New York-based artist Anina Major, whose work is on view in the exhibition “Anina Major: I Land Therefore I Am” at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) through October 9, will take part in an online conversation with curator Sadaf Padder on Thursday, July 27, at 7 p.m. The conversation will focus on Major’s multimedia work, including her practice of braiding clay, through which she gives her ceramics the appearance of woven straw. The event is free and will take place via Zoom and Facebook Live. Attendees can register online at brattleboromuseum.org. A recording of the talk will be made available afterward.
Major’s work explores experiences of displacement and memory. Her practice of braiding clay derives from traditional Bahamian weaving techniques that she learned from her grandmother, with whom she spent summer vacations as a child. The resulting ceramics juxtapose the permanence and durability of clay with the ephemerality and fragility of straw. The contrast evokes Major’s experience of immigration and attendant feelings of nostalgia and dislocation.
Major’s artwork also reflects on the implications of the disappearance of local artisanal cultures, such as Bahamian weaving, as well as on the transformation of meaning craft objects endure when they enter an international market of souvenir objects. Several years ago, Major encountered a straw doll in the window of a thrift store—a doll she remembered from her childhood being sold to tourists in the Bahamas—and realized its cultural significance as the embodiment of the Bahamas’ natural resources and artistry.
“Major felt a need to save the doll—to recreate it—in a medium that captured the symbolic value of this object,” Padder writes. “She subsequently produced a series of ceramic dolls and sculptures that resemble straw objects and aqueous forms. These works of art represent evolving spaces and amorphous geographical boundaries. The layered process of making… mimics the complex process of creating home and identity post-migration.”
In a statement accompanying the exhibition, Major talks about the many meanings embedded in her braided ceramics. “Layering references to postcolonial realities, cultural commodification, feminism, and migration, the abstract nature of the work straddles the traditional and the contemporary realms.”
“I Land Therefore I Am” is supported in part by the Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Exhibition Fund.
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Founded in 1972, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday–Sunday, 10–4. Admission is free. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.
BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Beer Co.