Artist MJ Levy Dickson new Art Installation at Tufts University

Our Represented artist MJ Levy Dickson has created and installation at the School of the Museum of Fine Art at Tufts University entitled Bessie
Like Sea Glass: A Hand Full of Light, Hope
It will be on view over the next week or so. It is part of the SMFA Annual Art Sale which officially begins on Thursday, November 15 and ends on Sunday, November 18.
The hours are:
Thursday – Saturday, November 17, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sunday, November 18, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

“Like Sea Glass: A Hand Full of Light, Hope is an interactive installation inspired by the colors and shapes of sea glass. Each installation is site specific.
When I was asked to do an installation under and around Bessie, the Indian Rhinoceros, created by Katharine Lane Weems, I had no idea of the journey that both she and Bessie would set in motion.
The life of “Kay Lane,” as she refers to herself in her memoir, Odds Were Against Me,until her marriage to Carrington Weems, is a reference to women, a bygone culture and era, and the juxtaposition of women, family, and art in both Boston and New York. She interned with Anna Hyatt Huntington and Brenda Putnam. Charles Grafly and George Demetrios advised her throughout her career. Bessie is a copy of one of a pair of Rhinos, Victoria and Elizabeth, named after queens of England that are on display outside of the Biological Laboratories building at Harvard University.

My original intention was to create awareness of Rhinos and their endangered status. However, my installation has become a monument to sustainability, hope, and the determination of Katharine Lane Weems. The Indian Rhino was nearly extinct, with only a few hundred left, when she wrote her memoir in 1985. Today there are more than 3,500 in existence thanks to conservation efforts from Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities. I was surprised, felt hope, and encouraged to see the positive results of human intervention in the natural world. Sometimes, we feel, as artists, we are not able to make a difference. We feel that our efforts are unsupported and yet, wouldn’t Katherine Weems be surprised that her talent and perseverance created interest in many species that might have become extinct if people hadn’t noticed and admired her sculpture. I am very pleased at this significant moment in the history of our country, that my artwork can offer a small example of hope, and that our lives can and do matter. I am grateful for, and honored to have this opportunity through my installation project, to draw attention to the work of Katharine Lane Weems, her relevance to the Museum School in particular, and the natural world in general.”

Assisted by:
Toby Milgrim
Magda Petmeza

Project Concept & Background

Like Sea Glass: A Hand Full of Light is inspired by sea glass found on beaches around the globe. As the first Artist-in-Residence at Perkins School for the Blind I wanted to create an interactive, tactile piece of art to be enjoyed by all.
Each installation is a unique, custom-designed experience in which thousands of unique shapes in myriad colors are displayed. I have been working with Pairpoint Glass Company to create each shape, one by one. The glass is safe to touch and presents transitions from smooth to soft, indentation to extension, concave to convex. Audiences are invited to view the rhythm of color and light, as well as to pick up, handle, and replace the glass at will, literally re-shaping the exhibit over time. The shapes twist and curve in unexpected ways. Each one is sized in proportion to the others to create a rhythm of color and light. The sighted eye can dance over the many colors and shapes displayed on an interior or exterior, artist-constructed landscape. The tactile experience is similar as the hand touches the diverse shapes, sizes, and textures.
MJ Levy Dickson

The project pairs beauty with message, visceral experience with an opportunity for reflection, a familiar backdrop with a surprising element that can lead visitors to reconsider past perceptions and re-envision future possibility, a new way to define, enjoy, and observe beauty. The installations provide a counterpoint to a culture in which emotions are intellectualized and verbalized – yet not available to everyone in these forms. Encompassing thought and meaning visually, tactilely, and aurally, the installations offer a bridge by which diverse audiences can experience the unexpressed.

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