The exhibition features a number of 19th century Shaker objects including a peg rail, basket, box, bowl, dipper, iron, chair, stand, farm tool and textiles. Chosen for their simple designs and harmonious forms, each object becomes a sculptural presence and a complement to the contemporary paintings, drawings and sculpture on view.
Repetition of forms and patterns is characteristic of many Shaker objects: the caning and slats on a chair, the weaving of a basket, the spindles and spools in a box, the pegs of a peg rail and the incised lines in a wooden bowl. Similarly, Chie Fueki’s drawing, Check, and Michelle Grabner’s paintings, repeat a basic pattern, as do Nathlie Provosty’s drawn semi-circles and arcs and Pete Schulte’s striped block forms. The bold shapes of a bonnet and pronged chip fork (used to move shavings in a saw mill) are echoed in Cary Smith’s Splat drawings and Don Voisine’s striking geometric paintings. Seth Koen’s minimal sculptures in wood reference the fine contours of Shaker design, and Joshua Marsh’s painting of a dustpan and broom remind us of the simple beauty that can be found in common objects.
The formal relationships established between the Shaker objects and contemporary artworks may seem accidental, however, it is through their making, by the simplest of means (media, method and design), that purity and perfection are sought and perhaps achieved.