Vermonters explore World Challenges in Sheldon exhibit
The Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, presents World Challenges — highlighting Climate Change, the Refugee/Immigration Crisis, and the Syrian Civil War. The exhibit opened on Nov. 15, and will run through Jan. 14, 2017.
The exhibit was initiated by Vermont timber historian and wood carver Chuck Herrmann of Shoreham, whose grandson Sam Herrmann, while studying climate change at Lake Forest College in Illinois, alerted his grandfather to deteriorating conditions in the Arctic. For two years Herrmann created the colorful white pine triptych backdrop of varying shades of blue and white and inventive interpretations of melting and jagged ice with Artic animals.
Floating and flying amidst the ice formations are Herrmann’s basswood carvings of Artic creatures. Herrmann’s Arctic Triptych with its unique animal carvings and ice formations will delight children and confirm climate change conclusions of environmentalists.
Middlebury artist Sarah Ashe has created a miniature artistic testament to her ongoing concerns about the refugee situation brought on by war, violence and poverty. Using paper sculpture techniques and found materials, she searches for understanding and solutions to alleviate the suffering brought on by these calamities. Cognizant that over 60 million individuals are currently displaced worldwide, of which nearly 20 million are refugees, half of whom are children, with almost 6.6 million refugees from Syria alone, she has fashioned these sculptures.
Central to her presentation are small-scale replicas of the overcrowded vessels traversing hazardous seas between Africa and Europe. One such vessel is titled “Desperate Crossing,” with the notation: “Boats and rafts, under repair and often ill equipped for the journey, are loaded beyond capacity; life saver vests become the only hope of survival.”
New Haven, textile collector Sansea Sparling was introduced to Syria over a decade ago on a tour led by Deborah Harte Felmeth of Waltham, and her Syrian-native husband.
Sparling offers vivid reminders of the once-thriving textile artists in Syria. On view are a shawl woven from camel hair and embroidered with silk and a man’s cummerbund woven in a technique that no longer exists. An Arab gentleman would wrap the pleated cummerbund on his waist; wear it over a long gown, topped by a tailored jacket, perhaps pinstriped. A custom-made multicolored jacket from Damascus based on a design of several centuries is featured. It depicts the battles of Syrian hero Saladin (1137-1193). Domestic textiles include a tablecloth from recycled scraps of fabric, then embroidered, as well as an elegant pillow cover.
World Challenges offers artistic interpretations by Vermonters of issues that we face in the world. In the aftermath of a closely followed and divisive presidential campaign, the exhibit summons us to seek solutions. Visitors are encouraged to share their responses to these issues and the art work in an exhibit journal.
The Henry Sheldon Museum is located at 1 Park Street in downtown Middlebury. Admission to the Museum is $5 adults; $3 youth (6-18); $4.50 seniors; $12 family; $5 research center. For more information call 802-388-2117 or visit www.HenrySheldonMuseum.org.
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