Interior Effects: Furniture in Contemporary Art pays tribute to New England’s history of furniture manufacturing
through an exploration of the unique capacity of interior furnishings to embody cultural traditions and to shape
the spaces within which we live and work. From studio furniture to artworks ranging from sculpture to video,
Interior Effects centers on furniture and its design as psychologically charged metaphors.
The exhibition combines the work of 10 New England artists who collectively explore themes including tradition,
community, gender, and the emotional impact of design. Tracie Pouliot’s oral histories and Liz Shepherd’s new
installation directly link to two furniture companies that were based in Gardner, Massachusetts—The Chair City.
Pouliot’s books record the stories of former Nichols & Stone employees, while Shepherd’s installation uses midcentury
designs produced by Heywood-Wakefield to examine these objects as iconic, regional, and gendered.
The furniture of Judy Kensley McKie, Yuri Kobayashi, and Leah K. Woods exemplify the booming studio furniture
movement in New England, which has applied extremely high technical and aesthetic standards to the creation of
one-of-a-kind furnishings. The designs of these three female furniture makers each distinctly play with traditions
and the symbolic potential of form.
In other works, furniture is used to explore institutional ethos or personal character. Celeste Roberge’s Miniature Stacks
are mini-chair monuments to artists such as Joseph Beuys and Meret Oppenheim. Katarina Burin pays homage to Fran
Hosken—one of the first women to graduate from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design—and her furniture designs.
The color saturated scenes in Sarah Malakoff’s photographs of interior spaces make the viewer aware of furniture as far
more than a benign, functional object in a domestic setting. Sandra Erbacher’s pairings of office furniture examine the
way design reflects a corporate philosophy. And Samantha
Fields’s cast porcelain chair legs animate stitched sculptures
that humorously invite feminist consideration of class, the female body, and domesticity.
Interior Effects is the second in a series of FAM exhibitions that link contemporary art practice to our region’s industrial
heritage. In 2016, FAM presented Plastic Imagination, and in 2020, will organize a show on the theme of paper.
This exhibition will be organized by Curator Lisa Crossman and Terrana Curatorial Fellow Candice Bancheri. It will be
accompanied by a Learning Lounge that will provide historical examples of furniture produced in Gardner thanks to the
Sunday, September 23, 2–4pm
Lost Manufacturing, Found Art
Saturday, November 3, 1:30–2:45 pm
A panel discussion on the effects of deindustrialization, as it relates to the region’s rich history of furniture making.
Panelists include UMass Lowell Professor Robert Forrant, artist Tracie Pouliot, and former Nichols & Stone employees,
followed by a talk by artist Liz Shepherd.
Behind the Scenes: A Closing Tour with Terrana Curatorial Fellow, Candice Bancheri
Sunday, January 13, 2pm
All events are free with museum admission.