together has shifted, like so many things during this challenging time, to become a way to explore how community can transcend physical proximity through affinities and shared values of creativity, connection, and collaboration. Experimentation and independence are at the core of the project with a spirit of respect for multiple points of view,” said Dayton Director Ian Berry. “The exhibition, whether we see it in person or online, will help guide us in finding ways to live the shared values of community of the Shakers and Hudson, while at the same time asserting their indispensable legacies in how we understand American art.”
The Shakers formed under the leadership of Ann Lee (1736–1784), a working-class woman from Manchester, England. Shaker communities settled in the American Northeast and based their ideals around community, equality, simplicity. They believed that God was equal parts man and woman, and that Ann Lee was the female equivalent of Jesus. Because of these beliefs, the community saw all individuals as equal regardless of race, gender, or physical ability. Women and African Americans, in particular, were equal and full participants within the community, a revolutionary stance in the early days of the American republic. Their furniture, buildings, and tools such as baskets, chairs, and textiles embody the Shaker’s emphasis on accessibility and on communal rather than individual expression.
Hudson founded Feature Inc. in Chicago in 1984, later moving to New York in 1988. Through his gallery he gave a platform for new works by influential artists such as Tom Friedman, Roy McMakin, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Kay Rosen, and Nancy Shaver. Hudson supported independent artists of all kinds, choosing artists not for their art world success but for the quality and originality of their work. He cultivated a community of artists, collectors, critics, and friends, and made his gallery space accessible and intimate, for example positioning his office desk by the gallery entrance and providing comfortable seating for visitors. His diverse interests spread beyond the art world to Indian tantra drawings, Moroccan Berber carpets, and designers like Alpana Bawa.
Other artists in the exhibition (to date) include: Lucky DeBellevue, Tom Friedman, Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, Bill Komoski, Kinke Kooi, Michael Lazarus, Judy Linn, Douglas Melini, David Moreno, Lillian Mulero, Joshua Podoll, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Nathaniel Robinson, Raja Babu Sharma, Aaron Sinift, Cary Smith, and John Torreano.
Energy in All Directions is part of All Together Now, a regional collections-sharing project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation to celebrate the Tang Teaching Museum’s twentieth anniversary. As part of the regional collaboration, Energy in All Directions includes a poetry and music commissioning project created in partnership with Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Academy of American Poets. Contemporary poets including Hanif Abdurraqib, April Bernard, Nickole Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Claudia Castro Luna, Victoria Chang, Forrest Gander, Ilya Kaminsky, Eileen Myles, Francine Prose, and TC Tolbert crafted new writings in response to the art and ideas in the exhibition. Their words will be incorporated into a new composition for percussion and voice by composer Ken Frazelle to be performed by soprano Lindsay Kesselman, and New York-based percussion ensemble Sandbox Percussion at the Tang Museum in spring 2021.
More special events and features related to Energy in All Directions will be announced throughout the winter and spring.
The regional collections-sharing project All Together Now will continue to bring rarely-seen works from the Tang collection and other regional institutions to the public in collaborations with Ellsworth Kelly Studio, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Hyde Collection, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, among others.
A catalogue for the exhibition will be produced in spring 2021, providing documentation of the installation and performance along with the commissioned writings.
Energy in All Directions is curated by Ian Berry in collaboration with the Shaker Museum and is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation and Friends of the Tang.
About the Shaker Museum
With more than 18,000 objects, Shaker Museum stewards the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives. It is the leader nationwide among organizations devoted to Shaker history. Its permanent new facility in Chatham, NY designed by Selldorf Architects is estimated for completion in 2023. The museum also stewards the historic site in New Lebanon, New York and has a campus in Old Chatham, New York, which is open year-round by appointment, where the administrative offices, collections, library, and archives are housed. The museum’s collection can be viewed online at www.shakerml.org.
About the Tang Teaching Museum
The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York’s Capital Region, the Tang’s approach has become a model for university art museums across the country—with exhibition programs that bring together visual and performing arts with interdisciplinary ideas from history, economics, biology, dance, and physics to name just a few. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, and a robust publication and touring exhibition program that extends the museum’s reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum’s award-winning building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of art and ideas. The Tang building is closed to the public, due to the coronavirus, but is open online. For updates, please visit http://tang.skidmore.edu.